New program in Russia offers more than language
by Leslie Vryenhoek
This semester, four Arts students are soaking up the history, language and culture in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. They’re taking part in a new semester-long study abroad program organized by the Department of German and Russian.
The students are studying at one of the top-ranked institutions in Russia, the Linguistic University of Nizhny Novgorod (LUNN). In the summer of 2006, Memorial conducted a five-week program at LUNN. Dr. Fred White, associate dean of research and graduate studies, co-ordinated that program and this expansion from the Memorial side. He said the full-semester offers an even richer experience.
“In addition to improving their conversational Russian language skills, students will expand their understanding of Russian social and cultural issues,” he explained, noting that the students will take four courses, two that emphasize language studies, one on the politics of Russia and one that explores social and cultural customs.
The students will live in international dorms. LUNN is located within the historic district of Nizhny Novgorod, one of the oldest cities in Russia and a vibrant centre of culture and industry. Several culturally significant excursions have been planned.
Laura Smith went on that summer trip to LUNN in 2006, and now she’s heading back for the semester.
“Not only did we get Russian language experience, but we gained valuable cultural knowledge and learned a little about the world outside of Canada. I don’t think the things that we have learned from those five weeks could be replicated in a classroom,” she said.
According to Dr. White, the new study abroad program builds on a growing relationship with LUNN that also brings faculty from that institution to Memorial. Dr. Natalia Gronskaya spent two semesters at Memorial as a visiting professor in 2004 and 2006, and now co-ordinates the student program for LUNN.
“That means that we have someone there who knows the level that our students are working at, and knows what it means to a student to be from Newfoundland,” Dr. White said.
Currently, Memorial is hosting Dr. Marina Grineva, visiting professor from LUNN.
Arts students also left this month for Nice, France, on an exchange program run by the Department of French and Spanish, for the Harlow campus in England, and on Political Science exchanges to Sweden and Ireland.