Tatiana Ostwalt, WFU18 in Russian, was awarded a Fulbright TA-ship in Kazakhstan for 2020. Unfortunately, her time in Kazakhstan was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, but she has shared this essay and some photographs of her time there with us.
I was placed in the city of Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan, with a population of about 200,000 people that is located in the south of Kazakhstan. In this region, there is a strong emphasis on the Kazakh culture and Kazakh is more commonly spoken than Russian, as compared to other parts of Kazakhstan. There is a considerable amount of Koreans living in Kazakhstan and as ethnically Korean myself, I would often be thought of as a native until I was heard speaking. This allowed me to blend into my environment fairly well, but also challenged me to continue improving my target language abilities. Although people would be initially surprised to hear that I was American, once I told them about my background, they would quickly understand and be receptive to find out more.
I taught English 13 hours a week in the Department of Foreign Languages and Translation Studies of a university in my city. My host institution was very welcoming and I had a lot of fun teaching my students. The students were at the very least bilingual, knowing both Kazakh and Russian, and were eager to improve their English with a native speaker and learn about life in the United States. The students I was teaching were majoring in Translation Studies or Education, and were highly driven to be proficient in the languages they were learning to apply to their future careers.
For almost all of my students, I was the first American they had met and I was happy to share with them about where I was from and represent the U.S. with this cultural exchange. While students were learning about different facets of American life and strengthening their English, I was being educated on the differences of the education system in Kazakhstan and learning more about the Kazakh culture and history. One of my students and a local friend also started teaching me Kazakh. I loved seeing the passion and love the people here had for their ethnic roots and identity, and was glad they wanted to share that with me. Thanks to the support of the Fulbright Program, my host institution, and the local friends I made in my community, the transition process to Kazakhstan was made much smoother. I feel lucky to have formed lasting friendships and bonds there, and feel thankful for the hospitality I was shown by the Kazakh people. I hope I will get the chance to return one day.
Hello all! Following on the success of our Maslenitsa celebration (pictures below), we’ve got more Russian-related activities this week. Today (Tuesday, March 3) we’ll be holding Russian Conversation Hour, or as we like to call it, Chas Peek! Come by, get snacks, meet other Russian students, and practice your Russian. Greene 341, 4-5pm.
Last Friday’s Maslenitsa (Russian Carnevale/Mardi Gras) was a big hit! We held it in the WakerSpace and anyone who dropped by could make their own bliny (Russian pancakes)–or just enjoy some bliny made by the Russian students.
Starting the batter
Flipping the pancakes
Quite a crowd has gathered!
Lots of fun was had by all!
After a few quiet days, we’ve got a jam-packed week coming up! Details below.
Missed out on Mardi Gras? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered 🙂 The Russian version has fewer beads and more pancakes, but it’s just as much fun! Drop by the WakerSpace between 11 and 1 on Friday, February 28th, and get some freshly made bliny (pancakes). You can even learn to make your own!
Call for Applications for Dobro Slovo
The WFU chapter of Dobro Slovo, the national Slavic honors society, is currently calling for applications for this year. To be eligible, students must have taken at least two years of a Slavic language, with an average GPA of 3.5 in Slavic classes, and an overall GPA of 3.0. Students must also indicate an ongoing interest in the study of Slavic languages and cultures, or in using them professionally.
To apply, please send the following to Dr. Clark at email@example.com: 1) an unofficial transcript, and 2) a short (1-2 paragraphs) statement about their interest in Slavic languages and cultures, and their future plans regarding them. Please submit the materials by March 15.
Students whose applications are chosen to be forwarded to the national office will also need to submit a 1-time $35 application fee. Students for whom this will be a financial hardship can request that the fee be waived.
Please send any questions to Dr. Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to senior German major Omar Pasha! He was selected as one of the top 10 senior orators for the 2020 graduating class, and on February 5th spoke in front of peers, faculty, and administrators, giving his own perspective on the Wake Forest Experience. His speech, titled “Cirque de Forest” was clever, provocative, and (as anyone who knows Omar will not be shocked to hear) impeccably delivered. Thanks to Omar, and to Dr. Thomas, who introduced him!
This week we’ve been covering the various study abroad and internship opportunities for students interested in Russia and the former USSR. While some programs such as American Councils and SRAS also offer internships as part of their programming, there are others that focus only on internships.
1-Week Internship with NASA
A one-off opportunity for Russian majors not to be missed!
The Duke University Slavic and Eurasian Language Resource Center (SEELRC) is pleased to announce a call for applications for a weeklong internship (June, 2020) through TechTrans International Inc. at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Language Education Center (JLEC) in Houston, TX. Must be a current Russian major with at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please write to email@example.com by February 15, 2020.
