Forum Digest II/Interview

On the Top of the Pyramid

In the first half of October (1-12 October 1995) the CU Rector Prof. JUDr. Karel Maly, DrSc. and the Dean of CU Faculty of Philosophy Doc. PhDr. Frantisek Vrhel, CSc. left for a business trip to Egypt. Both of them visited the country for the first time. Their mission is described in a detailed protocol, but since the territory covered is unique, being the subject of the highly successful Czech Institute of Egyptologic (CU Faculty of Philosophy), the Editorial Board of Forum asked both CU representatives for a summary of the results of their trip and also for their personal feelings and impressions from their travels:

Can you describe the objectives of your journey for our readers?

CU Rector: Our journey was a business trip, the ten days being divided among seven official places and talks with official personalities. First, I would like to mention three Cairo Universities, interested in or already cooperating with Charles University, i.e. Cairo State University, University Ain Chams - Cairo, and AUC, which is a private university (American University Cairo). Especially at the last mentioned place we met with a sincere interest in cooperation and since this university represents in the Arab world a very contemporary and modern school, we found the offer of cooperation very interesting. We visited their university studio where TV broadcasters are prepared - all tuition is in English. University in Ain Chams is of special importance for us, being the only academic institution where Czech studies is part of their program. In this way, our mutual contact already has a certain tradition.

Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy: Actually the business trip to Egypt was a conjunction of several goals - being a sort of inspection, inseparably connected with representation. Thanks to the presence of His Magnificence we were able to strengthen our mission in Egypt, e.g. with the Council, for Egyptian Ancient Monuments and Relics....

Every stay abroad has its priorities, which part of your journey was most important for you personally?

CU Rector: The center of gravity was the visit at the Czech Egyptologic Institute of the Faculty of Philosophy (CEI) for a couple of reasons. I myself consider the Institute an institution, considerably exceeding the usual framework by its activity, which I witnessed in practice. Researchers from the Institute provide consultations for students of archeology at Cairo University and both places exchange Egyptologic literature. Our talks with official personalities were intended to emphasize the position of the Institute and to widen CEI activities above the present level. I am not an Egyptologist, but I could compare the results with the opinions of the Swiss Egyptologic Institute, and the comments of Egyptian researchers, which confirmed that CEI (with minimal expenses and minimal costs, compared to other similar institutions, such as the American, French or German Institutes) has extraordinary results and prestige, which is good for the prestige of CU, and what is more, which of the great universities has its institute right there in Egypt, working on ancient excavations?

Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy: The Czech Egyptologic Institute has worked since the 1980s in Abusir, where CU is licensed and has its allotted district - which is not very common... Everybody knows that CEI is one of the most exposed workplaces and their results are comparable with strong traditional Egyptologic workplaces. Our working enclave is, however, very small: besides the Director, Prof. Miroslav Verner, it consists of Mgr. Miroslav Barta, some assistants and workers - the total number would not exceed forty! Egyptology is opened at the Philosophical Faculty once in ten years, this time in the current academic year. What would be the situation of these students from the higher years without the possibility to stay in Egypt and work there? In the past five years five students have spent half a year or a year on study stays there. A further sign of success is that three Czech female students were accepted for a year of study at Cairo University.

In the course of the demanding business trip program it was necessary to activate some academic agreements...

CU Rector: At the time of our visit some of the academic agreements were expiring and we had to prepare a model of new agreements, which would be signed by both parties. We are expecting a visit from the Cairo University Rector or other representatives in Prague soon. From the CU viewpoint this is a case of a step towards the multiculturalism we keep talking about...

The licensed district of CEI has also a pyramid. What are your experiences from the visit to this exotic workplace?

Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy: The general cultural understanding of Egypt with its conserved arsenal of relics as, according to classical anthropology, the cradle of civilization, is true and strong. But to see the pyramids in Giza, the Valley of Kings, is a different matter. And my greatest experience? Standing on the top of the pyramid in Abusir, which is not as big as Cheops', but with a feeling that it is "ours".

