Upper School Russian Students Earn Prestigious U.S. Government-Sponsored Scholarships

More than 20% of Upper School Russian Students Earn Prestigious U.S. Government-Sponsored Scholarships for Intensive Summer Immersion Study of Russian 

Eight Upper School students were selected to participate in three exciting fully-funded intensive Russian language and culture immersion programs this summer. Caroline Andrews ‘24, Anthony Smith ‘23, and Joey Supik ’23 will head off to Lewis University in Illinois in June for their STARTALK four-week residential full-immersion Russian language camp.  Sophia Clark ‘24, Sam Gerardi ’24 and Lex Tawes ’23 are recipients of the prestigious National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) summer study scholarship. Sophia and Sam will participate virtually in a six-week program based in Daugavpils, Latvia. Despite unfortunate travel restrictions that keep Sophia and Sam in the U.S., they are excited for significant virtual interaction with Russian-speaking peers living in Latvia.  Lex Tawes was selected for an NSLI-Y scholarship based Almaty, Kazakhstan that will include intensive language study and a homestay with a Russian-speaking family in this Central Asian country. Finally, Noah Pangaribuan ’25 and Maya Williams ’25 have been selected to be our 2022 Friends School Pushkin Scholars. They are headed off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to participate in the Pushkin Summer Institute, an exciting intensive five-week Russian language and culture program on the UW-Madison campus intended to diversify the field by promoting enthusiasm for the study of Russian among exceptional students who are nationally under-represented in the study of Russian.

Russian is one of eight languages identified by the U.S. government as most needed and lacking for U.S. security. Consequently, there is significant funding to support the study of Russian. STARTALK is funded by the National Security Agency. The NSLI-Y program is funded by the U.S. State Department. The Pushkin Summer Institute is funded jointly by the U.S. Russia Foundation (USRF), the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Friends School.

Friends School’s Russian language program dates back to 1956, when history teacher and self-taught Russian speaker Claire Walker– one year before Russia launched Sputnik – began teaching students the then-“forbidden” language. (At the time, the School was one of only 16 U.S. high schools, public or private, to offer Russian.) Since that time, Friends students have consistently distinguished themselves in the U.S. and abroad in the study of Russian language and culture, earning annual awards in state and national contests and frequent selection by the American Councils of Teachers of Russian to represent the United States on the U.S. delegation to the International Olympiada in Moscow. Seven Friends students since 2009 have received full-year scholarships and over fifty have been awarded summer scholarships for intensive study of Russian in the U.S. or abroad.