Mark Kiselev, the founder of the Youth English Speakers Club at his high school in Russia, is attending Cowley College in Arkansas City as part of the YEAR Program (Year of Exchange in America for Russians).
The program provides approximately 70 scholarships for outstanding Russian students to spend the 2019-20 academic year participating in a non-degree, undergraduate full-time study at community colleges and affordable four-year institutions throughout the U.S. It is funded by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and administered by American Councils for International Education.
The program is designed to provide promising young Russian leaders a comprehensive understanding of American society while building leadership skills and empowering participants to share their experiences after returning to their home communities.
Prior to coming to Cowley, Kiselev volunteered at the American Center in Moscow, where he improved his English. He hopes to Immerse himself in the American culture during his two semesters at Cowley.
“This is my first time in United States and I would really like to improve my vocabulary and accent and immerse into American culture,” Kiselev said. “I like that there is regular homework at Cowley to make me more disciplined and prepared. The teaching approach seems more practical.”
Kiselev is required to complete one course in American Studies during each semester of study. He also must take part in 20 hours of community service and conduct three informational interviews in his proposed field of study.
Kiselev arrived in Arkansas City one month prior to the beginning of the academic year. He stayed for two weeks with his host family, Matthew and Krystle Nies, who both work at Cowley. Matthew is the International Student Services Coordinator and is the head of the International Student Organization, while Krystle is an instructor in the Social Science Department.
“It has been neat learning some Russian and Hebrew,” Matthew Nies said. “We have also eaten some interesting food.”
The Nies’ provided Kiselev with daily meals, guidance and support, and an important opportunity to engage with the community. Kiselev is now staying in one of Cowley’s dormitories, but continues to maintain close contact with his host family.
Kiselev received numerous awards while in high school. He took part in various academic competitions and was the winner of the prestigious National-level Olympiad in Social Sciences “Vysshaya proba.”
“I would like to say that Mark is the perfect applicant and accepting him into the YEAR Program will be advantageous for him and for the American environment,” said Vladislava Kachurova, President of European Youth Parliament Russia. “In the long run, it is hoped that with the knowledge gained from the program, he would make EYP proud.”
Kiselev plans to major in sociology and has joined the Cowley Collegiate Quiz Bowl team. After returning home to Russia next summer, Kiselev hopes to one day return to the U.S.
Matthew Nies has enjoyed being involved with the YEAR Program and said the college would like to have upwards of three students from the program if accepted during the 2020-21 academic year.
To follow Mark Kiselev and his experience in the U.S., follow him on Instagram at @sochny_pupc.