Worlds of Fluency – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Worlds of Fluency

Students Win at the New York Upstate Russian Competition

At HWS, students have worlds of experience and worlds of fluency. Those in attendance at the recent New York Upstate Russian Competition held at SUNY Binghamton watched as fourlanguage students from the Colleges showed their fluency in Russian and earned two of the highest rankings among students from several colleges and universities in the upstate area.

Explaining the competition’s significance, David Galloway, assistant professor of Russian, said that, “The competition is the only venue in which our students get to see other students from different schools who study Russian and are able to evaluate their skills against others.”

“We do not overemphasize the competitive aspect — it is a very friendly competition, where all students are encouraged to do their best — but obviously as faculty we are excited when our students do well, since it reflects positively on our methods and dedication in the classroom,” Galloway said.

Belinda Littlefield ’11 finished second-place overall in the intermediate level competition; Chelsea Hudson ’12 finished third in the beginning level competition; Tom Luly ’12 ranked fifth in the beginners’ competition; and Julie Boardman-Brann ’10 ranked fifth in the intermediate competition. All four students study in the Russian Area Studies Program at HWS.

Littlefield said that, “It was significant for me because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”  Last year, Littlefield placed second in the first level, setting a precedent for her to place second in the second level of this year’s competition. “Apparently, according to what the judges said, there were no other returnees this year that could say the same,” she said.

Littlefield, Hudson, Luly, Boardman-Brann and their competitors were judged in four events: giving a three-minute autobiographical monologue, sight-reading a passage from a 20th-century short story, reciting a poem by from memory and taking a written grammar test.

To prepare for the event, Alla Sadovaya, a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant in Russian Area Studies, worked intensively with Littlefield and Hudson for each event. Beginning one month ago, the two students, along with Boardman-Brann, met with Sadovaya twice a week for an hour outside of class to review readings and work on poem recitations.

“I had some really great Russian teachers who had enthusiasm for their subject and reflected my own enthusiasm back at me,” said Littlefield. “When I wanted to reach beyond myself and practice reading or speaking outside of class, they fully embraced this desire and made themselves available.”

The event has been held annually since 2002, when it was founded by HWS and Union College. Typically, the competition includes six schools: HWS, Union College, SUNY Binghamton, Hamilton College and Syracuse University. This year, the Colleges, Syracuse University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point participated. At the event, members from SUNY Binghamton, Galloway and Sadovaya served as judges.

The photo above is Belinda Littlefield at the competition.