David L. Boren Awards for International Study

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From French to Russian

Published in October 2008 Newsletter

A 2006 Scholar from Middlebury College with a major in International Relations and a minor in French studied abroad on the Middlebury School in Russia program for one year. During her program, she studied Russian and political science at Yaroslavl State University and Irkutsk State University and stayed with a babushka, a host grandmother.

During her first semester abroad, the Scholar studied geopolitics and the Russian political system with international students. In the second semester, she decided to continue her course of study in class with Russian students. She also took dance and aerobics classes with locals, which allowed her to use her Russian with local residents and continue to improve her proficiency. The Scholar also had the opportunity to travel to the Buryatia Republic and Mongolia, where she expanded her knowledge of the region’s culture and history.

After having taken classes in French at Middlebury Language School, the Scholar added to her linguistic repertoire by beginning to study Russian. She decided to study in Russia because there is more demand for it than for Romance languages in the federal government. While studying abroad in Russia, the Scholar learned more about Russian political thinkers and raised her language proficiency level to advanced-high.

The Scholar is interested in working overseas in the Foreign Service for the State Department and would like to pursue a master’s degree in international environmental policy. The Boren experience showed her that she wants to use her language skills to work on political issues.