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A Hidden Gem at Holy Cross

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Published: Friday, February 25, 2011

Updated: Thursday, February 24, 2011 15:02

I'd like to take a step back for a week, away from my opinions on certain issues, to advocate for a program at Holy Cross that I believe gets too little attention. This program is the Russian program at Holy Cross.

   The true beauty of the Russian program struck me on Friday night, as I and several other members of the Russian program, including my practicum professor, Tatiana, were in the stands as our hockey team took on Sacred Heart. We weren't there simply for the game, but to cheer on one of our own, Sergei, otherwise known as Jeff. It was at that moment that I decided that the Holy Cross Russian program was not just a program, but an experience.

   I, as a mere transfer student, was trembling during my summer, having found out that I had to take a foreign language at the college level, let alone at a prestigious institution like Holy Cross. My first thought was to take something practical, and Russian definitely fit the bill. I was terrified, as I had heard that Russian was some "insanely difficult, harsh language." I am now in my second semester of it, and enjoying every minute of it.  

   I've encountered three professors in the Russian program, Tatiana of course, Professor Amy Adams, and Professor Olga Partan. The true beauty of the program is that the faculty makes it their priority that you understand the language. Granted, Russian is tougher than say, German or Spanish, but easier than Arabic, Latin, Greek, or Chinese. Still, the professors devote endless amounts of time to ensure that you are comfortable in your understanding of the language.

   However, that is not everything. At the same time, it is a massive cultural experience. Here, at Holy Cross, you learn Russian, while at the same time being exposed to the rich cultural tradition of Russia, whether it be through Professor Partan's humorous explanations of the many puns inherent in the Russian language or Professor Adams' Soviet Literature course that is ripe with information. Not only that, but Tatiana has been the genius behind such programs as "Russian Idol" or "Russian Oscar," unique spins on popular American programs and events.

   The Russian Program's faculty makes learning a language fun. It is not just sitting in a room, being lectured, learning about different vocabulary and verb conjugations.  It is being immersed in several clever activities designed to increase your understanding. My Facebook friends definitely can attest to the fact that a large amount of my posts are dealing with Russia in some way shape or form. Some popular Russian songs have even found their way onto my iPod. Working out to several variations of "Katyusha" is very relaxing for me.

   I know that the Russian Club is always looking for new members. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the program is the closeness of the Russian students; I personally feel a greater connection and identity with them than I do with some other classes, honestly. I believe that was clearly evident at Friday's hockey game. Yes, if you saw giants signs with odd looking words and colorful flags, yes, that was the Russian section. It is a hidden gem at Holy Cross, and if you are looking to meet great people, take a language, pursue and interest, or all three, I would highly recommend looking into Holy Cross' Russian Program.


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