Lee Sullivan has studied with SRAS in nearly all our locations – many of them new. Back home at Stetson University in Florida, she’s majoring in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies while also taking extensive coursework in computer science and cybersecurity. She has won multiple scholarships that have allowed her to study in, travel to, or gain experience in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Poland, and Russia.
SRAS program director Renee Stillings sat down to talk with Lee about how these diverse locations compare and contrast with one another. They also discuss the many discoveries that such extensive travels and studies uncover, realizing that the world and its history are much more complex and interesting than one would think from watching the news or even studying at home.
Studying Abroad Across Eurasia
Lee Sullivan’s study abroad experiences have been diverse – and far from simple.
She started in Vladivostok, Russia where she was studying Russia and the Asia Pacific in spring of 2022 – and was part of the cohort of students that were then evacuated to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to complete their programs after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Near the end of this program, Lee was able to join another cohort of evacuated students for her first experience in the Caucasus – short visits to Armenia and Georgia. She spent much of her summer in Riga, Latvia – practicing her Russian more while also participating online in the Security and Society Summer School – usually physically based in Warsaw, Poland, but held online that year as the war created a housing shortage in Warsaw as refugees flooded in from Ukraine. Most recently, she’s spent a year in Georgia studying Identity and Conflict in the Caucasus in Tbilisi, which included travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan, and RSL in Batumi, Georgia.
Lee has been the recipient of Critical Language Scholarships, Boren Awards, Grants from SPREES at Stetson University, SRAS Program Grants, and SRAS Research Internships which have helped fund her time abroad – and helped her to build her resume through writing and publication.
Although her path has not been the easiest, Lee says that she has been grateful for the personal growth that the challenge has afforded her. It has also allowed her to see the importance of understanding the major place that Anatolyan (Turkish) and Persian (Iranian) civilizations have held in world history – and the signifcant influence they still hold within the Caucasus and Central Asia today.
Her experience has also taught her that even small countries in close proximity to one another can have very different “personalities” – and very different things to teach us.
All of this and more are discussed in the audio file linked above.