Pushkin Summer Institute Receives Grant

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin–Madison has received $90,000 to support a pre-college program designed to introduce high school students from low-income and minority communities to Russian language and culture.

The 2016 STARTALK award to UW–Madison’s Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA) and Department of Slavic Languages and Literature provides support for the Pushkin Summer Institute, which is now entering its fifth year.

The Pushkin Summer Institute (PSI) is an intensive, six-week residential pre-college program that introduces outstanding students from under-represented communities to Russian language and culture through the life and works of poet Alexander Pushkin. PSI seeks to build students’ Russian language abilities, prepare them for college life, and introduce them to opportunities at UW–Madison. Participants take a pledge to speak in Russian as much as possible during their six weeks.

STARTALK is a federally-supported initiative administrated by the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University of Maryland that provides support for the instruction and use of critical-need foreign languages for U.S. students from kindergarten through post-secondary education.

“Thanks to the generous support from STARTALK, we are able to offer a unique program to a special group of high school students, many of whom will be first-generation college students,” says David M. Bethea, Vilas Research Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature and PSI faculty director.

Bethea says that some of the students who participated in PSI went on to enroll at UW–Madison and continue to study Russian at the university level.

The main objectives guiding STARTALK are to increase the numbers of students enrolled in the study of critical-need languages, highly effective critical-language teachers in the U.S., and highly effective materials and curricula available to teachers and students of these critical-need languages.