Senior Sebastian Farris said he wanted to study abroad after taking Russian in high school, but lacked the resources to go overseas until he joined UNC's Russian Flagship Program.
Now, as a program ambassador, he is helping students learn about the many benefits of the program.
Launched in 2020, the Russian Flagship program is funded by the U.S. government and allows students from all majors to participate in four years of Russian language coursework and abroad travels.
“The United States Department of Defense funds universities across America to have these programs to be able to train students in speaking, reading, listening and everything else that comes with learning a language,” Farris said.
He added that UNC is one of only eight Russian flagship programs located in the United States.
For international opportunities, the program allows participants to study in a Russian-speaking country over the summer and to spend a year in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, some students have voiced safety concerns about travel to Russia, but Farris said the program hasn’t sent students to Russia in multiple years.
“We have this lively, thriving program about the Russian language and we are showing no signs of stopping because we've been able to set ourselves up to be able to continue in a way that is not contingent on the ability to go to Russia itself,” he said.
Students’ study abroad experiences have been relocated to Russian-speaking countries including the Republic of Georgia and Kazakhstan.