October Alumni Profile: Jared Dye

Jared Dye

Jared Dye, MA in Slavic and East European Studies and Master of Public Affairs Class of 2017

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work for CD Projekt RED as an English adaptation specialist. CDPR is a Polish video game studio responsible for the Witcher video game series, GWENT: The Witcher Card Game, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, and the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077.

Tell us how you got there.

During my final year of the dual CSEES MA/MPA, a recruiter from CDPR reached out to Dr. Daniel Pratt to ask whether there were any OSU students with knowledge of the Polish language and culture who might be interested in applying to the English Adaptation Specialist role in Warsaw, Poland. I immediately leapt at the chance to work on video games and live in Poland. After I applied and passed a couple translation tests, they made me an offer and I moved to Warsaw right after graduation.

How has your CSEES MA helped you throughout your post-graduate life?

Since completing the CSEES MA, I’ve only had one job and that’s the one at CDPR. Because most of my responsibilities there fall in the realm of adapting written Polish to English, my language studies at CSEES in both Polish and Russian have obviously proved useful. Also, because language translation/adaptation requires strong writing skills and precision, working on my MA thesis, MPA capstone, and various papers in my other coursework helped refine my writing skills from a more technical perspective.

What was your focus or research interest when you studied at OSU?

In a nutshell, my language and region specializations focused on Poland and Russia, while my subject areas primarily centered on environmental and energy issues (especially in the last two years of my three-year program). My MA thesis detailed the history of energy use in Russia and the ongoing development of renewable energy in the country, particularly with regard to wind power. My MPA coursework followed a highly predetermined trajectory, but when given the chance to select a research subject for a paper or project, I always selected either Poland or a location within Poland. My capstone, for example, focused on the development of renewable energy production in Poland and the policy framework supporting it.

If you are a traveler, what is one of your favorite trips you have taken?

I’ve been fortunate to take several trips around Europe since graduating from OSU. For major destinations, I would say Rome was a favorite of mine because of the cuisine, coffee culture, and ancient history scattered all across the city. More off the beaten path, Vilnius was a pleasant surprise for me. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but the quaintness and comfort of the city really drew me in. As for within Poland (besides Krakow and Warsaw, which are both great cities), I loved Wroclaw. Their market square, church island, and zoo were all fantastic must-visit destinations worthy of any major European city.

Bonus Fact

Nikki Freeman and I got married in November 2019. She’s a PhD candidate in the History Department, and we met in Polish class at OSU.

Life in a Pandemic: What Could the Future Hold?

It’s uncertain what the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be. Every country seems to have its own plan for reopening and adjusting to “the new normal”. We asked our participants what they think the next six months have in store for their countries. The following responses were collected in mid-April, 2020.


Eric Bednarski, Warsaw, Poland
Many people are hoping that by that the end of April the worst will be over and that the rate of new infections and deaths will begin to gradually fall. In May there is supposed to be a Polish presidential election that will take place through a postal ballot system. Nobody knows how this will go, or how many people will actually vote. A lot of people will certainly not take part in this election because of the pandemic situation.* I imagine there will be social distancing into the summer months, with a gradual easing of restrictions around how many people can be in shops, at events, in churches, etc. I think most people will be wearing face masks for at least the next 6 months.

Conrad Rinto, Budapest, Hungary
Much like the rest of the world, it is expected that Hungary will weigh the risk of easing COVID-19 restrictions with medical capabilities and capacities. The gradual reopening of the economy (sectors and services) will be dependent on Hungary’s ability to test for the virus, limit its spread, and have essential medical space and equipment in place to treat COVID patients.


Jesse Smeal, Rome, Italy
It’s tough to tell as things are changing on a daily basis. It seems as though social distancing and wearing masks will become a part of our daily life for quite some time.


Adela Muchova, Prague, Czechia
This is rather unclear in many ways. The government is sending different signals and citizens are confused about possible loosening of quarantine measures. Czech Republic is one of the few countries that closed its borders not only from the outside, but also from the inside. This travel restriction was not seen only as a safety precaution, it also resembles the Cold War period when people were unable to exercise their basic human right to the freedom of movement. Some people fear this restriction can negatively affect a major value of European Union, the right to travel freely within Schengen countries. This causes unease within the public, so various initiatives challenge the government for transparent explanation and justification.


