Summer program in Russia takes students on a three week adventure

Kathryn Drew

The summer program in Russia, now in its sixth year, will once again introduce Villanova students to Moscow and St. Petersburg starting May 11. The three-week program is designed to introduce students to Russian culture.

The program generally accommodates eight to 15 students and is open to all years and all majors. There is no language requirement for the program, as all courses and excursions are in English. The program divides its time between cultural enrichment at Villanova and in Russia.

After the culmination of the spring semester, participating students will reconvene at Villanova the following Monday to begin the program. For one week, the students will take classes at Villanova in Russian culture, art and history.

Dr. Boris Briker, the faculty adviser of the program, will accompany the students during their time in Russia and teach the classes.

The course serves as an introduction to Russia in general. The week will serve as an intense crash course in Russian studies. Students will have class for about five hours a day and will be visited by many guest speakers who are experts in Russian studies. Most guest speakers will be members of the Villanova community, but Briker promises to bring in some outside speakers as well.

On Saturday of the first week, the students will depart for Russia in the company of Briker. The group will fly into Moscow, where they will stay at the Moscow School of Economics.

Once there, the students will have lectures at the school in the morning, and the afternoons will be devoted to exploring the city.

The courses will cover a range of topics, including history, arts and politics of Russia.

During the students’ time in Russia, there will be excursions to the countryside, as well as forums with Russian students. The forums will allow the students to discuss various topics regarding Russian and American relations.

“The students are very busy because there are lectures and excursions during the day, and there is almost always something in the evening,” Briker said.

At the end of the first week, the group will take an overnight train to St. Petersburg. Here, the students will study at the European University at St. Petersburg and stay in a hotel. Again, there will be lectures in the morning, and the afternoons will involve excursions to different palaces and museums. Among many exciting events, St. Petersburg hosts the Russian Ballet and the circus.

“St. Petersburg is the center of Russian culture,” Briker said.

Along with the cultural events, the students also enjoy the famous “white nights.” During the summer in Russia, it doesn’t get dark until about 1 a.m. The shops and restaurants stay open to accommodate the sunny evenings.

After two weeks in Russia, the group will depart from St. Petersburg and head back to America. The program offers three credits and attempts to serve as a cultural immersion program.

The credits can be applied to humanities, Russian studies or free electives. The program also satisfies a diversity requirement.

The students are required to keep a daily journal and write a term paper upon their return to America.

Former participants of the program often go on to join the Russian studies program or even take up the language. Many of them express interest in going back to Russia on their own.