You are hereSummer 2011 in Eurasia: Program Summary

Summer 2011 in Eurasia: Program Summary

Summer 2011 ERLP ParticipantsAmerican Councils completed yet another successful summer in Eurasia this year. A total of 19 undergraduate and graduate students from across the U.S. spent 8 weeks on the Eurasian Regional Language Program in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Nine students received funding from the U.S. Department State (Title VIII program) and two received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Education (Fulbright-Hays program). In recent years, Tajikistan has become our largest Eurasian site. This summer, four different programs ran simultaneously in Dushanbe with a total of 33 students.

The program started in June with a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C., where participants learn what to expect while abroad. The orientation addressed such topics as health and safety, Eurasian academic culture, host-family life, culture shock and strategies to maximize language gain. Student also had a chance to meet and get to know fellow participants. At the end of the sessions, one of the participants wrote: “Orientation meetings exceeded my expectations and touched on subjects that I have not yet thought of.”

Upon arrival in their host countries, students also participated in a day-long in-country orientation. American Councils local staff provided specific information on obtaining a cell phone, Internet options, ATMs, medical facilities, post offices and major landmarks.

Classes began on June 13 and continued until August 5, 2011. The academic program consisted of 18 to 20 hours of intensive language instruction with native faculty from leading local universities. Robert, who studied Buryat in Ulan-Ude, exclaimed “this is one of the most amazing academic experiences I have ever had and I’d love to repeat it.” Dena, who spent the summer in Almaty, wrote: “Classes were intense as I got through material that usually takes a year. But I made a lot of progress in conversation, listening comprehension, reading and writing.”

In addition to the regular classes, participants had the opportunity to meet with peer tutors twice a week for informal conversational practice. Students usually enjoy meeting their host-country peers and often develop long-lasting friendships. This year was not an exception as Grace commented from Tajikistan: “[it was] always good practice speaking to a young person and of course also becoming friends.”

ERLP - Summer 2011While abroad, all participants lived with a host family to provide more contact with native speakers. Most of the students found living with a host family to be a valuable experience and a large factor in improving their language abilities, saying “I would not have made nearly the same progress otherwise.” Other student joined in their positive remarks: “They were awesome, love them.” “[My] family was great fun – very relaxed, very understanding, very kind.”

American Councils also organized cultural activities and educational trips to local historical and cultural sites. Resident directors and office staff provided much needed logistical support throughout the program and were available 24/7 in case of emergency.

Leaving behind one more great summer, we are looking forward to the new 2011-12 academic year, while we continue to provide unique language opportunities and enriching experience in an overseas immersion setting.