The on-line newsletter of Grinnell College's Russian Department

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Join faculty and alumni from all the language departments at the first Languages for Life Reunion, Friday and Saturday, November 1-2 (the weekend after fall break) for a a weekend of connection, networking and educational programming.

Some highlights from the scheduled events:

What I Did With My Language Degree Alumni Roundtable

Friday, 4:15-5:30 Explore the career paths of Grinnell College language major graduates with a roundtable discussion representing a variety of ages and professions!

Languages for Life Reunion Dinner

Friday, 5:30-7 Join alumni, current students, faculty and staff for a casual dinner in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center Marketplace. 

Foreign Films Festival

Friday, 7-9 Come ready to experience foreign films at their best!  A series of short films will highlight the many languages offered at Grinnell College. ARH 302

Faculty Breakfast

Saturday, 9-10 Start the day with breakfast with your favorite language faculty.  Breakfast divided by language department all located in the Rosenfield Center

Faculty Keynote Lecture: Language Departments History and Future

Saturday, 10-11 Professor Todd Armstrong, professor and chair of the Russian department will offer a lecture covering highlights of the history of the Grinnell language departments and the future prospects.
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

How My Off Campus Study Experience Changed My Life Student Reception

Saturday, 11-12 Mingle with current students who have recently returned from off-campus study experiences and hear how these international experiences enriched their lives. Rosenfield Center, 2nd floor Lobby

Languages for Life Reunion Lunch

Saturday, 12-1:30  Gather for a buffet-style lunch and a fun alumni-student career connections activity!
Location TBA

Alumni Keynote Speakers

Saturday, 2-3:30 Session 1: Christiane Leitinger ’86  Session 2:  Hanna Griff-Sleven ‘81 ARH 302

Languages for Life Reunion Reception

Saturday, 5:15-6:15 Join students and faculty for a special cocktail reception. Rosenfield Center, 2nd floor lobby

Languages for Life Reunion Dinner

Saturday, 6:30-8 End the weekend right with a banquet-style, served dinner with President Raynard S. Kington. Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Progressive Party at Language Houses

Saturday, 8:30-? Travel from language house to language house to explore the Grinnell tradition of living in community, along with sampling refreshments from various cultures and traditions.

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October Events!


Russian Language Assistant Yakov Lure  (Yasha) will be hosting a weekly screening of Russian films. Yasha writes:

While there are a few well-known Soviet filmmakers, 99% of what was and what is happening in the Soviet and Russian film industry is shrouded in mystery. That’s why we will hold weekly screenings of Russian and Soviet films at Grinnell College. Shifting from older Soviet flicks to very recent pictures produced by young Russian artists, this Fall session will mostly be focused around the subjects of youth culture, everyday life, and individual stories represented variously through cinema. Films will be shown every Thursday at 7 p.m. in ARH 305 (the Star Trek Room). All of them will be played with English subtitles. 

The Sessions will open with “ROADS TO KOKTEBEL” (2003) an outstanding Russian road movie by two young directors Boris Khlebnikov and Alexei Popogrebski. The film tells the story of father and son traveling to the South and encountering weird characters and places on their way. The screening will be held this Thursday, October 3rd, at 7 p.m., in ARH 305. (Students interested in both the film and the OCS informational study session–see below–should plan to attend the 4:15 session of the latter!)

Off-campus Information Session

Lisa Horner, Program Consultant for theSchool for Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS). She will be sharing information about the many semester and summer programs SRAS sponsors in several cities in Russia and the former Soviet States (e.g., Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Georgia), and we invite all students of Russian and anyone interested to attend one of two sessions, on this Thursday, October 3rd, at 4:15 and 7:00 in ARH 317. We have had several students use SRAS, including Anthony Wenndt ’15, who will be studying in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan this coming spring on an SRAS program.
Students interested in summer programs are eligible for departmental funding through the Anne K. Hansen ’86 Award.

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Fall Semester News

Russian Tea Party

IMG_4662The first weeks of the semester started out with some well-attended Russian events. On Tuesday, September 3, students gathered in Russian House for the first Russian Tea Party (Русское чаетпитие) of the 2013-14 year. Anastasia Ovtcharova ’14, Russian House Coordinator, and Yasha Lurie, Russian Language Assistant, made a huge batch of блины, which were enjoyed by all. Russian House will host this event, now a time-honored tradition, on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm. All students are welcome to comeIMG_4663 eat Russian food and get their Russian on (no pressure, though–first-years are welcome to come!). Давайте!

Русский пикник

IMG_4705The Russian Department also hosted its annual Русский пикник (Russian Picnic) on Thursday, September 12th, at the home of Professor Todd Armstrong. Students and faculty enjoyed a feast of Russian food, including savory pies (пироги с капустой и с мясом), Russian olivie salad (салат оливье), bliny (блины) from Russian House, lots of vegetables (овощи) from local gardens, kvass (квас), and Russian candies (русские конфеты) from European Flavors, a store that carries lots of Russian foods. We also celebrated Yasha’s IMG_4713birthday, which was the day before (While it’s not entirely clear, that meat pie has ЯША spelled out on it).

