The University of Iceland is inaugurating a new program this fall: a minor in Polish Studies. RÚV reports that the university’s Polish language courses have been popular, particularly among elementary school teachers. Some 20,000 people of Polish origin live in Iceland, making it the largest single immigrant group in the country.
The new program has been in the works and is partially funded by a grant from NAWA, the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange. The institution will send a visiting instructor to Iceland this summer, who will start teaching in the fall semester.
Eyjólfur Már Sigurðsson, Director of the University of Iceland’s Language Centre, says the course of study will be a 60-credit minor, which students can take alongside another course of study. “This is primarily a language study course for beginners, but also a cultural course. That’s why we want to call it Polish Studies, because we are teaching both the language and the culture.”
Some of the program’s courses will be taught in the late afternoons and will be accessible to the general public through the university’s continuing education institute, Endurmenntun HÍ.
Katarzyna Rabęda has been teaching Polish at the University of Iceland for five years. She says that most Polish language students are teachers who want to better connect with Polish schoolchildren, followed by Icelanders who are connected to Polish people through family ties – usually a Polish spouse or children. Katarzyna says that the program has been popular but rather limited and welcomes the upcoming changes, which will allow more time for instructors to cover Polish culture, films, music and history.