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ASU Russian language students network with American ambassador to Kyrgyzstan


Group photo of ASU students and the American Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Lesslie Viguerie.

Students of ASU's Critical Languages Institute pictured with American Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Lesslie Viguerie. Photo courtesy the School of International Letters and Cultures

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August 09, 2023

The value of Russian language programs cannot be overstated in today's world, where there is a growing national security need for Russian language speakers in U.S. government agencies.

Recently, students of Arizona State University’s Critical Languages Institute (CLI) studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, had a one-of-a-kind experience that allowed them to practice their Russian language skills in a real-world scenario when they were invited to a garden party hosted by the American Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Lesslie Viguerie.

Ahead of the event, students were coached on diplomatic etiquette and proper means of address in Russian that are important for seeking foreign service careers. Then, during the event on July 25, students networked with current foreign service officers and learned about potential career and internship opportunities. They were also able to learn more about the American diplomatic mission in Kyrgyzstan and cultivated ties with the Department of State as well as local institutions and representatives of other student groups.

The dedication and professionalism of ASU’s students and their resident directors have not only helped to establish the foundation for strong relationships with the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, but also helped to grow ties between Americans and the citizens of Kyrgyzstan.

During his formal remarks, Viguerie said to students, “I see you all as diplomats. As diplomats, you are spreading goodwill.”

The CLI, with faculty from the School of International Letters and Cultures, partners with the London School of Languages and Cultures in Bishkek to provide students with not only Russian language instruction, but valuable opportunities to supplement their education, such as homestays with local families, cultural activities and peer tutoring from local university students.

The opportunity to connect with an ambassador on a personal level and learn cultural skills valuable to their future careers is a rare one that is a testament to the remarkable relationships of the School of International Letters and Cultures in the international community. These connections are made possible by such faculty as Saule Moldabekova Robb, an associate teaching professor, and Spencer Abbe, second resident director of the program.

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