Russian Heritage Speakers Program
The Individualized Russian Language Program for Heritage Speakers is intended to address the specific needs of students who speak Russian at home or with relatives, or who grew up speaking Russian and wish to strengthen their Russian skills. Program participants work with American Councils staff and host university faculty to develop a tutorial program serving their unique needs as language learners. All individualized programs focus on the development of Russian language skills, including grammar, conversation, and phonetics; courses in literature, history, and area studies are available for advanced students. Participants attend a minimum of twelve hours of tutorials per week.
- Moscow, once draped in Soviet symbols, has readily adopted the trappings of capitalism and is now replete with neon billboards and shopping malls. Decidedly the center of political and economic power, the capital now rivals St. Petersburg in culture and the arts. The Moscow International University serves as the host institution for RLASP participants in Moscow. Founded by G. A. Yagodin, Minister of Education under Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow International is the first accredited private university in the post-Soviet Russian Federation. It specializes in the teaching of foreign languages, economics, finance, management, ecology, and sociology. American Councils places students in the university's Department of Russian as a Foreign Language.
- St. Petersburg, Russia's most western city, is a monument to the country's past imperial grandeur. A work of art in itself, St. Petersburg remains the center of Russia's artistic life. The Russian State Pedagogical (Gertsen) University serves as the host institution to RLASP participants in St. Petersburg. Located just behind the Kazan Cathedral in downtown St. Petersburg, the Gertsen University is one of the leading educational institutions in all of Russia. American Councils places students in the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language.
Upon request, American Councils staff will arrange internships or community service placements for academic year and semester participants. While American Councils does not arrange formal internship placements due to the brevity of the program, summer participants are encouraged to pursue volunteer opportunities. Internship placements depend significantly on the participant's Russian-proficiency level and the needs of the Russian organization. Internships are unpaid and non-credit bearing; therefore, American Councils strongly encourages students to pursue internships and community service activities in fields which are of interest to them. American Councils asks that students realistically evaluate their time commitments while in Russia, in order to maximize the experience of an internship or community service.
Participants consistently rate their internships and community service as substantive and valuable; many former students report that their out-of-classroom experiences gave them unique insights into Russian society and language, as well as a deep sense of personal fulfillment.
Program participants have recently completed internships at the following organizations:
Academy of Sciences, Carnegie Moscow Center, Center of International Cooperation, DHL Office, Future Leaders American Corner, German Forwarding Company, Greenpeace, Hermitage Museum, Herzen University Newsletter, International Banking Institute, KORA Café, Lenfilm Studios, Moscow Times, Museum of the Bolshoy Theatre, Museum of the Political History of Russia, National Institute of Democracy, St. Petersburg Merchant's Club, Social Initiatives Assistance Institute, Social Workers' Center of Vladimir, Vitrina Press, Women's Crisis Center in Vladimir.
- Summer: February 15th
- Fall/Academic Year: March 15th
- Spring: October 1st
Room and Board: $1,500
Excursions and In-country Travel: $500
Health Insurance: $150
International Airfare: $1,000
Visa Fee: $200
Items not included in the Summer 2013 program cost:
- Books and supplies: $150
- Local transportation: $100
- Lunches (not included in Board cost): $200
Program price includes international airfare; housing; tuition; most meals; all group travel in Russia; insurance; orientation in Washington, D.C.; and a Russian visa.
FALL SEMESTER 2013 & SPRING SEMESTER 2014
Room and Board: $3,000
Excursions and In-country Travel: $800
Health Insurance: $300
Visa Fee: $300*
ACADEMIC YEAR 2013-2014
Room and Board: $6,300
Excursions and In-country Travel: $1,600
Health Insurance: $600
Visa Fee: $300*
Items not included in the Fall, Spring, and Academic Year program cost:
- Domestic transportation to Washington, DC for pre-departure orientation: cost varies
- International Airfare to/from Russia: approximately $1,000 - $1,500**
- Books and supplies: $150 (per semester)
- Local transportation: $200 (per semester)
- Lunches not included in Board cost: $400 (per semester)
Program price includes housing; tuition; most meals; all group travel in Russia; insurance; orientation in Washington, D.C.; and a Russian visa.