*Update: the 2020 Polish elections went ahead as planned, but resulted in a 0% voter turnout. Read more here

<< Check back tomorrow for more responses from Ukraine, Hungary, Georgia, and Russia!

COVID-19: The Bread Baking Renaissance

Food is one of the few things that can unite, sustain, and soothe us no matter where we are in the world. In these troubling times, many people have turned to bread baking and vegetable gardening both to feed themselves and to pass time. In this week’s Notes from the Field, we asked our participants what their go-to comfort food is.

Emma Pratt, Tbilisi, Georgia

Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian bread filled with cheese and egg.

Most Georgian food makes good comfort food. There has been a popular social media challenge of people around the world making adjaruli khachapuri or khinkali and posting photos of their results. I think I will try to make my first adjaruli khachapuri soon.

Jesse Smeal, Rome, Italy

Any pasta dish. Cheap, easy and delicious.

Ann Merrill, Kyiv, Ukraine

Carbs, carbs, carbs.

Jessie Labov, Budapest, Hungary

My child has been sustained largely on “mákos tészta,” or poppy seed noodles, which is spaghetti or fettuccine coated with butter (or duck fat if you’re my mother-in-law), then sprinkled with a mix of ground poppy seeds and powdered sugar—the proportion of each depending entirely on the level of bribery necessary to get the child to eat. If you grew up in the U.S., you will probably find this weird and off-putting. If you grew up in this region, you will wolf it down like manna from heaven.

Eric Bednarski, Warsaw, Poland

We have been eating a lot of traditional homemade Polish pierogis in my household. Although I have been eating pierogis for most of my life, I’d never made pierogis myself until this pandemic struck, so it has been fascinating to see the whole pierogi-making process from start to finish. A lot of people I know in Warsaw seem to be baking their own bread now too. Many of them are baking bread for the first time.

Lyudmila Skryabina, Moscow, Russia

A meat and fish counter remains open in an empty St. Petersburg supermarket.

I can’t say anything about my fellow countrymen, although I think many are cooking now. Personally, I have been making more soups in quarantine. Yesterday I made borscht. I am also trying to remember the recipes for all kinds of yummy dishes. I recently made the mini-khachapuris Dr. Brintlinger taught me to make several years ago. I have to admit that I’ve been eating better and healthier food in quarantine.

<<Check back in next Monday, May 25, to learn more about how countries in Central and Eastern Europe are dealing with the pandemic.

The Tumult that COVID-19 Has Made in Our Daily Lives

The Tumult that COVID-19 Has Made in Our Daily Lives

Launching our blog post series “Notes from the Field”, we start our exploration of the havoc that the virus has caused on our daily lives by documenting the changes in routine and environments in which we live. We asked our participants to reflect on and share an example and/or photo of how COVID-19 has changed daily life in the city and country in which they are living.

Eric Bednarski, Warsaw, Poland

It is now mandatory for everyone in Poland who goes out in public to wear a face mask, a completely surreal sight. Until now I would say only about one third to half of the people you’d see on the street would have on a mask. Now, it is everyone.

Adela Muchova, Prague, Czechia      

The quarantine rules and obligation to wear facemasks anywhere in public is the most visual representation and reminder of the changes people in the Czech Republic are facing now. More out of sight, daily life changed dramatically when people had to start working from home and home-schooling overnight.

People wearing face masks

Adela Muchova and family in Prague

Conrad Rinto, Budapest, Hungary

Below is a picture of the popular Budapest tourist destination, the Houses of Parliament. On a beautiful spring day, Parliament with its adjoining square, Kossuth Ter, would be brimming with tourists. Due to the COVID-19, the Budapest tourism industry has evaporated.  In addition to the missing tourists and vendors, the Hungarian Honor Guard no longer perform their ceremonial flag display in front of Parliament.”

Large building on an empty square

<<Check back tomorrow morning for set two of responses, with entries from Budapest, Tbilisi, and Rome!

