SF State News {University Communications}

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Students win gold, bronze in essay contest

May 10, 2010 -- Students Yulia Zhuk Rozkin and Katarina Verbitchi won gold and bronze respectively in a national Russian essay contest.

A photo of first place finisher Yulia Zhuk Rozkin.

Yulia Zhuk Rozkin was a first place finisher in a Russian essay contest.

The competition, sponsored by the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR), received more than 1,000 entries in seven categories this year.  A panel of writers and educators in Moscow judged the entries.

Students had just one hour to write their essays based on the Russian proverb:  "It's better to have 100 friends than a hundred rubles."

Rozkin, an international business major who will graduate this spring, charmed the judges with her essay referencing Russian children's songs and other cultural details.  She placed first in the "advanced heritage learners" category for those who attended school in Russia for more than five years. Rozkin emigrated from Belarus in 2005. The mother of a 10-month-old daughter, she took a Russian class to brush up on her native language and ensure that her daughter would grow up fluent in both English and Russian.

First place finishers in other categories represented Columbia University, Harvard University, Bryn Mawr College, Barnard College and University of Pennsylvania.

Verbitchi, a native of Chisinau, Moldova in the former Soviet Union, placed third in the "level one heritage learners" category for those who speak Russian at home but have not attended school in Russia. She emigrated from Russia to Hungary at an early age prior to immigrating to the U.S.  Her essay expressing the virtues of her friendships was peppered with references to French literature. She hopes to graduate within the next two years with a degree in French.  

This year's placements are the second gold and bronze medals won by SF State students since the University began entering the contest five years ago. Students have also earned honorable mentions in previous years.  SF State was the only CSU to place in the contest.

"I encouraged all of my students to participate in this competition," said Russian Language Lecturer Svetlana Kristal, who has taught the award winners. "Being articulate in more than one language is a necessity in today's global world."

ACTR, part of the American Councils for International Education, was founded in 1974 to encourage international academic exchange.

-- Denize Springer


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