Without a doubt, the last three semesters were extraordinarily difficult, and one of the most difficult aspects during the pandemic and strict distancing requirements was trying to create and maintain our sense of community, so dear to the Russian program. But we needn’t have worried: Our amazing students went above and beyond in organizing and running events, they attended and participated enthusiastically in everything that was offered, and our community in the Russian program continued to thrive in these challenging times. Russian House residents got together, whether virtually or outdoors, to play games, watch and discuss movies, and do art projects. The student-run newspaper, Газета, moved to an online format and is now more attractive than ever! Please visit to read the current issue. The student-run film series were hugely successful both in the Fall and in the Spring of this pandemic academic year. The Russian Music Ensemble got creative about their performances by recording music videos and giving concerts outdoors.
But, arguably, more than anything else that exemplifies the outstanding community of our Russian program is our annual Russian Language Olympics (RLO) – traditionally, a large in-person gathering of students and faculty on a Saturday in March. In spring 2020 when everything shut down, our Olympics were canceled, and this year we were not sure if our fun, popular “event of the year” could be reproduced in a virtual format. The students, however, voted overwhelmingly to hold the event on Zoom and, as always, on a Saturday. Their participation in the virtual Russian Language Olympics was nothing short of spectacular. Of course, all of the credit and our deepest gratitude goes to the amazing RLO organizing committee – Celia Metzger, Rodrigo Arias, Tem Bullock, Maggie Herndon, Sonia Kelly, Liz Rives, and Gabriel Spira. They prepared and ran Russian language Jeopardy games for each level of study (Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced), they organized games that were focused on Russian culture for students who don’t yet take Russian language courses, and they included such traditional and beloved elements of our annual RLO events as video greetings from recent alums, the musical interludes by the Russian Music Ensemble, and everyone’s favorite: “Professor Trivia”. Thanks to all the organizers and participants the RLO is back to being the highlight of the year for the Russian program, and the 2021 RLO made it abundantly clear that our community is as strong as ever!