By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Just hours after Keary Iarussi found out he hadn’t made the final cut for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellows Program, he discovered that, by way of another program, he’d be spending 59 days this summer in Kazan, Russia, fully immersed in the country’s language and culture.
“That day was somewhat of an emotional roller coaster,” said the 21-year-old Iarussi, who graduated from Miami University in Ohio in May with degrees in diplomacy and global politics, and Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies. He is a 2011 graduate of Struthers High School.
Since early June, Iarussi has been in Kazan as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program. He explained that the program puts students in an optimal environment in which to improve not only their language abilities, but also their intercultural communication skills.
According to the CLS Program’s website, the program covers approximately one academic year of university-level language coursework, and is made up of both formal classroom language instruction and extracurricular activities. In 2013, approximately 600 scholarships were awarded for 13 languages — among them, Arabic, Hindi and Turkish.
As for Iarussi, who is one of 16 CSL Program students in Kazan this summer, he lives with a host family who speaks only Russian and attends classes, about two or three a day, taught only in Russian. He also regularly meets one-on-one with native speakers and takes various cultural excursions.
Such immersion, Iarussi said, “is the only way one can master a foreign language, especially one as challenging as Russian.”
Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com.