Belarus isn’t so well-known outside of its borders, and isn’t on the radar for most travelers to Europe. A locally-produced television show–Welcome to Belarus!”–is trying to fix that, with episodes every week featuring the wonderful experiences of travelers to Belarus.
As a Fulbright Scholar and exuberant participant in Belarusian culture and the city-life of Minsk, I was lucky enough to be featured on one such episode in 2018, and was even luckier to be featured when I went back the following year as a Fulbright Specialist.
In the first episode, I biked about 25 miles outside Minsk to the Belarusian folk village (every country has one!) of Dudutki and learned about their folkways: playing music, baking bread, turning flax stalks to linen, distilling potato liquor, and working metal…only to find that this traditional lifestyle was very much still practiced in the neighboring village.
In the second episode, I embarked on another quest–learning to play the duda, a traditional Belarusian bagpipe. I met a local craftsman who still makes these instruments, got taught by 2 pipers from Minsk, and put on a concert for a friendly family who had invited me to share Easter supper with them.
I hope you can watch these episodes and are motivated to include a stop in Belarus the next time you are in Europe!
Robert Eckhart – Fulbright to Belarus 2018