OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Oklahoma City will be hosting an immersion-style STARTALK Russian summer camp for high school students from July 10 to 31, followed by 10 months of free Russian classes via Zoom from August 1 to May 31, 2023.
The STARTALK program is free for students and is funded by a grant from the National Security Agency for Critical Languages.
Entitled “Connecting Peoples and Cultures: The Russian Language Through Arts and Digital Media”, the program is designed to increase fluency in the Russian language and the cultures of Russia, Eurasia and Europe. from the East, said program director Sabina Amanbayeva.
“We are very excited to offer this camp to high school students in Oklahoma and beyond,” said Amanbayeva, who teaches world literature and the Russian language at OCU.
“Russian is considered one of the ‘critical languages’ for national security and offers job opportunities in government, security, cultural exchange, translation and other fields,” Amanbayeva added.
“More than that, our program aims to give students a window into a different world – from great Russian writers and artists from Anton Chekhov to Tchaikovsky, to modern Russian-speaking republics that were once part of the former Soviet Union.”
The camp’s mission is to show the interdependence of Russian and American cultures and promote a culturally informed understanding of the world, Amanbayeva said.
The program is open to 24 students in grades 9 to 12. Twelve students from Oklahoma and 12 other states will be accepted. Beginners are welcome – no Russian language proficiency is required for admission.
Students will be divided into groups: “absolute beginners”, or those who have no prior knowledge of Russian, and “advanced beginners”, those who have already studied Russian but are still at the “beginner” level.
Applications are accepted online until February 15th. Applications will be followed by Zoom interviews and requests for letters of recommendation.
The program aims to raise Russian language proficiency from beginner to high novice on the ACTFL proficiency scale, and up to a low intermediate level after the 10-month virtual follow-up sessions.
Amanbayeva, a native Russian speaker, said she especially hopes to reach underrepresented students who may not have the opportunity to study foreign languages in their schools.
During the program, students will spend three weeks in residence at the OCU. They will have four hours of language instruction per day, five days per week, followed by two hours of cultural / artistic activities and a total of 26 hours of experience-based learning in visual arts, dance, choir and theater.
They will also have career workshops led by two Foreign Service officers from the US State Department, and a workshop and concert by OCU alumnus Kyle Dillingham and his band Horseshoe Road. The group has represented the United States in 41 countries and has toured Kuwait and Somalia sponsored by the State Department.
Students will also take field trips to Oklahoma sites with Russian cultural offerings, such as the Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa; Eastern Orthodox Church of Saint Anthony; and EuroMart, a European food store; the Fred Jones Museum of Art in Norman, exhibiting paintings by Russian artists; and various cultural sites in Oklahoma City.
After the residential part, learners will participate in bi-monthly “Russian café” meetings via Zoom for a total of 45 hours, during which they will meet their language teachers and peers to develop their language and cultural skills for the following academic year. . “Russian Cafe” meetings are designed to help learners maintain connections and friendships, as well as a sustained interest in studying the Russian region.
“We hope that the combination of language proficiency, increased cultural skills from another part of the world, and exposure to the university way of life will encourage learners to pursue higher education and intercultural experiences, such as advanced language studies and study abroad, ”added Amanbayeva.
For more information, contact Amanbayeva by email at [email protected]