The Russian Domestic Undergraduate Flagship Program at the University of Georgia recently received a $100,000 intensive domestic language studies scholarship from the Institute of International Education and the National Security Education Program to help fund the study abroad experience of Russian Flagship students.
The program—which admitted its freshman cohort of 20 students in fall 2018—awards each student $5,000 to study abroad during the summer and $15,000 to study abroad for an entire academic year in any Flagship-approved, Russian-speaking country.
Recently, two UGA students qualified to complete their capstone year in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they will stay with a Russian-speaking family, receive intensive instruction in Russian and complete a six-month internship related to their major.
“It’s amazing that students who have not gone through the entire Flagship program actually qualified, and both of them are nonheritage students,” said Russian Flagship Director Victoria Hasko, an associate professor in the department of language and literacy education. “They are very excited to participate in this academic yearlong overseas program.”
Additionally, 11 internal and external awards, totaling nearly $50,000, were received by Russian Flagship students at the university, including scholarships from the Boren Awards and Project GO, which provides ROTC students funds for critical languages studies both domestically and abroad.
Flagship student Matthew Goldenberg, a Russian and history double major who will graduate in May 2020, was one of seven UGA students to receive the prestigious Boren Scholarship to study Russian in Kazakhstan.
Last December, the university held the first Russian Flagship Winter Masquerade Ball at the Georgian Hall Ballroom in Athens to celebrate the program’s launch. Since then, Flagship students have been invited to attend several special events on campus, including the UGA Russian Flagship Program Career Day, where students could hear about the experiences of recent graduates of the program working in fields ranging from international research and practice to government security and program coordination.
“I’m so pleased that [students] have taken the initiative to be a part of the Russian Flagship program and for doing something that’s very different and rewarding,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I’m sure [they] will look back on this experience and be pleased with their decision to go in this direction.”
Flagship students have also presented at conferences and participated in a poster symposium; a documentary screening at Ciné on Russian youth culture; a conference held by the Center for International Trade and Security in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs; joint lunches hosted by the Russian and German clubs; and an exclusive Russian Flagship tour of the Georgia Museum of Art’s “One Heart, One Way: The Journey of a Princely Art Collection.”
“Already, the program has helped me in my internship at a regulatory consulting company, and it will soon allow me to present research relevant to my career at the UCLA Undergraduate Conference on Slavic and East/Central European Studies,” said Erica Bressner, a second-year Flagship student majoring in economics. “As a former NSLI-Y participant, I am very happy to have another Department of State Exchange Program as part of my undergraduate experience.”
The program is currently working on creating a Russian language learning community for future Flagship students in Mary Lyndon Hall, which will open during the academic year of 2020-2021.
“Students have to feel a sense of community,” said Hasko. “The success of the program depends on how well we are able to build a community of learners, and right now, our students refer to themselves as a family.