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Riley Ries–Critical Language Scholarship

Name: Riley Ries

Class Year: 2019

Hometown: Vinton, IA

Major(s): Politics, Russian Area Studies

Opportunity and Year: Critical Language Scholarship Program, Summer 2018

Project Summary: CLS is a two-month, intensive language-learning program sponsored through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Students spend 20 hours per week in class plus additional cultural excursions (museums, theater, hiking, etc.). Each student also takes on an individual research project, culminating in a paper and presentation. I researched cattle, beef, and dairy production in Kyrgyzstan and the role it plays in the heavily agriculture-based Kyrgyz economy. Students live with host families.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? The challenging coursework and high academic standards expected by professors at W&L, specifically in the Russian Area Studies Program, prepared me well for the CLS Program.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? I sought this scholarship in order to improve my Russian-language skills and cultural and political understanding of the post-Soviet space.

Post-graduation Plans: Following graduation, I plan to work for the U.S. government in the field of defense/foreign relations, specializing in the former Soviet Union.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? My experiences and studies this summer significantly improved my Russian-language skills and understanding of post-Soviet politics, economics, social problems. and so on. This knowledge will be incredibly important to me in my capacity as a foreign affairs/defense specialist.

Extracurricular Involvement:

I host a radio show with 91.5 WLUR.

 

Off-campus Experience:

CIEE St. Petersburg Russian Language Program (Academic year)
CLS (Russian) in Bishkek

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