May 12, 2017
Hillary Hempstead
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Oliver Okun ‘17, a Russian major, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Russia.

Okun’s interest in Russian culture was sparked after hearing stories about his great-grandfather, who emigrated from the country during World War I. Over the years, Okun’s curiosity only deepened and, while at Oberlin College, he was moved to study facets of the country, including Russia’s language, history, literature, and poetry.

During the summer of 2016, Okun lived abroad in St. Petersburg, where he was able to experience firsthand Russia’s culture. Through that experience, the country came alive. “Suddenly all the history and literature became real to me, and I fell in love with the culture all over again,” says Okun.

To Okun, applying for a Fulbright assistantship to teach English in Russia seemed like a natural choice, and he is eager for the opportunity the fellowship presents. “I should be so lucky to live, study, and teach in a place where I am immersed in a culture that fascinates me,” says Okun.

He’s particularly inspired by the role of the Fulbright Program, which focuses on fostering understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. “A lot of misunderstanding exists between the American and Russian people, and I believe I can do my small part to improve mutual understanding.”

Through the fellowship, Okun hopes to learn more about what life is like for the Russian people. He also is looking forward to improving his teaching skills.

The graduating senior will begin his fellowship in September in a yet-to-be-determined city.

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