С днём рождения, Яша! For more pictures of the event, please go to the Grinnell College Russian Department’s Facebook page!

Student and Alumni News

We want to welcome Stephanie Porter ’14 back to campus after her semester at the Bard College program at the Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg. Stephanie is the second student to study at Russia’s first liberal arts college, which is also the alma mater of our Russian Language Assistant, Yasha Lurie. Stephanie shared her impressions about the program during a Russian Table devoted to off-campus study.

Sarah Weitekamp ’15 is currently spending her off-campus study semester on the Middlebury College School Abroad in Irkutsk, Russia. Sarah is the latest Grinnellian to study in this Siberian capital; Arthur Richardson ’14 studied there last spring, Kristen Moreland ’12 spent a semester there in the spring of 2011. Kristen returned to Siberia last year, on a Fulbright Assistantship to Tomsk, Russia. Kristen kindly joined us at Russian Table early in the semester to share her thoughts about off-campus study, on her way to a new opportunity at the Russian-American Foundation, where Alana Vogel ’12 is also currently working. Alana studied in St. Petersburg on the ACTR program.  Elizabeth Kruger ’06 studied in Irkutsk during her Grinnell studies; readers of Novosti will recall that she subsequently became the Resident Director of the Middlebury Program. We are pleased to report that Elizabeth is currently the Arctic and Bering Sea Program Officer for the World Wildlife Foundation, and is based in Anchorage, Alaska.

Addie Anderson ’13 recently entered the Ph. D. program in Slavic studies at Indiana University, and Kelly Iacobazzi ’12 began studies at Harvard University. Jacob Goldsmith ’13 is currently in the graduate program at the University of Missouri, and recently had a paper accepted at the upcoming Central Slavic Conference in St. Louis. He will present “Dziga Vertov’s Last Roar: The Man with the Movie Camera and Soviet Politics in the 1920s.” Удачи!

1266107_10201163806151574_7536167_o-1Two Grinnellians are currently in the graduate program at the European University in St. Petersburg (EUSP ). Alex McConnell ’12 studied on a John Mohan Russian Study award in St. Petersburg in Fall 2012, and, as often happens, couldn’t wait to get back. Daniel (“Dima”) Wolfe ’99 returns to the northern capital of Russia after a slightly longer hiatus. He moved to Russia with his family, and the department has followed his return to Russia with great interest. We wish them both the best of luck as they begin this new stage of their careers in Russian!

Sydney Devine ’13 recently arrived in Krasnodar, Russia, and will be studying there for the academic year on a program at Kuban State Unversity (one of our favorite acronyms: КУБГУ). We send our best wishes to Sydney as she begins what is sure to be an adventure in the south of Russia. Желаем больших успехов и интересных (в хорошем смысле) приключений!

Please send us updates on what you are doing! Our apologies if we have omitted anyone! –the editors of Novosti

Languages For Life

Mark your calendars for the weekend of November 1-3 for an alumni affinity reunion co-sponsored by the language departments and Alumni Relations. Grinnellians who majored in one of the languages will come to Grinnell that weekend for the “Languages for Life” reunion. Watch Novosti for more information on this exciting opportunity for current students to meet and network with Grinnell alumni who share their passion for the study of languages and cultures.

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Russian Language Assistant News

ElviraСпасибо Эльвира!

Novosti would like to thank Elvira Fattakhova for her wonderful contributions to our program last year. Elvira was instrumental in bringing authenticity of language to our first- and second-year language classes, as well as Russian Conversation–and our students benefited greatly from her classroom work. She also contributed to the Russian House activities, leading along with Russian House Coordinator Christopher Squier ’13 weekly Tea Parties and other events. As have our past Russian Language Assistants, she became an expert in making блины, and in general creating a Russian atmosphere, culinary and otherwise, in our community. And she was also active beyond the department, co-hosting with other language assistants a weekly radio show on KDIC, and participating in  Chinese-language activities (Elvira is fluent in Mandarin, readers of Novosti may recall), and many of ISO’s traditional events.

Elvira returned to her native Kazan, and most recently worked at the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, July 6-17 2013. (If you are friends with Elvira on Facebook, you will have seen a lot of amazing photos from the competition. Congratulations, Elvira–and come back and visit us soon!

yasha2Добро пожаловать, Яша!

Meanwhile, we’d like to welcome our new Russian Language Assistant, Yakov Lurie, of Saint Petersburg, who will join the department this August. As is our tradition, we’ve asked Yakov (Yasha) to share a few words of introduction (in Russian and in English):

Привет, Гриннель!

