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Students hone Russian language skills at Appalachian

russian_crafts_t.jpgBOONE—Twelve students attending the third Russian language institute at Appalachian State University have diverse reasons for their interest in Russia and its language.

Brandon Cortino, left, and Lizzy ForwardBrandon Cortino, left, and Lizzy Forward were among a dozen students attending a Russian language institute at Appalachian State University this summer. The institute focused on Russian spoken in business settings and also included information about the Russian culture. Cortino and Forward hold crafts they made using traditional Russian designs. (Photo by Jane Nicholson)

An interest in family heritage brought Jane Chernylch to the camp. For Brandon Cortino, it was the beauty of the language and the Russian culture, and an interest in an international career.

They are among high school and college students from New Jersey, Virginia and the Carolinas who attended the two-week program, funded by a $92,226 grant from the U.S. National Security Agency’s StarTalk language program.

Cortino is an Appalachian senior, triple majoring in global studies, international political science and international criminal justice. He also is minoring in Russian and is president of the Russian Club.

“I have always thought that Russian was an incredibly beautiful language,” the Boone resident said. “There has always been a certain level of mystique, especially about foreign cultures, especially Russia, which has had such a massive impact during the past 100 years on the entire world, including the changing political dynamic, and technological and economic advances.”

Cortino is interested in using his language skills with the military or in an international business setting.

Chernylch, a senior from D.W. Daniel High School in Central, S.C., was born in Russia and moved to the United States at age 5.

“I have been speaking Russian in the home, which helps me keep up on my oral skills, but I needed to brush up on my reading and writing. I also was interested in an opportunity that had a business focus,” said Chernlych, who wants to pursue an international business degree when she goes to college. She said she found the institute’s reading and writing assignments most beneficial.

Lizzy Forward from Herndon, Va., is a junior at Langley High School. She has studied Russian at her high school, in part because of her mother’s Ukrainian heritage. “I was really interested to learn more about the language and the Russian culture,” she said.

“Living near D.C., a lot of our family and friends are ex-CIA,” said Forward, who also has an interest in math, science and computer science. “I could see becoming an analyst,” she said of a possible career.

Both Cortino and Forward said the opportunity to enhance their language fluency and learn more vocabulary and improve their Russian pronunciation had been the greatest benefits of the summer institute.  Students also had the opportunity to talk with individuals who conduct business in Russia.

The institute introduces students to Russian used in business settings. It also introduces students to the country’s culture through song and craft activities. Students speak only Russian during the two-week immersion program.

The goal of the StarTalk program is to expand national capacity in critical languages, such as Russian, Arabic and Chinese.

The institute was directed by Dr. Irina Barclay, an assistant professor in Appalachian’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Also assisting with the institute were Kateryna Decker, Poulina Rubinskaia, Olena Berry and Alla Neshatayeva.