Although the PSI is a pre-college program, we have long-term goals for our participants and the scope of the program. To create globally active leaders of tomorrow, PSI seeks to cultivate not only students’ cognitive and intellectual skills, but also their character. The preparation PSI can offer to high-achieving high school students enables them to acquire a unique skill set that makes them very attractive for admission and financial aid at top colleges.
The long-term goal for PSI is to continue to offer a two-summer sequence: after one year of Russian in their home institution, students come to UW-Madison in the summer and participate in an intensive 5-week program; they continue learning Russian during the following school year, and participate in the PSI-Abroad before or after their senior year in high school. Following the completion of this sequence, we expect that participants would be well-positioned to enter any college-level Russian program at an advanced level, speeding their time to degree completion and enhancing their opportunities for participation in a study-abroad program.
The introduction of the PSI-Abroad program in 2015 has deepened the language and cultural immersion of participating students, enhanced language retention and allowed students to form relationships with host families and peers that continue well after the conclusion of the program. Additionally, NSLI-Y features a strong alumni network, with over 3,800 alumni throughout the United States.
In addition, the PSI has developed a mentoring program for PSI alumni that attend UW-Madison: this support-network of faculty and students helps with student-retention rates at the college level, especially for first-generation students.
The PSI is an inherently interdisciplinary program, as we seek to expose students to all aspects of Russian culture, history, and civilization in our efforts to build cultural competence and foster cross-cultural dialogue. One of the advantages of using Alexander Pushkin as our core topic and focus lies in the way that his life, works, and image have touched not just the literary tradition, but all aspects of Russian arts, history and culture. Through Pushkin, the PSI is able to reach a student population that is traditionally underrepresented at the college level, but even more so in Eurasian area studies. We believe that by developing this new population of incoming college freshmen and nurturing critical thinking skills, advanced language ability, and an international outlook, the Pushkin Summer Institute prepares students for both the challenges of college life and the demands of a globalized economy.