Newsletter 2001

Discovering a Passion for Language
Andrew Scmidt '01I graduate in about a month and half. So what am I doing taking Elementary Russian? I finished my language requirement during my first three semesters at Muhlenberg. I have completed my major. It seems as though I have earned enough credits to graduate twice. So what, exactly, am I doing taking Elementary Russian?!

My studies in Russian began by chance. My vocal instructor had assigned Tchaikovsky's At the Ball for me to learn and perform in a recital. Knowing only that Cyrillic was an entirely new alphabet, and somewhat skeptical about my own abilities to learn it, I quickly contacted Dr. Luba Iskold. She graciously agreed to help and tolerated my initial mutilations of Tolstoi's lyrics until I had perfected the song and performed it with grace and at least some style.

Long after the performance, the thrill of learning that small bit of Russian stayed with me. I resolved to register for Russian at the first opportunity and began Elementary Russian I as my fifth class. This semester I am continuing with Elementary Russian II and have never regretted returning to language study. The Russian language has opened the door to Russian politics and culture; I am also enrolled in Russian Government and Politics this semester. Studying Russian has also renewed my interest in Spanish, my first foreign language.

While the much touted phrase "It's never too late to..." seems like a terrible cliche to me, it is entirely appropriate in this case --it is never too late to continue work in a second language, or begin a third. And the beauty of studying at a liberal arts college is just that- the opportunity to vigorously pursue your interests exactly when you recognize them, whether that takes place during your freshman or senior year. While fluency in either Russian or Spanish will not come over the next 50 days, I have gained a solid foundation to continue in both languages after Muhlenberg. Most importantly, I have found the passion to continue.

Andrew Schmidt, '01