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Matryoshka Dolls

Get to know some of our students from prior study-abroad cohorts.

Studies in Moscow

Brent at the MetroCSUN's Russian Studies Program was initially part of the National Strategic Language Initiative, a federally funded program aimed at increasing and improving instruction in less commonly taught, vitally important languages. Our inaugural group made their trip to Russia in summer 2009. As with all cohorts, students stayed in the dormitories at the Russian State University for the Humanities, CSUN's Russian Studies institutional partner in Moscow. In addition to seminars and lectures at RSUH and beyond, students explored arts, history, commerce, and culture throughout Moscow, with a field trip to the rural countryside. Students came away with a contemporary, contextual understanding of both the similarities and differences between U.S. and Russian culture, everyday life, and national identity.

Final Projects

RGGU Upon returning from Moscow, the students of Cohort 1 completed their final research projects and presented their work, in Russian, to their peers, instructors, and invited guests. Their topics included:

Cohort 1 Students

Andrey Corral Andrey Corral

As a student at California State University, Northridge, I am pursuing a BS in applied mathematics and a minor in Russian. I have been studying Russian for four years. Last summer, I began working in the Russian Strategic Language Initiative program. This SLI program has provided me with valuable insights into the Russian language and culture. My goal relating to Russian is to be able to communicate mathematical concepts in Russian. I am currently working on a math research project with a mathematics department faculty member, which will hopefully teach me more about how to describe math in Russian.

Elyse Corrine Elyse Corrine

I came from California State University, Long Beach, to the SLI Russian program at Northridge. My major is computer engineering with a minor in Russian language. During the summer intensive program I tremendously improved my Russian skills. Currently I am studying at the St. Petersburg State University in Russia.

Robyn Latimer Robyn Latimer

My major is biochemistry, with career plans to perform medical research in a multicultural, multilingual environment. I want to become fluent in communicating in Russian at a professional level. Being multilingual has become increasingly important in our shrinking world, and having knowledge of more than one language and culture is essential for problem solving on a global scale. Russian is a globally significant language, and being an English/Russian bilingual professional will enhance my opportunities.

Joanne Lucas Joanne Lucas

When I was in college, I decided to devote my elective courses to Russian language study. These elective units were available because I had passed the French equivalency exam upon entering college. My interest in languages has never waned. I am currently studying Russian, French, Arabic, and modern Hebrew, with a goal of future employment as an interpreter at the United Nations. The Strategic Language Initiative summer program afforded me the thorough grammar review that I needed and it greatly enhanced my speaking ability.

Anna Patrikian Anna Patrikian

I was born in Moscow and lived there until age 3, when, in 1989, my family immigrated to the United States. Although Russian was my primary language, I quickly began to speak English. Now I strive every day to regain and expand my Russian language skills. I am a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles, with a major in international development studies and a minor in Russian language. I am enrolled in a variety of Russian courses so that I may improve in all areas of Russian fluency: grammar, reading, writing, and culture. In the summer of 2009, I studied in Moscow for six weeks in the Strategic Language Initiative program. Living and studying in Russia gave me the opportunity to practice my native language while experiencing the rich Russian culture that is my heritage. I plan to continue my education in Russian language in a graduate program and pursue a career where my language skills will be an asset.

Veronika Romanovskaya Veronika Romanovskaya

I am a student at California State University, Northridge, where I am pursuing a BS in accountancy, a BS in finance, and a minor in Russian. My family came from Belarus to the United States when I was 7. I understood some Russian then, but lost my ability to speak it within a few years. After high school I began to understand that Russian language was an integral part of my heritage as well as a tool to pursue business ventures in the future. Los Angeles has a large Russian community, so being able to speak the language will be a key means of obtaining clients if I am in the private sector. If I work with a government agency, my language will aid Russian community relations. The SLI program has been a great way to further my Russian language skills in both conversational and business environments.

Sarah Sluder Sarah Sluder

I am a linguistics major, currently taking classes at Pasadena City College and participating in the SLI program at Cal State University, Northridge. I am so excited to learn the Russian language and I consider myself very lucky to pursue this passion. My main goal is to speak Russian fluently. I have always been fascinated with other cultures and I can't wait to see where my proficiency takes me. The SLI program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I am truly appreciative of the teachers and staff who work so hard with us. I want to apply my Russian knowledge toward my future career.

Franky Telles Franky Telles

Growing up in West Hollywood, Calif., allowed me to sow the seeds of friendship with its very large Russian community. I wanted to understand the language and the culture, and the Strategic Language Initiative program has been very rewarding. This past summer was challenging, but I learned so much more about the rich Russian culture and language. I have a master's degree in geology and I teach part-time at the university. I am particularly interested in energy resources and climate change. Because of my Russian skills, I will be working part-time for the U.S. Navy oceanography program next year. I hope to one day teach in Russia, where I plan to pursue a doctorate. My year-long project is the production of a Russian film involving geology, culture, and suspense.

Jane Volfson Jane Volfson

I moved to the United States at age 7. I currently attend University of California, Santa Barbara, where I double major in political science and Slavic studies. I plan on studying law upon graduating university and I am on the UCSB mock trial team. I am also an international Latin ballroom dancer. In summer 2008 I was accepted to the SLI program, where I spent six weeks studying Russian language and grammar, six hours a day, five days a week. My plan is to become an attorney in the Los Angeles area and my language abilities will help me to accommodate the cities diverse communities.

Shaun Weissman Shaun Weissman

I attended high school for 18 months in the Ukraine, where we were required to study a language. I wanted to study something that I could use while I was there and Ukrainian wasn't offered, so I decided to take Russian since many people in Kiev speak the language. Despite all the difficulties and challenges it presented, I really enjoyed learning the language. I decided to continue my studies here at CSUN, where I'm a journalism major. I think it's very important to speak more than one language and I am really starting to find a passion for linguistics, Russian language in particular. This opportunity to go to Moscow and study the language intensively will allow me to use the language freely. I'm also interested in the career possibilities that could be available to me if I am able to master Russian. My long-term goal is to achieve natural fluency in both the language and the culture.

Brent Woo Brent Woo

When I first started taking Russian classes, I did not at all anticipate changing my academic focus completely. I entered UCLA as a business/economics student, but the complex grammar, foreign sounds, and beautiful words of Russian led me to the linguistics program, which I enjoy and love. Russian has become such an irresistible part of my studies that I devote more time to it weekly than any other single class I have taken, and I actively participate in cultural events and conferences. The SLI program at CSU Northridge has given me the opportunity of a lifetime to study in Moscow. While there I will write my second research paper concerning the Russian language. I intend to focus on the very casual register of speech employed by students and youth.