Меня зовут Яша, я только что закончил Смольный колледж в Санкт-Петербурге. Этой осенью я приеду в Айову и буду вашим новым тьютором русского языка. Думаю, что мы поближе познакомимся при встрече (которой я жду с нетерпением), а пока что могу сказать, что мой ноутбук уже заполняется любопытными советскими и российскими фильмами и музыкой, а моя бабушка дает мне все новые советы по приготовлению настоящего борща. Пожалуйста, пишите мне по поводу всего, что придет вам в голову – может быть, у кого-нибудь возникнут вопросы или кто-то захочет попросить привезти томик Достоевского из ближайшего комиссионного магазина или что-нибудь еще (это, действительно, будет несложно).

Всего хорошего, до встречи в августе!


Hello Grinnell College!

My name is Yakov Lurie (people usually just call me Yasha) and I am about to work here as a Russian language tutor since the coming fall. Though I guess there’s not too much to say until we meet (which I feel really inspired about), I may tell you that my hard drive is already getting filled with some unexpected Soviet and contemporary Russian films and music (film studies was my major at Smolny College in St.-Petersburg that I just graduated from), while my grandmother fills me with more and more various advices on how to make a proper Borscht. Please feel free to write me with whatever comes to your head, whether you have some questions, want me to bring you an old Dostoevsky book from the nearest flea market (which is easy) or find a specific piece of Russian or Soviet music/film/literature that is for some reason harder to get in Iowa.

Take care and see you in August!




Novosti encourages Grinnellians to friend Yasha on Facebook!

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Congratulations to the Class of 2013!


A somewhat belated congratulations to the Russian majors and RCEES Concentrators in the class of 2013! We wish all the best to Russian Majors Addie Anderson ‘12.5, Sydney Devine-Rausch ’13, Jacob Goldsmith ’13, Sahar Nahib ’13, and Christopher Squier ’13, and RCEES Concentrators Doug Dobrzynski ’13 and Adam Lauretig ’13. We wish them all the best as they embark on new adventures and journeys beyond Grinnell. Поздравляем с окончанием и желаем больших успехов!


The John Mohan Russian Study Award

Sydney Devine-Rausch ’13 and Sharon Tan ’14 are the recipients of the 2012-13 John Mohan Russian Studies Award . The purpose of the John Mohan Russian Study Award is to provide students who have seriously pursued the study of Russian with an opportunity to develop their language skills in the Russian-speaking world. The Award is intended to enable Grinnell College students to pursue a intense language study during the summer after second year, or a language study or a project of their own design after graduation. The Award is drawn from funds raised by three devoted friends of the Russian Department: Diane Fisher Perkinson ’82, Sharon McKee ’82 and Emily Silliman ’81. Sydney will be studying at Kuban State University in Krasnodar, Russia. Sharon will travel to St. Petersburg to study Russian this summer on an SRAS program. Счастливого пути!

Anne Hanson ’86 Summer Study Award

This endowed scholarship was established in 1989 in memory of Anne K. Hanson ‘86 by her friends and family. Anne Hanson was a Russian Studies major who went on the Grinnell College Interim Tour of the USSR during her senior year. The Anne Hanson Award recipients this year is Vinita Singh ’14. She will travel to St. Petersburg to study at the Smolny Institute under the Bard Smolny Study Abroad Program. Удачи!

For more information, please see the departmental page for the Anne Hanson ’86 Summer Study Award.

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Are you interested in the kinds of advanced research that students do in the Russian, Central, and Eastern European Concentration? Please join us this Friday, May 10, 12:00pm-1:00pm, in JRC 209, for a presentation of four Mentored Advanced Projects:

Wild West and Model Socialist City: Wrocław and Warszawa in Post-World War II Poland,

1945-1956 ~ Doug Dobrzynski ‘13

State and Regime in post-Soviet Central Asia: Economic Decisions and Regime

Classification ~ Adam Lauretig ‘13

Czech Young Adult Literature: the Roma Problem ~ Furugh Nahib ‘13,

 The Devil in Moscow: Illustrations in The Master and Margarita ~ Christopher Squier ‘13


Sponsored by the RCEES Concentration and the Department of Russian

A light lunch will be provided!

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Annual Slavic Coffeehouse ~ Zolotoj Plyos Concert! April 13-14

Zolotoj PlyosWe are pleased to announce an evening of Russian food and music, featuring our annual Slavic Coffeehouse, with a wide variety of delicious Slavic foods prepared by Russian Department faculty and students available for a nominal cost, and a special concert of Russian folk music performed by the renowned Russian folk music group Zolotoi Plyos (Alexander Solovov, Elena Sadina, and Sergei Gratchev). The group’s repertoire includes songs from many different regions of Russia, and the trio performs in authentic folk costumes and plays numerous traditional Russian instruments, including the treshchetka, balalaika, garmoshka and lozhki. Founded in 1994, the group has performed in Russia, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal and the US.

Saturday, April 13th

Slavic Coffeehouse, Bucksbaum Rotunda, 5:30-6:30 pm

Concert, Sebring-Lewis Hall, 7:00 pm

Sunday, April 14th

Workshop, JRC 101, 11:00 am


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