During the spring 2020 semester, students in Prof. Irina Filippova’s Russian for Public Speaking course worked to put together a historic walking tour of downtown Carlisle—all in Russian. This work offered students the opportunity to improve their oral skills in Russian, to connect with the Russian-speaking community in Carlisle, and also to learn more about the history of their town in the process.
Juniors Clara Giorgis and Trent Morgan had already completed a significant amount of preparation by March 2020, when the COVID19 pandemic hit Pennsylvania. However, moving to remote instruction meant they had to significantly adapt the format of their work. While their initial goal of leading a historic walking tour for local Russian speakers was no longer possible, Clara and Trent worked remotely to prepare a virtual tour using PROGRAMS.
On Friday, May 8, 2020 they hosted their online walking tour over Zoom to an audience of current faculty, students, and guests of the Russian Department, including former artists-in-residence and scholars-in-residence. They explained the significance of historic sites around Carlisle, including the Molly Pitcher Memorial, the courthouse in the downtown square, and the Carlisle Indian School. For Clara Giorgis, “the course really helped with speaking in Russian in a formal capacity, outside of conversation. It was great to be able to learn more formal and professional vocabulary, as well as how to speak about history and lead an engaging tour.” Likewise, Trent Morgan felt that he “learned a lot about the story of Carlisle that [he] otherwise wouldn’t have ever learned. Language wise, it was a great way to learn new vocabulary and consult with professors in Russia.”