November 2, 2017

Eight Russian Language program students from the University of Central Florida visited Sochi, Russia for the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students. The festival, a nine-day program covering world politics, economics, and advances in science, sports, and more, is the largest event for international youth cooperation. This year’s event brought together more than 20,000 people aged 18-36 from 188 countries around the world.

Several collaborations helped make the trip possible for the students and faculty that accompanied them. Working with Dr. Barry Morris from Global UCF and the College of Arts and Humanities, Russian Language program the students were able to see the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, give his address to the festival, meet the Minster of Economics for Russia, and hear lectures from Nobel Prize laureates. The Russian-American Community Center of Florida helped pay for expenses on the students’ behalf. Two of the undergraduate students, who are also the president and vice president of UCF’s Russian Club, were able to make the trip thanks to generous donors from UCF Global and the Burnett Honors College.

Besides forums, kiosks, and informational sessions, there were also abundant opportunities to explore the city of Sochi and surrounding areas, like the Black Sea and nearby Caucasus Mountains. “Sochi is a lovely city with beautiful, natural scenery and welcoming people” said Sarah Sweirsz, UCF honors student.

One student, Daniel Bell, was chosen to represent America on a panel of young professionals from across the world who had the opportunity to speak with President Putin about politics and the future of diplomacy. Daniel was able to take part in this trip after completing UCF’s STARTALK program, an intensive Russian language program hosted by UCF in June 2017.

“The biggest takeaway of this opportunity was building community,” said Scarlett Thomas, the president of the Russian Club at UCF and teaching assistant for the STARTALK program. “Bridging the gap between American and Russian culture is an important challenge we must take, and these types of events are ways to come together, grow, and leave as global, united citizens.”

As UCF grows, its presence reaches far beyond Central Florida with opportunities like these for students to venture beyond and advocate for peace and friendship across borders.

Category: Highlight, News, Student

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