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Russian Flagship Program receives renewed funding

  |   Anika Chaturvedi   |   Permalink   |   News Release,   Students and Faculty

The Russian Flagship Program secured $344,000 in National Security Education Program (NSEP) funding for student scholarships and $374,000 in operational funds for the 2022-2023 academic year. Additionally, six Russian Flagship students were awarded prestigious Boren scholarships for the Russian Overseas Flagship Capstone Year abroad in Kazakhstan.

The program, directed by Victoria Hasko, associate professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education, is a collaborative initiative between the Department of Language and Literacy Education and Franklin College of Arts and Science’s Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies. The program is funded by the Language Flagship, a public/private partnership sponsored by the NSEP.

In summer 2022, the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s Immersion in the Russian Language, Culture, and Communities in the Baltics program shifted to a domestic location in Honolulu, Hawaii due to security concerns. For summer 2023, the program intends to shift back to the Baltics in Riga, Latvia and will take place June 19-Aug. 13, 2023.

The program is designed for students working toward advanced proficiency in Russian with an interest in gaining geopolitical understanding of the Russian sphere of influence in the Baltics and in growing their global and intercultural awareness competency by engaging with Russian-speaking communities in the heart of Eastern Europe.

The immersive environment includes intensive academic programming and a wide selection of planned interactions with the local Russian-speaking community, with an average of 20 hours of formal instruction per week. Additionally, individualized tutoring for two hours per week, semi-structured social activities with conversational partners for at least four hours per week, and a Russian area studies lecture series will take place.

Students will also take weekly excursions around Riga and Latvia and as well as guided multi-day trips to nearby countries, allowing for an exploration of the intertwined histories, politics, and cultures of Scandinavian and East Slavic territories, including:

  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Stockholm/Uppsala, Sweden
Russian Flagship students will receive scholarships to support this study abroad program, and the program offers homestays with carefully vetted Russian-speaking families, including breakfast and dinners with host families.

The 2022 residential immersion program in Hawaii offered a rigorous academic immersion experience, including 20 hours of intensive Russian coursework a week, as well as daily co-curricular activities featuring a variety of clubs, guided tours around Oahu exploring globally- and locally-relevant disciplinary topics, hikes, and leisure—all in Russian and while taking in the majestic beauty and rich local culture of Hawaii. Additionally, the program offered tutoring, virtual Russian-speaking conversational partners from Latvia, and a virtual course on the history of modern Russia offered in English with discussions in Russian.

Abby Herring (A.B. ’25), a Russian studies major who took part in the summer program, said it was a wonderful opportunity.

“Even though we weren’t able to travel to Latvia as we originally planned, we made the most of our time in Honolulu and enjoyed the program just as much as we would have if we had been in Latvia,” Herring said. “Being given the opportunity to travel and study Russian with some of my good friends in Honolulu is an adventure I will truly remember and look back on fondly for the rest of my life. It would not have been possible without the hard work of our director, Dr. Hasko, who I am so thankful for!”

Mackenzie Buck (A.B. ’25), who is majoring in Russian, public relations, and political science, said the summer program greatly strengthened her knowledge of the language.

“There’s no question in my mind that our experience in Hawaii was responsible for so much of my language growth. The immersion has completely redesigned my language learning experience—I now know the difference between sounds that I didn’t know before, vocabulary that I learned in Hawaii that I wouldn’t have learned in Latvia, etc.,” Buck said. “As a student studying a language not commonly taught in the U.S. in this way, developing a tighter bond with such a talented group of people who share the same goal was exceptional, and for that I’m sincerely indebted to the Flagship.”

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