The Slavic Department at Connecticut College has run course-based faculty-led travel abroad with SRAS six times since 2008. This has proved essential to their department-building efforts. These short, impactful experiences abroad can educate and excite students in ways that make them want to dig deeper and know more. Students who go abroad are more likely to declare majors in the subjects that they explore abroad.
In 2023, however, the language for Russian language study abroad has drastically changed. With Russia no longer an option, how could Connecticut College continue this tradition that has become so important to their department and to their students?
In the 30-minute podcast conversation below, Andrea Lanoux of Connecticut College and SRAS Director Renee Stillings detail how the college was able to offer a new and impactful program in Georgia that offers local cultural immersion and new perspectives on the Russian language. For still more, keep scrolling for more description, a video of student reactions to the program, and pictures.
Slavic Department Led Study Program in Georgia
Working with SRAS, Professors Andrea Lanoux and Petko Ivanov of Connecticut College decided to move their programming to the country of Georgia. It turned out to be the perfect fit.
With a base in Georgia, the focus had to be shifted from Russian history and culture to Georgian. The students dived into many important aspects of Georgian identity. They learned Georgian dances and to prepare Caucasian foods. They learned about language policy – both that which brought Russian to Georgia and that which is now boosting Georgia’s own language.
The students met young Russian-speaking Georgians that showed them their favorite local places in Tbilisi. They explored the nearby Caucasus Mountains that have both shaped Georgia’s proud local history and culture and made the country a geopolitical flashpoint for the empires that surround it.
Professor Lanoux observed that by exploring “the nature, the culture, the people, the food,” students came home with excitement for a new geographic region and a new passion for the Russian language. They also came away with a new perception of Russian not as a language connected to one country and one ethnicity, but as one that is spoken by many peoples in many countries.
Student Reactions to the Faculty-Led Program in Georgia
The video below was created by Andrew Kupovich, one of the participants of the 2023 Connecticut College Faculty Led Program to Georgia. It captures student reactions to what they saw and learned while on this SRAS-organized program!