Since 2015, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been an implementing organization for the prestigious National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). NSLI-Y, funded by the U.S. Department of State, promotes language learning among American young people. This full-scholarship program allows the Pushkin Summer Institute Abroad to send high-achieving students to Daugavpils, Latvia each summer for a six-week program of intensive Russian language and culture.
The PSI Abroad NSLI-Y program partners with Learn Russian in the EU on a comprehensive program of language, culture, and service learning. In many ways, Daugavpils is an ideal setting for learning Russian: it is the second largest city in Latvia and has one of the highest percentages of Russian-speakers of any city outside of the Russian Federation. Russian is the language of everyday life in Daugavpils, a small city with a rich history and modern amenities. And because Latvia is a member of the European Union, U.S. citizens do not require a visa for short-term study.
Many, but not all, of the students on the PSI Abroad NSLI-Y program are alumni of the domestic Pushkin Summer Institute in Madison. All of the PSI Abroad NSLI-Y students have a strong background in Russian and a desire to continue with the language. Participants attend classes in Russian language and culture five days a week for six weeks and experience many cultural and historical excursions in Daugavpils and around Latvia. In addition, students live with Russian-speaking host families, which facilitates immersion in the language and culture. PSI Abroad NLSI-Y students also work closely with peer tutors, local youth who are native speakers of Russian and interact with our students in cultural activities, sporting events, conversation practice, or just hanging out.
Devon, who went on the 2017 NSLI-Y PSI Abroad program, shares his experiences here. https://www.nsliy-interactive.org/2017/10/30/immersive-language-studying-devon-parikh-in-latvia/