Student News

REEEC congratulates the following student award winners and the Summer 2017 FLAS fellows:

2017 Yaro Skalnik Prize for the Best Graduate Essay in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies:

  • Felix Cowan (PhD Student in History) for his essay, “Beyond Urban Boundaries: The Penny Press and Lower-Class Integration in the Russian Empire”
  • Daria Semenova (PhD Student in Slavic Languages and Literatures) for her essay, “A Robinson for an awakening nation: a case study on a translation which is not one”

Summer 2017 FLAS Fellows:

  • Tyler Dolan (PhD Student in Slavic Languages and Literatures) for Russian
  • Jacob Goldsmith (PhD Student in Slavic Languages and Literatures) for Russian
  • LeiAnna Hamel (PhD Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures) for Yiddish
  • Douglas Heintz (MS Candidate in Library and Information Science) for Russian
  • Marco Jaimes (PhD Candidate in History) for Czech
  • Jennifer Jenson (PhD Student in German Studies) for Russian
  • Benjamin Krupp (PhD Student in Anthropology) for Russian
  • Thornton Miller (PhD Candidate in Musicology) for Russian
  • Hannah Werner (PhD Student in History) for Yiddish

FLAS Fellow Benjamin Wheeler Starts a Radio Show in Tbilisi, Georgia

Benjamin Wheeler

REEEC FLAS Fellow Benjamin Wheeler (PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology) has spent the 2016-2017 academic year in Tbilisi, Georgia, studying Georgian and Anthropology at Tbilisi State University. While attending classes at a local university, he has started an English-language radio show on the university’s radio channel (GIPA FM 94.3) called “Caucasus All Frequency,” which plays music from the Caucasus region and explores “the many meanings and unique stories behind the music.”

Check out Ben’s show at: https://soundcloud.com/radiogipa/caucasus-all-frequency

A Summer in St. Petersburg

Peter-Paul Fortress

Peter-Paul Fortress

This past summer, I had the opportunity to study Russian abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, thanks to the Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship. I had been to St. Pete before in late winter of 2013 on a short homestay. Prior to leaving, I was ecstatic to experience a familiar city transformed by summer. I expected to have a tough immersive experience with Russian while also being able to soak up the culture first hand.

My summer abroad strengthened my language capabilities in ways I couldn’t have imagined. If you have ever been on a crowded subway or even through an old McDonald’s drive-through, you know the struggle of understanding someone who talks too quickly through a grumbled speaker. This is the norm on Russian public transit. By the end of my term, the grumbled Russian ramblings became understandable. In August, I could carry on a conversation about Russian-American relations with the bartender who, in June, referred to me as the “silly American woman.”

Peterhof Fountain

Peterhof Fountain

Outside of classes, I spent my time in some of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve ever been. The Summer Garden was my favorite place to sit and watch people. The first time I was in St. Pete, the garden was closed because it was winter. The Peter-Paul Fortress was where I spent most of my Saturday mornings. It was my favorite spot in the city in 2013, but it was even better with warmer weather. I experienced new places, such as Moscow, Peterhof, and some small villages and towns outside of the city. During my last week in St. Pete, I took a boat tour around the city, as it is made up of many canals. I watched the sunset over the fortress and, later that night, I watched the drawbridges rise over the Neva river. It was a necessary sight to see when you’re there over the summer.

I learned a lot about myself, the Russian language, and the culture during my time in St. Pete. To some degree, I expected much of what I learned and experienced. Perhaps the most valuable learning moments I had on my study abroad trip were through experiencing Russia as a foreigner on an extended stay. Going into my study abroad, I expected to be treated like I was on my first trip: people weren’t reluctant to use English to help me out when I was struggling to communicate my thoughts; when presented with my documents, they were kind and even struck up a conversation about me being American. This summer, the kindness towards my being American was drastically lacking. I experienced hate for my nationality. While in a McDonald’s, I was yelled at to “get out of our country.” Experiencing blatant distaste due to where I call home was new for me. What I felt in these instances has been branded into my brain more so than anything else I learned while abroad. Everyone says that the study abroad experience changes your perspective on the world and can even be life-changing. This is true in more ways than I can explain.

Sharadyn Ciota is an undergraduate double majoring in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois. She was a Summer 2016 REEEC FLAS Fellow.

2016-2017 FLAS Fellows

REEEC would like to recognize our AY 2016-2017 FLAS Fellows. Congratulations to all!

Graduate Students:

  • Kate Butterworth, Library and Information Science (Georgian)
  • Tyler Dolan, Slavic Languages and Literatures (Russian)
  • Kyle Estes, Political Science (Kyrgyz)
  • Kathleen Gergely, REEEC (Russian)
  • Nadia Hoppe, Slavic Languages and Literatures (Russian)
  • Benjamin Krupp, Anthropology (Russian)
  • Matthew McWilliams (Russian)
  • Lucy Pakhnyuk, REEEC (Ukrainian)
  • Morgan Shafter, Slavic Languages and Literatures (Russian)
  • Serenity Orengo, Slavic Languages and Literatures (Russian)
  • Hannah Werner, History (Yiddish)
  • Benjamin Wheeler, Musicology (Georgian)

Undergraduate Students:

  • Sharadyn Ciota, Political Science (Russian)
  • Vladimir Potiyevskiy, Liberal Arts and Sciences (Russian)
AY 2016-2017 FLAS Fellows

AY 2016-2017 FLAS Fellows Matthew McWilliams, Lucy Pakhnyuk, Kate Butterworth, Nadia Hoppe, Sharadyn Ciota, Kathleen Gergely, and Serenity Orengo

Spring 2016 Honors

REEEC would like to congratulate the following student award winners:

2016 Yaro Skalnik Prize for Best Student Essay

Graduate Student – Matthew Klopfenstein for his essay, “Modernity and the Task of Ozdorovlenie: Russian Doctors and the Discourse of School Hygiene” written for HIST 594 – Introduction to Historical Writing (Spring 2016) taught by Tamara Chaplin and Nils Jacobsen (paper adviser, Mark Steinberg).

