Slavic and Eurasian Studies

CREEES Students Take Initiative to Develop Professional Skills

Mon, June 5, 2017
CREEES Students Take Initiative to Develop Professional Skills

CREEES students are engaging in various professional activities —
from NATO internships to presenting their original research at academic conferences.

 

Read about their experiences in their own words below.

 

Nicholas Teale

Nicholas Teale , MA candidate in Middle East Studies and CREEES FLAS recipient for Turkish for Summer 2016, will be in Azerbaijan next year, funded by the US National Security Education Program Boren Scholarship.

I'll be going to Azerbaijan in the next academic year so that I can write my thesis on Turkish-Russian relations and improve my skills in both Turkish and Russian. Historically, Azerbaijan has been a key site of tensions between Turkey and Russia, particularly with regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and to the ongoing construction of pipeline projects such as BTC that could undermine Russia's dominant position in the European energy market. I'm hopeful that my studies in Azerbaijan will shed light on these and other crucial geopolitical issues!


Denitsa Nikolova

Denitsa Nikolova, undergraduate in International Relations and Global Studies, will be interning with the U.S. Mission to NATO as their Public Relations intern.

This summer I will be interning with the U.S. Mission to NATO as their Public Relations intern. I will be working at the brand new NATO compound in Brussels, Belgium. There, my main duties will include updating the US Ambassador and staff on the most current news updates as well as facilitating any events between US leaders and foreign leaders. As the only undergrad intern I feel blessed to have the privilege to dive in the world of international affairs.


Rebekah Switala

Rebekah Switala, CREEES MA candidate, is working towards a portfolio specialization in Women and Gender Studies. In the Spring semester of 2017, Rebekah studied in Warsaw, Poland, while on a FLAS Fellowship from the Center for European Studies at UT. While abroad, she interned with a political journal and has had several articles published.

I have been doing an internship at a journal called Political Critique since February 20th, which comes to a close at the end of this month. I have written a few articles, and have edited and published hundreds. It's been an ideal place to work as an intellectual studying culture and history. I've gotten to interview many important people in Poland as well through this internship, in addition to being connected with intellectuals in other areas of Central and Eastern Europe. For example, I interviewed Piotr Ikonowicz for an article during my internship. The interview is now posted as a video on Political Critique's English website, and translated into Polish onto their Polish site, as well. Pan Ikonowicz has been helping homeless people keep and get homes after nasty evictions started occurring when communism fell. He has a great reputation here and is well respected. He also helps people get and pay for job training, find jobs, get medical care, helps with legal troubles, and even with credits and debts.

Read more about Rebekah's semester in Poland here.


Vasilina Orlova

Vasilina Orlova, PhD candidate in Anthropology, traveled to Siberia in 2016 to conduct research on post-Soviet spaces.

In 2016, I received the Professional Development Award and the McWilliams Scholarship from CREEES, which allowed me to cover most urgent expenses of my travel to Siberia during the summer of 2016. My research is on ruins in the post-Soviet spaces, including such facets of ruins as dilapidated infrastructure, remnants of buildings, and material objects and how the agglomerations of such settings shape social practices. My research investigates post-Soviet ruins, nostalgia and melancholy in a Siberian places, rural and urban.

Infrastructure which had been rapidly developing in the Soviet times, and it appeared in unexpected spaces: railroads in the near-polar zones (Salekhard-Igarka railroad), Comsomol-built cities in the taiga and tundra, highways and mainlines cutting forests; river-altering dams in the severest climates; projects to redirect Siberian rivers 180 degrees in their beds in order to irrigate Central Asian steppe. As soon as a different ideological choice was made, economic realities of privatization and political events of the collapse of USSR erupted, countless construction projects were abandoned and numerous towns became ruins of the utopia-which-was-never-to-be.

My hypothesis is that people in Siberian rural spaces live in the affective “absence” of ruins: for them, ruins are not ruins, but a normal environment, surroundings where they live, develop, grow, raise children, and die.

My travel allowed me to better understand the different types of socialities which emerge in connection to ruins. I conducted a preliminary ethnographic research for my dissertation project.

The abandoned “House of Pioneers” in the town of Bratsk, summer 2016: new socialities for young people.

Simon Miles

Simon Miles (PhD candidate in History) presented his paper, “The Foreign Policy of Internal Politics: The Reagan Administration and Human Rights in the Soviet Union,” at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, held this year in Denver, CO.  Simon was since offered (and accepted) a faculty position as an assistant professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. He defended his dissertation in late April.

I presented a paper entitled, “The Foreign Policy of Internal Politics: The Reagan Administration and Human Rights in the Soviet Union,” at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, held this year in Denver, CO. CREEES funding helped to defray the costs of participation.  I was the organizer of the panel, “From Grassroots Activism to Power Politics: Human Rights Ideas and Twentieth-Century International Relations,” which was sponsored by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.


Kathleen Marie Conti

Kathleen Marie Conti (MS in Historic Preservation in the School of Architecture) attended the ASEEES conference in Washington, D.C. last November, where she organized and presented at a roundtable of experts on historic preservation called, "The Presence of the Past: Preservation as Practiced and Contested in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia.”  Kathleen is starting the doctoral program in Architecture at UT this fall and also received the Rudy J. Favretti Fellowship to document historic landscapes in Virginia this summer.

Thanks to CREEES professional development funds, Kathleen was able to attend the ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) conference in Washington, DC, last November, where she organized and presented at a roundtable of experts on historic preservation. "The Presence of the Past: Preservation as Practiced and Contested in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia” panel drew a large crowd from multiple disciplines and sparked a lively debate about preservation and the environment, as well as the role of the scholar in raising awareness to architectural heritage and conservation issues.

She also presented her paper, “History in Stones: Historic Preservation and the Construction of the Soviet Built Environment,” and received invaluable feedback on her research from the panel discussant, fellow panelists, as well as audience members. Kathleen says attending ASEEES allowed her to meet with fellow scholars from across the globe, including her past and present ASEEES mentors, and she is in the final stages of finishing her article in preparation for publication. Kathleen also connected with a book editor, who has since issued her a contract for a book chapter in an edited volume on Tolstoy.


 Brian Selman

Brian Selman, MA in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (2017), presented for the second time at the University of Pittsburgh's GOSECA Conference.

(In Spring 2017) Financed by my Professional Development Award, I was able to present for the second time at the University of Pittsburgh's GOSECA Conference. As I was just beginning my thesis research last year, I had not yet developed my topic enough to present at the graduate conference. Instead, I presented part of my undergraduate thesis. This year was a redemption story in which I was positively and enthusiastically received by the Director of Pitt's CREEES, Dr. Nancy Condee, and those in attendance. I felt validated. Thank you to the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies for this opportunity!


 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Bookmark and Share