Introduction to Arik Burakovsky

My name is Arik Burakovsy, and I recently completed my undergraduate studies at UCSD, majoring in Political Science/International Relations and minoring in Film Studies. I aim to pursue a career in American diplomacy, national security, and international law. I am spending this summer with my family in New Mexico, relaxing outdoors and preparing to apply to graduate programs. This fall will mark the beginning of my Fulbright grant in Russia as an English Teaching Assistant.

Besides spending the first four years of my life in Israel, I have almost no experience living abroad. I knew that if I wanted to continue learning about foreign affairs, I had to find a way to spend my gap year outside the United States. My family’s roots in the Soviet Union, my fluency of the Russian language, and my interest in Russian traditions and politics made Russia an ideal choice. It has been nearly a year since I began preparing my application materials for the Fulbright program. The Fulbright application process was unbearably lengthy, including an online application, an in-person interview at UCSD, an interview via Skype with the Russian Fulbright office, and numerous months of waiting for a response.  [Note from FPA: While he says it was unbearable, he seems to have borne it well. 🙂 ] Nonetheless, I am now looking forward to my nine-month stay at the Omsk State Pedagogical University in Omsk, Russia.

By teaching conversational English to Russian college students, I hope to foster my interests in oral communication and education. As the world becomes more globalized, learning to speak English is becoming increasingly useful for young professionals engaging with foreign people and ideas. By keeping an open mind, I hope to learn from the university students I mentor about their aspirations, worldviews, and personal experiences in Russian society. I also hope to instill in them an appreciation for public speaking by engaging them in discussions of American civics and government.

In addition, my Fulbright award will include a research project about the impact of youth groups on Russian political development. I plan to produce a short documentary movie about my encounters with youth involved in Russian civil society. I will read about the activities of Russian youth groups, interview young political organizers, and witness community discussions. I plan to eventually screen this film – with subtitles and my own narration – to small audiences in the United States and Russia in order to encourage a cross-cultural exchange.