Critical Language Scholarship Program | Nikidrea Rey
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With host family at Kol-tor Lake

Nikidrea Rey

Nikidrea Rey is an alum­na of the 2019 CLS Russ­ian pro­gram in Bishkek, Kyr­gyzs­tan. She is work­ing on a master’s degree in Russ­ian, East Euro­pean and Eurasian Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin and holds a bachelor’s degree in inter­na­tion­al rela­tions. Upon grad­u­a­tion spring 2020, Nikidrea plans to pur­sue a career in gov­ern­ment ser­vice. She enjoys trav­el, hik­ing, read­ing, writ­ing poet­ry, and explor­ing museums.

The Road to Study­ing Russian

Pri­or to par­tic­i­pat­ing in the CLS Pro­gram I stud­ied Span­ish for 8 years and spent a year liv­ing in South Korea learn­ing the lan­guage and engag­ing in cul­tur­al activ­i­ties. Dur­ing the sum­mer of 2017, I was for­tu­nate to be extend­ed an intern­ship oppor­tu­ni­ty at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Rus­sia, which is when I start­ed to learn Russian.

A Host Fam­i­ly Bond

One of my favorite mem­o­ries in Kyr­gyzs­tan occurred dur­ing a hike with my host fam­i­ly, when we all took on a dif­fi­cult three-hour trek for the first time. Dur­ing the three weeks lead­ing up to our excur­sion, I was ner­vous about how well I was fit­ting into my hosts’ home. Oth­er stu­dents seemed to be much clos­er to their local fam­i­lies. They took out this qual­i­ty time to show me not only that they were excit­ed to have me in their home, but they packed games, lunch and every­thing I could think to make the trip spe­cial and suc­cess­ful. I real­ized that com­mu­ni­ca­tion bar­ri­ers also exist in body lan­guage and can be mis­per­ceived. From this point, we had an amaz­ing sum­mer together.

Dis­pelling Myths Abroad and at Home

On a pro­gram excur­sion to the Holy Res­ur­rec­tion Russ­ian Ortho­dox Cathe­dral in Bishkek.

There are many mis­con­cep­tions about the make­up of the black com­mu­ni­ty and the mean­ing of black cul­ture in Amer­i­ca. In Kyr­gyzs­tan, I was able to share who I am and explain how media does not direct­ly reflect reality.

One of the pro­fes­sors at AUCA was well-known for mak­ing excep­tion­al­ly deli­cious plov. He sent me the recipe and I was able to pre­pare it for my fam­i­ly in Amer­i­ca. They were real­ly excit­ed to try it and asked to share it with more peo­ple. As we sat around eat­ing the dish, ques­tions came pour­ing in about Kyr­gyz lifestyle and culture.

Why Russ­ian?

Russ­ian lan­guage is chal­leng­ing, but beau­ti­ful and absolute­ly worth learn­ing. It’s among the world’s most wide­ly spo­ken lan­guages and its pop­u­lar­i­ty spans beyond the bor­ders of the for­mer Sovi­et Union. Exchang­ing a few words in Russ­ian both in the U.S. and dur­ing trav­els abroad, I’ve been able to gain access to expe­ri­ences and great peo­ple. My favorite Russ­ian word is мир (“mir”), because it means both world” and peace.” I believe that peace is the estab­lish­ment of a com­mon ground among peo­ple and lan­guage learn­ing is an essen­tial com­po­nent in its foundation. 

I hope to find employ­ment in gov­ern­ment work­ing on capac­i­ty build­ing in nations of the for­mer Sovi­et Union. Hav­ing learned Russ­ian, I will be able to com­mu­ni­cate more effec­tive­ly with U.S. gov­ern­ment partners. 

Alumni Profiles

Nikidrea Rey
Nikidrea Rey
Russian 2019
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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Posted Date

April 29, 2020