Christiana Holsapple

Christiana Holsapple, an International Studies senior at the University of Kentucky, is also completing minors in Russian and Spanish languages. Throughout her years at the University of Kentucky, Holsapple has been extremely active. She completed an internship with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, served as a peer advisor in the Education Abroad Office, presented research to state legislators at Posters at the Capitol, and was a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society. However, what Holsapple feels she has benefitted the most from during her undergraduate years at the University of Kentucky are the many opportunities she has had to gain vital experience abroad.

Holsapple first studied overseas in Summer 2010 with the Kentucky Institute of International Studies’ program in L’viv, Ukraine, studying post-Soviet history and sociology.  Deeply impressed by the irreplaceable experience afforded by learning outside America, Holsapple again studied abroad for the Winter 2010-2011 term in San Jose, Costa Rica, benefitting immensely from the immersive Spanish language training. Moreover, awarded the College of Arts & Sciences’ Holocaust Summer Travel Grant in 2011, Holsapple traveled independently for a month throughout Europe, visiting museums, monuments, and archives in Germany, France, Austria, Poland, and the Netherlands. In this independent research, Holsapple collected data and analyzed the Holocaust as related to the field of human rights, her thematic concentration within her International Studies major.

As the recipient of the Russian and Eastern Studies Department’s study abroad scholarship, Holsapple spent two months in summer 2011 studying intensive Russian language in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Of the various places Holsapple has traveled, she says that Kyrgyzstan was, without a doubt, her favorite. Studying in Kyrgyzstan was truly a unique and immersive experience, which provided the opportunity to gain insight into a quite under-studied, yet vitally important, part of the world. While in Kyrgyzstan, Christiana had such experiences as: living in a yurt (the traditional, “teepee-type” form of Kyrgyz housing), riding camels in Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk-Kyl, and picnicking with her host family in the Tien-Shan mountains - all in an immersive Russian environment. Holsapple asserts that this is the type of language and cultural learning that simply cannot be carried out in a classroom.  

However, likely Holsapple’s most valuable experience abroad is the academic year she is currently spending studying Russian and Ukrainian languages in Kyiv, Ukraine. Such an opportunity was made possible through funding of the National Security Education Program’s David L. Boren Award, a scholarship through the US Department of State for study of critical foreign languages. As a Boren Scholar, Holsapple receives funding for a year of study overseas and also will complete a minimum of one year of employment with the federal government subsequent to graduation. Holsapple aims to fulfill this service agreement through a position with the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, where she would have the opportunity to utilize her language skills in work related to her course of study at the University of Kentucky.

In Kyiv this year, Holsapple is taking intensive language courses in Russian and Ukrainian, as well as courses in politics and history of the former Soviet Union. Holsapple continues to be amazed by the invaluable insight and life-changing experiences to be gained through studying abroad and is confident in the language skills acquired by living overseas. All in all, Holsapple attests that the experiences she has had abroad, all part of her University of Kentucky degree in connection to the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, have well-prepared her for post-undergraduate further educational and career opportunities. 

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