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Peer-to-Peer Russian Trips to Help Build Understanding

Ten UCF students in the Russian Studies program and six faculty members have returned from a summer trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg as part of a U.S. Department of State grant to exchange cultural information and communicate in both languages to strengthen mutual understanding.

The U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program was led by Alla Kourova, a UCF assistant professor of Russian, and included visits to Red Square, the Hermitage, Catherine the Great’s Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress, the Grot School for Blind and Visually Impaired students, and other excursions.

The nearly $100,000 grant is ongoing, and this November students from the Grot School will visit UCF to study English, learn about American culture, attend classes, learn about the American education system, and take trips to a theme park and the beach.

Also this summer, the Russian Club at UCF sponsored five students who participated in a U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program to continue their studies of Russian language and culture at Moscow State University. All of the students have a minor in Russian studies and some have a certificate in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

The students and Kourova participated in a variety of workshops at Moscow State and visited the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for a meeting with the assistant cultural affairs officer, Jennifer D. Washeleski, to learn about career opportunities in international affairs.

Kourova and former Russian Club president, Irina Pidberejna, visited Rostov-on-Don, Novocherkassk, Russia, where they participated in regional conferences and presented in several workshops. Pidberejna also visited the office of the Ukrainian Down Syndrome Organization in Kiev on behalf of the Russian Club, which has been supporting the organization through fundraisers.