Unexpected Thoughts from a Trip to Poland

A view across an open plaza, bordered by multicolored buildings and people standing

Old City, Warsaw

By Brenden Wood

My grandmother was a heritage speaker of Polish, and I had always admired her ability to speak in another language. When I came of college age, I wanted to pursue Polish, but I was not able to during my undergraduate career for a host of reasons, the foremost being that it just isn’t widely taught. So, when I arrived to OSU last year to start my M.A. at the Slavic Center, I jumped at the chance to finally study Polish. I had studied Russian at that point for four years, and I was excited to be able to start in on a new Slavic language. Unlike with Russian, however, I had no career goal or aspirations with the language. The language is simply something that I have wanted to learn for a long time, and I am excited to finally have the opportunity to thoroughly explore the language. Therefore, when I had the chance to travel to Poland this past December, I didn’t hesitate.

Weirdly, I had no personal expectations for the trip. My family came from southeastern Poland, by Zamosc, but we have retained no connection with family in the area. My great-grandfather did not leave on happy terms. I did not have any glorious or romantic ideas to reach back into a forgotten past, and hopefully pull something forward. I figured that I would enjoy the journey, and see where it took me.

I toured Warsaw and Krakow and I went on an excursion to Auschwitz. Writing about what is there does not do it justice, but suffice to say that I did not walk away any more distraught or calmly than when I arrived. I instead got an unsettling sensation that I was a witness, and I felt a sense of odd displacement. It wasn’t that they didn’t make a great impression on me, quite the opposite. I think that it was more that I didn’t have any idea how I would feel after seeing these places, ravaged as they all were by history. It was easy to imagine that seeing Auschwitz would give me a sense of closure or understanding, but instead it just left me with a pensive feeling, as if I had left with more questions than when I had arrived. However, these questions now are still not clear.

A white, horse drawn carriage, with lighted Christmas tree in the background

Stary Rynek, Krakow

One particular event sticks out in my head as I attempt to come to terms with everything. I had the chance to sit down for a meal with relatives of a family friend who are natives of Poland, now living in the small town of Siedlec. As most know, Poland has had a difficult century in terms of political independence and stability. After being ravaged by the Third Reich in the 1940’s, Poland fell behind the Iron Curtain, and was subjected in many ways to the authority of the Soviet Union. Sparing everyone the well-known history lesson here, I’ll just say that as a result of this political situation, learning Russian became mandatory, which is what brings me back to my curious dinner in Siedlec.

My host and hostess both spoke broken English, but each commanded a decent vocabulary and passive understanding of the language. My host spoke excellent Russian, while my hostess had a better command of English. Naturally, they both spoke Polish pretty well. My command of English is that of a native, and my abilities in Russian, although by no means native, are not paltry. My Polish is definitely more primitive, but I can communicate and understand. What ensued over dinner was a conversation in a mixture of three languages, a conversation which conveyed to me sadness, anger, fear, but, above all, great pride. My hosts love their country dearly, and are proud of all that has happened there. What was odd for me, was that I understood the events we discussed not as a student of Poland, but as somebody who has long studied Russia and the Soviet Union. When at a loss for a word, my host and I would revert to Russia to clarify a word, while I would revert to English with my hostess. It was a bit disconcerting to use Russian at the table, as it clearly made everyone a bit uncomfortable. My hostess did not retain her knowledge of the language, and it clearly had been something that she had not made a point to remember. My host, who used Russian at work, had been forced by the nature of his profession to retain a technical command of the language. However, it clearly made him too uncomfortable to have to rely on Russian with me when we were all at a loss for words.