*The visa fee will be waived for students who do not need a Russian visa to participate on the program (e.g. Russian passport holders). However, these students will be charged a $100 registration fee.
Please note that Russian passport holders will be expected to travel on their Russian passports and, therefore, will be treated as Russian citizens abroad. The U.S. Embassy may not be able to assist Russian passport holders if any issues or problems arise. Male Russian passport holders between the ages of 18 and 27 may encounter problems if they have not satisfied service requirements in Russia. Please see the Department of State website on dual citizenship for more information.
**Participants have the option of purchasing directly from American Councils a round-trip ticket on the flight with resident directors from Washington, DC to Russia or purchasing their own airline ticket. The pre-departure orientation held in Washington, DC immediately before the program is mandatory for all participants.
- 2012-13 Academic Year: August 28, 2012 - May 16, 2013
- 2013 Spring: January 22 - May 16, 2013
- 2013 Summer: June 4 - August 5, 2013
- 2013 Fall: August 29 (departure for Russia) - December 19, 2013
- 2013-2014 Academic Year: August 29 (departure for Russia) - May 20, 2014
- 2014 Spring: January 23 (departure for Russia) - May 20, 2014
For information on deferring and withdrawing, please visit our program policies webpage.
Program participants may live in a university dormitory or with a Russian host family. The overwhelming majority of American Councils participants choose the host-family option. All host families provide private rooms, telephone access, and keys for their American guests. Host families also provide two meals per day. Living with a host family immerses program participants in everyday life, while offering some of the comforts of home. Host families also expose participants to authentic, contemporary language and culture in informal, social settings.
All host families are screened, selected, and monitored by American Councils home-stay coordinators and resident directors. Students wishing to move from a host family into a dormitory or from a dormitory into a host family may do so at any point in the program.
All Individualized Program participants attend a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of their program. Orientation sessions address health and safety, Russian academic culture, host-family life, culture shock, and strategies to maximize language gain. Participants have a chance to meet and get to know their resident directors, fellow participants, and program alumni during the two-day program. Students are housed in three-person rooms in a downtown hotel, a short walk from the American Councils Washington office. Participants depart for Russia from Washington, DC at the end of the program. Lodging and meals are provided.
Participants in the Individualized Program take an active role in shaping their own curricula. When applying to the program, applicants write a short essay outlining their study goals and describing the academic program that they believe will best meet their needs as language students. American Councils Washington staff, resident directors, and Russian university faculty then work with each student to develop these initial proposals into effective tutorial programs. All programs focus on intensive language gain in the areas of grammar, conversation, and vocabulary development. Participants attend at least 12 hours per week of intensive, individualized classes. While almost all classes are conducted as tutorials, students may study in pairs on some occasions.
In addition, heritage participants may attend regular classes in numerous academic departments at their host universities during the academic year (September through May). Advanced participants may substitute two of these classes for credit in place of two American Councils courses (depending on course availability, prerequisites established by the host university, and the express pre-approval of American Councils). Applicants should note, however, that all academic credit at Bryn Mawr is issued through the Russian Department. Participants seeking to obtain academic credit in other disciplines should contact American Councils.
Host University Faculty
All courses are conducted by host university faculty with extensive experience in teaching Russian as a foreign language to American students. Faculty at our partner universities also attend regular development seminars sponsored by American Councils and led by U.S. experts in Russian-language pedagogy. Recent seminars have addressed American academic culture, the American idea of a liberal arts education, student-centered learning, and communicative teaching strategies.
In 2000 American Councils established a peer-tutoring program for all Individualized Program participants. Students now have the chance to meet for two hours per week with tutors recruited from the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language at their host universities. In addition to valuable academic support, the peer-tutoring program provides an important opportunity for American students to meet their contemporaries in the increasingly fast-paced, cosmopolitan culture of post-Soviet Russia.
For more information, contact the American Councils Outbound Office: 202 833 7522, firstname.lastname@example.org