UCLA’s Russian Flagship Program builds knowledge and community

Courtesy of Geneva Flores

Geneva Flores

UCLA Humanities | March 13, 2023

Geneva Flores, a first-year applied linguistics major, shared her experiences as a participant in UCLA’s Russian Flagship Program, which allows students of all majors to build professional-level competence in Russian through studies on campus and abroad. 

“The Russian Flagship Program equips courageous global leaders with the language skills and cultural competence to build bridges between international communities,” according to the program’s website. 

The website also states: “The UCLA Russian Flagship was one of the three original Russian programs funded by The Language Flagship, a federally funded initiative to revolutionize the way Americans learn languages by offering a rigorous, articulated program leading to professional-level proficiency in a critical language.”

Flores said the program brings students up to a very high proficiency and includes a component involving tutoring and study abroad, which she plans to complete this coming summer. As part of her coursework, Flores recently completed a presentation on Maria Prymachenko, a Ukrainian folk artist.

“Her genre is called naive art, which is basically people who have no formal art training and didn’t necessarily go to school — they just create art,” Flores said. “I was really drawn to her paintings, at first because I thought they were pretty, they have so many bright colors and there was something they had, a very creative sort of energy that you don’t really get from lots of other art.”

For her Russian class, Flores decided to do a presentation on Prymachenko’s life. She found out that shortly after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, some of her paintings were destroyed, but others were saved as the people who were living in the town decided to go into a burning building. 

“I think it’s important to make an extra effort to be aware of Ukrainian culture and the historical relationship between Russia and Ukraine, and everything that’s going on right now,” said Flores.