Probably the most interesting takeaway from this pleasant dinner was when we discussed how things had changed in Krakow. They told me that prior to the 1990s, Krakow had fallen into disrepair. They were not specific as to why the city was allowed to literally crumble, but it was clear that it was the result of a lack of funding and motivation under the communist regime.  The answers are clear: feeling trapped by communism, the Poles were more focused on survival than maintaining the city and allowing the communists to enjoy the beauty and pride of Krakow. What was a bit perplexing was that the people of Krakow, who so clearly loved their city, allowed it decline to the point of shame leading up the 1990s, but immediately began to rejuvenate the city once Poland was once more democratic. The people of Warsaw had leapt to repair Warsaw after the war, even though they were at that time falling under the yoke of communist rule. This perhaps seems as if I am running circles around something with a clear answer, but I still pause and think. The anger toward the communists and the Soviet Union was tangible from the conversation, but so too was the pride at how Krakow has been revived. What is unclear to me is how this pride was maintained as a beacon and hope for all those years, but now seems to render itself both positively and negatively. It is positive in that they revived a beautiful city rich in history and culture, but negative in that this beauty is now viewed as a reminder of vindication for decades of being wronged. That is at least how it is seems to a humble foreigner.

A poster with writing in Polish with a skull at the top and a red star with a hammer and sickle in it

A 1940s Anti-Soviet poster

I am still mulling over a lot of what I saw and discussed with people when I was there, but I nevertheless keep returning to that unsettling sensation I got while there. As I said, I felt a witness in a distant way to everything that has happened there. I see the logic and reasoning behind the fear, anger, and sadness. I also understand the pride. Being a student of post-Soviet space, I understand the importance of historical memory, and the difficulty that it poses to each individual. It was odd to be connected to Poland by blood, albeit distantly, but to understand it better through the lens of the Russian language and post-Soviet politics and memory. It was a very interesting trip, and I look forward to return.

Delving into Dissertation Research: A PSI Summer Experience

*We are republishing this post from autumn 2017 on an older blog that CSEES maintained on its website.

Nikki Freeman is a PhD student at OSU in the Department of History.

Woman standing under a large red sign spelling "Warszawa"

Nikki Freeman in Warsaw, Poland


Receiving a research grant from the Polish Studies Initiative allowed me to spend six weeks in Poland conducting research for my dissertation, “A Time to Rebuild: The Education and Rehabilitation of Jewish Children in Postwar Germany and Poland, 1945 – 1953.” My research explores how the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee worked alongside the Central Committee of Jews in Poland on behalf of Jewish children to reconstruct Jewish life after the Holocaust. In Warsaw, I studied archival documents that detailed the creation of children’s homes, schools, and summer camps. I also gained access to important Polish-language secondary literature at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. In addition to conducting research for my dissertation, I took a short weekend trip to Gdańsk where I visited the brand new Museum of the Second World War. I am so excited to share these experiences with OSU students as I prepare to teach my own courses on the Holocaust and the Second World War. Thanks to the Polish Studies Initiative, I was given the opportunity to start research that is absolutely essential to my dissertation and in November, I plan to return to Poland for a longterm research trip.

A red brick building with large glass front.

POLIN Museum

A Summer in Warsaw at the Institute of Aviation

We are republishing this post from autumn 2017 on an older blog that CSEES maintained on its website.

By Jason Scheele

This summer I worked in at the Institute of Aviation in Warsaw, Poland. During my time at the Institute of Aviation, I worked on modeling the forces on a helicopter blade during flight using a series of computer programs called Computational Fluid Dynamics. The work I completed this summer granted me an in depth look at the programs used in the aerospace industry today. I also gained first-hand experience solving real-world problems from start to finish, which will benefit me for the rest of my career in aerospace engineering.

Luckily, I lived close to the center of Warsaw, only having to travel 20 minutes on the tram. Nearly every day after work, I traveled downtown to explore Warsaw and experience the Polish culture. I very quickly fell in love with the city of Warsaw because of its amazing public transportation system, cleanliness and of course the delicious traditional food that could be found all over the city. I found the Polish people to be extremely friendly and I was quite relived that nearly everyone spoke English, especially if they were under 30.

I also traveled to the Polish cities of Krakow and Lublin. I enjoyed the lively nature of Krakow and had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz. I believe that everyone should travel to Auschwitz once in their lifetime because the absolute magnitude of the death camp cannot be portrayed through any media, only by going there personally. Lublin, on a brighter note, was an amazing small town in the southeast of Poland and seemed to be a great place to raise a family or attend a university.

Outside of Poland, I also traveled to Amsterdam, Brussels, Prague, Budapest and Lviv, Ukraine.

