I’m Jacob Lassin and I’m a rising senior at The College majoring in Government and Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. This summer I have been fortunate enough to receive Critical Language Scholarship to study in Ufa, Russia.
The Critical Language Scholarship is a program run by the State Department which provides fully funded intensive summer classes for undergraduate and graduate students to learn what the government terms “critical” languages in countries where they are spoken. The program involves language classes, living with a Russian family in a home stay, cultural excursions and peer language tutors. It also requires a language pledge, which means anytime I am with the group in class or on an excursion or when I am at my home stay I must speak Russian. Which will be very challenging and ultimately very rewarding.
So where exactly am I going? Ufa is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, which is one of the federal subjects of Russia. A federal subject is kind of like a state but there are many different types. A republic, like Bashkortostan, is the type with the most independence. Republics in Russia represent a certain non-Russian ethnic group which has territorial ties to the region. In Bashkortostan that ethnic group is the Bashkirs, some of whom along with Russian speak a Turkic language called Bashkir which is also one of the official languages of Bashkortostan.
I am really excited to go to Ufa and not only learn more about Russian and Russian culture, but also about Bashkir culture as well. I will update again once I have gone through orientation and have arrived in Ufa.