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A three-week summer institute for high school students will offer free Russian language instruction and sessions about Russian culture, June 7-26, at East Central University.

StarTalk 2015 In Search of the Firebird: Connecting Generations through Tradition is designed to improve language skills of students who will be in grades 9-12 next fall by immersing them into the Russian language and culture.

Both beginning students and those with an advanced level of understanding the Russian language and culture will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited and applications are currently being accepted.

“We will explore the past and concentrate on the present,” said Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya, professor of English and languages and director of global education at ECU.

Sukholutskaya is also the project director. She will be joined by Elena Farkas, an instructor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and Yekaterina Zamataeva, who is a student in the master’s program at the University of Missouri. All three are native speakers.

They will provide an intensive focus on teaching the Russian language during morning classes. Afternoon sessions will center on various aspects of Russian culture. Three instructor-led trips on weekends will enhance and reinforce the classroom learning and further enforce cross-cultural learning. Students will view Russian art, learn about the Russian Orthodox Church and visit a Russian grocery store and have a meal in its cafe.

Participants will stay in ECU residence halls. Evening activities will enhance classroom learning and will be monitored and supervised by resident counselors who are ECU students minoring in Russian.

The institute will include several follow-up opportunities for the participants through January 2016 to continue the reinforcement of the intensive summer institute.

Students can register online at or by calling the Center of Continuing Education & Community Services at 580-559-5456. Information about the course is available from Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya at 580-559-5293.

Students accepted for the institute who will be seniors and have taken the ACT exam also may qualify to enroll in the 2000-level course “Introduction to the Russian Language and Culture” and receive three hours of college credit by the end of the program in June.

A grant from StarTalk, one of the programs of the National Security Language Initiative announced by former President Bush in January 2006, allows ECU to provide instruction, materials, recreation, food and housing at no cost to the student.

StarTalk’s mission is to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking and teaching strategically important world languages that are not now widely taught in the United States through summer courses such as ECU’s.

ECU also hopes to bring alumni of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program to ECU talk with Startalk students about their experiences living and learning abroad and how they can apply for the program. The NSLI-Y provides full, merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. The programs include the Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Persian, Russian and Turkish languages.



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