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Director, Students of Brandeis Russian Language Program Win Awards

April 22nd, 2012

Melissa-Leigh Gore

Six students from the Brandeis Russian Language program are winners this year’s American Council of Teachers of Russian’s essay contest. Held annually, the timed, hour-long contest requires students to write an essay on a given topic in Russian. This year’s topic was “What is a friend?” Once written, essays are judged by native speaking teachers in Russia. The students were grouped into levels and categories based on whether they spoke Russian natively (heritage) or not (non-heritage) and then organized into tiers based on the number of years of Russian instruction. The number of winners is especially notable as the contest had over 1,000 entries from 48 universities, and Brandeis students took five of the top twelve honors, plus one honorable mention. First place winners were John Nunes (Non-heritage, level 1), Matt Kupfer (non-heritage, level 3), and Maya Tydykov (heritage, level 1). Anastasia Austin (heritage, level 1) took second place, and Joseph Babeu (non-heritage, level 1) took third. Finally, Mark Borreliz (non-heritage, level 1) earned an honorable mention.

Excellence has been a theme for the Russian department as of late. Irina Dubinina, director of the Russian Language Program at Brandeis since 2007, was honored this week by the university with the 26th annual Louis Dembitz Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Dubinina teaches courses in beginning and intermediate Russian, as well as independent studies to accomodate all levels of speakers, and one recent course entitled “Advanced Russian Language Through Literature, Through Film, and Through Contemporary Culture.” One student who nominated her wrote, “Professor Dubinina has single-handedly taught me how to read and write in Russian. In one semester, I went from not knowing the alphabet to being able to recite 19th-century poetry and to write my grandparents a letter.” More information about this honor is available here.

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