Matthew Thorp '15 CLAS
Studying Russian has been unlike studying any other language or subject that I could have ever experienced. I’m not talking about the struggle to pronounce my щ’s or ш’s correctly, but rather I’m referring to the community that builds itself around studying the language. This community exists mainly because the people that choose to study Russian do so consciously; they make a conscious effort to pursue something other than the more commonly studied languages like French or Spanish, taking a step from their peers toward an unknown and mysterious culture…
The first Russian community I experienced was in high school. We had our “Russian Mother,” Mama Steimel, who was instrumental in igniting my interest and pursuit of Russian. There, we dedicated ourselves as students and friends to unraveling and understanding the Orange Revolution and Putin’s wide spread success. Mrs. Steimel was the main contributor in why I chose to study abroad for an academic year in Kazan, Russia. I was sad to leave that community in high school because I thought nothing would ever compare. I spend a year abroad in Russia, where I experienced that same feeling of a community of friends. Coming home from Russia, I again thought, “How can this continue?”
Fortunately, I wound up at Villanova. I emailed the Russian professor at Villanova asking if he would be willing to meet with me to speak Russian. From there, I became close friends with one of the most genuine and kind-hearted professor and mentor that I know, Boris Briker. My path in Russian throughout college has been heavily influenced by Boris—so much so that I can never repay him. The community here at Villanova within the RASCON Department has been so welcoming and is truly inspiring to me. I am grateful for the memories that I will take with me through studying Russian with Boris, and I look forward to small Russian communities I will be a part of and build in the future.