Travel across Eurasia with Crossroads Eurasia!
Crossroads Eurasia offers short-term unpaid internships all across Russia. If you’re interested in interning somewhere other than Moscow or St. Petersburg, Crossroads Eurasia can help you out.
For something truly different, go to the Altai region with Camp Cosmopolitan
Camp Cosmopolitan offers internships and Russian language instruction at their summer and winter camps in the spectacular Altai region of Siberia. They offer both a summer and a winter language camp, for students who want to try something very different and maybe fit in a trip over winter break
Intrigued? Want to find out more? Contact Professor Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about study and internship opportunities in the former USSR.
This week we’re looking at opportunities for intensive Russian study, as well as internships and other travel programs. But what if you can’t or don’t want to travel abroad? Great news! There are a wide variety of intensive summer programs right here in the US to choose from.
The most well-known of the intensive summer language programs is at Middlebury College.
Middlebury’s language program is famous for its language pledge. Students agree not to speak English for the duration of the entire program, giving them the closest thing to an immersion experience they can have in the US.
The West Coast more your style? Middlebury has you covered there as well!
Middlebury also has a satellite program in Monterey, CA, that offers Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.
The oldest intensive Russian program in the US is at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus
IU’s Summer Language Workshop is one of the biggest in the country, and also one of the most affordable. All students pay in-state tuition, and scholarships are available. The program has recently been expanded to include more languages and hybrid and online options as well as courses on the Bloomington campus.
A WFU student took advantage of Beloit’s intensive summer Russian program to turbocharge her progress!
Beloit College offers intensive Russian, Chinese, and Japanese for 7 weeks in the summer. The slightly shorter program may fit better in some students’ schedules.
Earn 8 credits of Russian in 8 weeks!
Bryn Mawr’s intensive summer Russian program provides 8 credits (1 year’s worth) in just two months.
With Pitt, you can study BCS in both Pittsburgh and beautiful Podgorica, Montenegro
The University of Pittsburgh offers both domestic and hybrid programs (half in the US, half in the target country), giving students the best of both worlds. They also have an extensive offering of unusual languages, including Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, and Slovak.
Study Albanian in Tirana with ASU!
ASU’s Critical Languages Institute has a very wide variety of critical need language offerings. Most of the programs include domestic study plus the option of a 4-week extension in the target country. The CLI is another very affordable option for students on a budget.
This should have given you an idea of the kinds of programs available to study Russian and other critical need languages right here in the US. For more information, please email Dr. Clark at email@example.com.
The first post in this series had a list of study abroad programs inside of Russia. Some of them, such as American Councils and SRAS, also offer study abroad programs in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
But what if you want to study Russian in the former USSR, but don’t want to go to Russia? Reasons for doing so can range from program restrictions–e.g., Project GO scholarships currently don’t cover Russia–to a desire to see a lesser-known side of the former USSR. Fortunately, there are a couple of programs that cater specifically to students wishing to study Russian in an immersion environment outside of Russia.
With the Learn Russian in the EU program, you can have a Russian immersion experience in the Russian-speaking city of Daugavpils while staying in the EU.
This program is based in Daugavpils, Latvia, which is an EU member. Among other perks, travel to Latvia is currently visa-free for US citizens. One of our WFU ROTC students studied there in 2018 and enjoyed it tremendously!
Study Russian with Harvard faculty in beautiful Tbilisi, Georgia!
A WFU student is planning to do this program this summer. Get intensive Russian instruction while experiencing the beauty of the South Caucasus.
Welcome to the Spring 2020 semester, everyone 🙂
We’ve got quite a semester of activities lined up! Along with regular events such as Kaffeestunde (German conversation hour) and Chas Peek (Russian conversation hour), we’ll be holding special celebrations for Maslenitsa (Russian Mardi Gras) and German day. And of course it’s time to get serious about applying for study abroad. Watch this space for more updates!
Goodness! Is it the last week of the semester already? It *is*! How did that happen?
We have a full slate of activities this week, so let’s dive right in.
Sanders Scholarship Application 2019 are due Monday! Be sure to get yours in by the deadline.
On Tuesday we’ll have the last Chas Peek (Russian conversation hour) of the semester. Be sure to come on by for conversation, snacks, and maybe some Russian songs and Russian games!
And on Wednesday we’ll have the last Kaffeestunde (German conversation hour) of the semester! Come join us for a little extra practice before finals–or just a fun way to destress before jumping into the pre-finals studying.