CU Rector: This was my first visit to Egypt and the comparison between books and photographs with the place itself is interesting. A sort of continuity can be reflected as links in the life of the present culture, connected with ancient Egypt... For me, as a historian of law, it was wonderful to see the chiseled agreement with the Hittite state, the first international legal agreement. Naturally, I was amazed by the Egyptian monuments, but the greatest experience was rather paradoxical. Pharaoh Cheops, considered to be the greatest ancient ruler, left no portrait, sarcophagus or mummy. The only remainder is a 5 cm tall statue of him. Looking at it one learns about the history and the individual greatness of a man, whose creative powers are printed in this tiny sole artifact...

Michaela Zindelova

Photo for Forum: from the CU Rector's archives

Surprising Discoveries

At the time when Forum No. 6 brought the interview about the Rector's journey to Egypt, the Czech press announced surprising discoveries at the burial ground at Abusir. Czech and Israeli archeologists uncovered about 15 km south of Cairo a unique grave complex 4,000 years old. The tomb belonged to Kaz vizier and his family from VIth dynasty and was built about 2,200 BC. Czech Egyptologists found a burial chapel within the complex with original relief decoration and its burial chamber of the members of the vizier family with stone sarcophaguses. One of them was intact with bone remains.


I will "bridge" with all my might...

...laughed PhDr. Jan Jirak from the CU Faculty of Social Sciences, explaining the duties, connected with his new function. For the academic year 1995-96 he was elected the only representative of fourteen schools of journalism from Central and East Europe in EJTA - European Journalism Training Association.

EJTA was created in autumn 1990 as an association of several tens of schools and universities of Western Europe, dealing with the education of journalists. EJTA supports the idea of creating standards and making a clear division between the practical and theoretical parts of the tuition, while the practical part should simulate real journalist work.

EJTA further coordinated activities of schools, dealing with further journalist education, and, naturally, aims at maximal cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe. The main idea is a group cooperation of the schools and the creation of joint projects of Euroreporter. EJTA activities are financed from membership fees. The EJTA Board negotiates with EU about financial contributions for projects, e.g. for Euroreports.

How did our faculty get into such an organization?

In 1993 we turned to the representative of one of the EJTA work groups, the Gutenberg Group, uniting schools from Munich, Paris, London, Dublin, Utrecht and Aarhus. This contact with the group enabled us to obtain a TEMPUS grant (EU for the support of education), which we used for the restructuring of journalist education at CU. New technical equipment was purchased. Teachers were sent for short study stays abroad. We also organized different seminars. Charles University's prestige grew, as it became the first school outside the EU to be associated with EJTA. At present there are fourteen associated schools and so their representation on the Board became necessary.

You are the representative. What shall you do?

I will enforce maximal exchange of students. Absolutely essential, too, is the comparison of course outlines and methods. I will also support new projects, and the joining of more schools from the countries of Central and East Europe. Some have difficulties because of different teaching methods. My activities will thus be explanatory and, in modern computer terminology, bridging. I will bridge with all my might.

You have mentioned the joined projects of Euroreporter. What are they?

These are cooperative projects for students of several countries. The result of their activity is a magazine, radio or TV program. In October and November a topic is announced, and during the following months students elaborate on it individually. It is a rather demanding matter, as they can communicate only through faxes and letters. In March or April they meet in one school and they have one week to put everything together and finalize the work. The magazine or videotape is then sent to other schools. I must emphasize that the first Euroreporter to be created outside EU was in this country, a magazine dealing with the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe.

What is the position of our faculty at EJTA?

We are the first affiliated faculty. We had the first Euroreporter outside EU and our faculty representative is on the board. The CU Faculty of Social Sciences is respected in EJTA as a perspective partner.

Lenka Nadvornikova

Photo for Forum: From the Faculty's archives

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