Summer 2016 FLAS Fellows

Graduate Students

  • Jeffrey Castle (Germanic Languages and Literatures) – Czech
  • Frederick Miller (Music) – Russian
  • Tyler Dolan (Slavic Languages and Literatures) – Russian
  • LeiAnna Hamel (Slavic Languages and Literatures) – Russian

Undergraduate Students

  • Sharadyn Ciota (Political Science) – Russian
  • Ariel Glaviano (Applied Health Sciences) – Russian

REEEC would also like to congratulate the following graduating students:

M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

  • Emily Lipira
  • Bethany Wages

B.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

  • Gabriella Repala

 

Springtime Honors

REEEC would like to congratulate the following student award winners:

2015 Yaro Skalnik Prize for the Best Student Essay

Graduate Student – Alana Holland (REEEC) – “Writing the Holocaust where ‘Things’re a little diffrent’: Jáchym Topol and the Merits of the Postmodernist Style to Presenting the Holocaust in Eastern Europe”

Prof. Carol Leff (Assoc. Professor of Political Science) announcing the graduate student winner of the Yaro Skalnik Prize - Alana Holland.

Prof. Carol Leff (Assoc. Professor of Political Science) announcing the graduate student winner of the Yaro Skalnik Prize – Alana Holland.

Undergraduate Student – Lucy Pakhnyuk (REEEC and Political Science) – “From Hybrid Regime to Holy Regime: An Analysis of Putin’s Discursive Politics Since 2011”

Prof. Carol Leff announcing the undergraduate student winner of the Yaro Skalnik Prize - Lucy Pakhnyuk.

Prof. Carol Leff announcing the undergraduate student winner of the Yaro Skalnik Prize – Lucy Pakhnyuk.

Summer 2015 FLAS Fellows

Graduate Students:

  • Anna Harbaugh (History) – Georgian
  • Nadia Hoppe (Slavic Languages and Literatures) – Russian
  • Sabrina Jaszi (Library and Information Science) – Russian
  • Emily Lipira (REEEC) – Russian
  • Mitchell Margolis (Urban and Regional Planning) – Turkish
  • Matthew McWilliams (REEEC) – Russian
  • Alejandra Pires (Slavic Languages and Literatures) – Russian
  • Bethany Wages (REEEC) – Turkish
  • Austin Yost (History) – Russian

Undergraduate Students:

  • Anthony Pearce (Slavic Languages and Literatures) – Russian
  • Gabriella Repala (REEEC) – Russian

Kate Butterworth’s Summer in Georgia

This past summer, I had the opportunity to study in Tbilisi, Georgia. I spent the time learning the Georgian language, and becoming acquainted with the culture and society. Georgia is a unique place, situated in one of the most geographically and linguistically varied regions of the world. The Caucasus mountain range serves as a natural border to Russia, separating the South and North Caucasus. Aside from Russia, Georgia is situated between the Black Sea, portions of Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. It has been a crossroads of many different cultures and empires throughout its history. These influences are evident in the current culture and language. While Georgian is the most prominent language in the Kartvelian group, it has been influenced by Greek, Russian, different stages of Persian, and now increasingly, English, particularly in government language. Regarding the separatist regions, Abkhazians and South Ossetians are ethnically and linguistically distinct from Georgians. Their claims for self determination predate the Soviet period and were vocalized prominently during the Russian Civil War.

I lived in Nadzaladevi with a very welcoming and generous couple. On the back streets of the neighborhood, there are small hole-in-the-wall shops accompanied by stands of fruit and vegetables. Walking up the steep and narrow cobblestone streets behind the apartment blocks, there is a clear view of the city and the mountains beyond. Tbilisi is home to the National Archives and a number of museums. Among them is the Museum of Soviet Occupation and the National Art Gallery, which has a number of pieces by Georgian artists. A few metro stops away is Old Tbilisi, where there are a number of outdoor cafes, bars, markets, a botanical garden, and the banya, which sits below the Narikala Fortress. That fortress has stood there since Tbilisi’s founding. Old Tbilisi is a nice historical part of the city and attracts many tourists. I took language lessons through the Language School there. Lessons were engaging, and I was fortunate to learn from a very good teacher.

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Aside from lessons and the commute to and from, I was able to travel. At one point, I went with a friend to Stepantsminda, in the Kazbegi district of Mtkheta-Mtianeti. It lies just south of the Russian border along the Georgian Military Road. It is a very popular destination for many people, especially in the summer, because, aside from its beauty, it is considerably cooler. In the remoteness of the mountains, there is a scattering of villages and livestock ambling about, often paying no heed to cars making hairpin turns up the winding road. In stark contrast to this scene, is Batumi on the Black Sea. Home to casinos, oil refineries, and a beautiful coastline, it is quickly becoming an economic hub in Ajaria.

Spending time in Georgia not only provided more depth to my studies, but also afforded me the opportunity to build relationships with people, which would not have been possible otherwise. Living with hosts added another valuable dimension to my experience and gave me ample time to practice speaking.

Kate Butterworth is a Master’s student in the REEEC program. Her research interests include ethnicity and identity in the North and South Caucasus as well as the efficacy of socio-economic policy in Georgia.  She received her BA from SUNY Brockport in 2011.