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Meet Rossina Soyan, the recipient of the 2018/19 James R. Nattinger Endowed Scholarship
Meet Rossina Soyan, the recipient of the 2018/19 James R. Nattinger Endowed Scholarship

I love learning, and I hope to keep learning for the rest of my life. I started school in the village of Beldir-Aryg (Tuva, Russia). When I was 12, I was accepted to a wonderful boarding school in Kyzyl where I used four languages for studying: Russian, English, Tuvan, and Turkish. I went on to study at Herzen University in St. Petersburg and majored in Translation Studies. I completed a graduate program at Lomonosov University in Moscow with a degree of kandidat nauk in Linguistics (PhD). I studied German, French, and Chinese at different periods of my life, but English is my biggest love story.

I began my work career as a freelance and full-time translator. However, I realized that teaching in a university setting was more appealing to me. I liked interacting with both students and professors, sharing knowledge and learning with them. I started teaching as part of the graduate program at Lomonosov University and quickly became aware of my shortcomings as a teacher. I was an expert in content areas, but I lacked the skills in transferring this knowledge to students. I decided to continue my education.

I enrolled in the MA TESOL program at Portland State because the degree allows me to build an international network of colleagues, and acquire the skills necessary for teaching languages and acquire the skills necessary for teaching languages, as well as conducting and publishing research both in Russian and English. The Nattinger Fellowship will help me to make further steps in the same direction. I am honored to have an opportunity to work with a faculty member and pursue my interests as a researcher.

One way I would like to contribute is in the preservation and revitalization of endangered languages. My mother tongue is Tuvan, a minority language, though not in danger of extinction. However, I know that there are few textbooks for English speakers to learn Tuvan. I feel my experience in studying various languages, my undergraduate major in translation, my research background and the MA TESOL degree can support such an undertaking. I know that a Tuvan textbook may not be in great demand, but it will open doors to the Tuvan people and culture. This project has great social and personal relevance to me.