Grant allows for student cultural exchange experience

The U.S. Department of State has awarded a $99,000 grant to CSU English faculty members Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker and Tony Becker, in collaboration with colleagues from the National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia, to lead a cultural exchange learning experience that will take place this summer.

Nekrasova-Beker and Becker

Territory Identity of Russia and America, through the Eyes of Young Generations will provide CSU and Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) students with a project-based, cultural learning opportunity, including two week-long workshops in June and August. The projects they create will be hosted as part of an online encyclopedia.

Students submitted proposals about unique, interesting places in Northern Colorado and their significance. From these proposals, they held information sessions and presentations on their locations, which were ranked by CSU faculty members. The presentations were sent to instructors in Tomsk, and they selected the eight CSU participants. The students in Russia followed the same process and CSU faculty chose the eight TPU students.

“There are so many cultural gems out there worth discovering,” Nekrasova-Beker said.

In June, the Russian students will be guided around Northern Colorado. During this time, they are required to submit projects and reports that reflect their experiences.

Tomsk, Russia

“We want them to do something knowing they have a final goal in mind,” Nekrasova-Beker added.

CSU students will then be traveling to Tomsk in August for a similar experience.

The goal of the project is to promote understanding of cultures and cultural values through international teamwork and learning how to collaborate. Nekrasova-Beker also hopes to be able to incorporate more project-based learning techniques into her teaching style, as well as academic curriculum.

“Culture in the classroom is traditionally approached on a very surface level,” Nekrasova-Beker said. “You learn so much more about the true cultural meanings through experience. It’s not something you can just read in a book.”

Nekrasova-Beker and Becker are assistant professors of English in the College of Liberal Arts.