Many Russian immigrants living in San Diego find that their children are losing the ability to speak Russian fluently, along with their history and culture, and it is very difficult for them to communicate with their parents on complex topics. “If parents don’t intentionally teach their child to speak Russian, they grow up treating the language as foreign. They find it hard to relay their thoughts and even harder to relay their feelings. The parents are then forced to either start speaking English themselves or enforce ‘only Russian’ rules at the house which alienates the child,” says Marianna Gorelova, the principal of SDRS.
Elena Yulaeva and Marianna Gorelova decided to create a school to help children from Russian immigrant families maintain their language and culture. Elena Yulaeva provided space for the classes and contacted parents and teachers. In 1998 they created a “club” with a few Russian scientists from UC San Diego and their children. Every Sunday the parents brought their children together and taught classes in Russian on topics such as Russian history, literature and linguistics.
We soon found there was a large demand for this type of education in San Diego. However, many children weren’t able to participate in class and do their homework because they struggled with simple reading and writing in Russian. So, we hired professional language teachers to teach the comprehension skills necessary to take subject classes. We also invited specialists from many career fields to talk about what they do (among other professions, the school has had visits from cinematographers, nuclear physicists, and actors) and organized field trips.
Once we made the school more accessible for students by teaching basic skills and introduced more subjects our program exploded with popularity. We soon had to separate the younger and older children and split classes in two, then three and finally four age groups. Currently, we teach classes for all ages; from five and six year-olds to late adolescents close to finishing high school.
Today, the school is bigger than ever. Next year, we are looking forward to the new “Russian as a Foreign Language” course. This class, created for people with zero proficiency, is taught by a foreign language teacher with more than six years of experience. We also hope to launch other classes for beginner speakers including Computer Programming, Art History and Business Management.
History and Course Offerings
Since 1998, the San Diego Russian School has welcomed kids from all over San Diego County for Sunday classes. Thanks to the continuing support of the UCSD Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES) Program the School has been able to offer a variety of classes for children with different levels of fluency in Russian. Our students participated and won awards in several nationwide contests. During the school year, students had an opportunity to meet with the UCSD REEES students and faculty who came to school and talked about their research and studies. We are very happy about the growth of SDRS in the past year and look forward to another productive year. This year the school will offer the following classes:
For freshmen and sophomores: Russian Language, Russian Literature, Russian History and Russian Language Development. There will also be classes of Natural History, Art History and Russian Cinematography & Animations.
For juniors and seniors: Russian Language and Professional Translating, Russian History, Russian Literature, Russian Language Development and Geography. Once a month there will also be classes of History of Russian Cinematography and Introduction to Careers.
Russian as a Foreign Language class for both adults and youth: This class is for students who have just begun their journey in Russian education.
San Diego Russian School promotes cross-cultural connections by providing a broad education system which covers Russian language, history, and literature in a bilingual environment. The school was originally founded in 1998 to retain heritage language, history, and culture among Russian children and teenagers living in San Diego. Since then the school has developed into an immersion program offering a broad array of subjects for both fluent speakers and beginners.
College Scholarships For Seniors
Community Commons administers a College Scholarship Program that provides SDRS graduating seniors with a one-time financial assistance for future studying in college. The scholarship program is intended to reward academic excellence and participation in school activities and other Community Commons projects. Acholarships in the amount of $100-$500 are awarded to high school students who have completed a minimum of 6 years in San Diego Russian School, including the school’s senior year.