I am extremely grateful to the Center for Slavic and East European Studies at the Ohio State University and especially the Polish Studies Initiative for the amazing opportunities that it provided to me, traveling through Europe this summer truly gave me a much broader prospective of the world, all of the different cultures, languages, and individuals that live here. It was a truly amazing summer thanks to the PSI.

Lauren Sayers: Studying Justice in Poland

Lauren Sayers is an undergraduate student at OSU studying criminology and criminal justice. The Polish Studies Initiative (PSI) awarded her a scholarship to study abroad in Warsaw, Poland in the summer of 2016. Read about her experience below. Find out more about PSI here.

“For the summer semester, I traveled to Warsaw, Poland and took a Statistics course and a course about Social Change in Central & Eastern Europe, while working on a research paper through the Summer School in Social Sciences (OSU) that I have titled “Justice for All? Economic Disadvantage and Trust in Poland’s Judicial System”. The program also took my peers and I to the beautiful cities of Lodz and Krakow. This photo is of a church that I stumbled upon in Warsaw; to me, all of the city’s architecture seems like something out of a fairy tale. The Summer School (also through the Polish Academy of Sciences) was an amazing experience, presenting an academic challenge and opportunities to learn from scholars of many different countries (ex: Macedonia, Ukraine, Romania, Poland); the food was delicious, and the buildings and gardens were exquisite.”

A large, white catherdral



Alyssa Neville’s Sociological Research in Poland

Alyssa Neville is an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University studying Russian and Criminology. She was a recipient of the Polish Studies Initiative (PSI) 2016 summer scholarship. Read about her experience in Poland below.

“Over the summer I traveled to Warsaw, Łodz and Krakow, Poland on the Research Central and Eastern Europe in Comparative Studies Program. During this program I conducted a research project with the help of a multitude of dedicated professors, who are affiliated with OSU and the Polish Academy of Sciences, and completed three sociology courses.

In the course of the past three months, I have not only learned basic statistical skills that are useful for both research and other professional applications, but I have also increased my knowledge of Eastern Europe and Poland from a sociological point of view. Moreover, this experience provided a unique opportunity for guided research with professors who have experience in both teaching and conducting research. I went into this program with unsure feelings about completing a research project and surprisingly found that I thoroughly enjoyed the procedure. The process was expedited through the help of my professors in order to complete all of the necessary components in Poland, but it was a beneficial introduction into the world of research. Although it requires a lot of time and energy, it was tremendously satisfying to get positive results regarding my hypothesis, as well as to find interesting exceptions and anomalies that will hopefully be explained one day. Not only did I find that I enjoyed working with statistical data, but I now feel more confident in using statistical programs, such as STATA.

Using my newly acquired skills, I conducted a research experiment on POLPAN data, which is a survey administrated to Polish citizens every five years from 1988 until 2013. My project asked the question, “Are political biographies from the post socialist era in Poland influencing the Pole’s attitudes toward democracy?” In exploring this question with panel survey data, I also traced the social and political context by presenting how the political culture in Poland developed over the last twenty-five years in order to provided a glimpse of how individuals and social groups develop their ideals about democracy over their lifetimes.

Additionally, through this experience I gained confidence in my ability to navigate new countries, cultures and situations. I made meaningful relationships with Ohio State students and other students studying at the Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, as well as professional contacts and connections with my instructors in Warsaw. Furthermore, I travelled to both Łodz and Krakow during the program and to Prague in the Czech Republic after the program. Throughout these experiences I developed a sense of confidence in my ability to navigate social situations in which English was not the main language and international travel on a large scale.

Although this program had three in-country advisors there was a multitude of opportunities in which I could travel and experience situations on my own. I was essentially responsible for not only navigating the city transit system in order to get from class to my in-country residence, as well as providing most of my meals. This was an exceptionally challenging experience since I did not speak much Polish, but was even trickier when travelling to Prague where I knew no Czech. Ultimately, it was an extremely beneficial experience because it increased my self-confidence in my own ability to think critically and remain calm in stressful and complicated situations.

Overall, this was a well-rounded experience that provided practical experiences, which can be used in both the real and academic world, as well as unforgettable friends and memories that will have a lasting effect on me.”