For 30 years, students looking for a way to maintain Russian language skills while keeping up to date on current events and trends in Russia have beaten a path to Roman Zlotin’s one-credit course, “Contemporary Issues in Russia,” informally known as Russian Discussion.
Each semester began with the introductory session where former classmates caught up after the summer or winter breaks and those new to the group met all the participants in the course. Roman asked everyone to bring three topics of interest to the initial class so as to create a schedule for the weeks ahead. Over the course of the semester, each student led at least one discussion. Prior to a particular discussion date, the responsible student shared Russian news articles, videos, or other media on the topic and some questions for discussion with Prof. Zlotin, and the two of them put together the final discussion plan. Each week the class received an email from Roman with the materials and questions for the following discussion.
Going to Russian discussion every Friday afternoon for the past two years has been a highlight of my undergraduate experience at IU. The unique interests of the students guarantee a steady supply of engaging discussion topics, like portrayal of disabilities in Russian media, Broadway and the Arbat, and political opposition in Russia. For Eric Swank, a long-time participant and friend of Roman’s, the course has also served as an excellent way to make connections at IU. “Since I am not directly connected to the Slavic languages department or REEI, for me it’s also been a nice opportunity to get to know some of the Slavic language and REEI students,” Eric said.
Having led the course for 45 semesters since 1991 for 280 students, Roman is stepping down for a well-deserved rest. Спасибо огромное, Роман!
Emma Patterson is an undergraduate major in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures.