NSLI for Youth Scholarships to Study Language Abroad

NSLI for Youth Scholarships to Study Language Abroad


About the NSLI for YOUTH Moscow Programs

17 August - Ya Lyublyu Moskvu (2)

The NSLI for YOUTH (NSLI-Y) program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affair, provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students and recent high school graduates to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs.  NSLI-Y is part of a U.S. government initiative that prepares American citizens to be leaders in a global world. Now more than ever, it is important that Americans have the necessary linguistic skills and cultural knowledge to promote international dialogue and support American engagement abroad. NSLI-Y aims to provide opportunities to American youth that will spark a lifetime interest in language learning.

For the sixth year in a row the Russian American Foundation, in cooperation with American Councils for International Education, is proud to have
been selected to design and implement the NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture, RAF and Bolshoi Way.  This unique program combines an emphasis on Russian Language and Culture with a tailored pre-professional ballet program at the Moscow Bolshoi Ballet Academy.  In 2015 RAF has been awarded an opportunity to implement an additional NSLI for YOUTH program for non-ballet students which will focus on immersing American youth in Russian language and culture and will introduce them to Modern Day Russia.

Meeting with the GM of MicrosoftRAF’s 17 years of experience in US-Russia exchanges encompasses such programs as: NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture, RAF and Bolshoi Way (Moscow, Russia)Annual Bolshoi Ballet
Academy Summer Program (NY and CT, US), Annual Battles on Ice
® (NY,US and Moscow, Russia) and NSLI-Y Russian American Heritage Experience (Moscow, Russia). RAF’s NSLI-Y programs combine RAF’s mission of promoting a non-partisan bilateral dialogue and the goals of the NSLI for YOUTH program, as relating to Russia:

  • To improve the ability of Americans to engage with the people of Russian-speaking countries through shared language
  • To develop a cadre of Americans with advanced linguistic skills and related cultural understanding who are able to use their linguistic and cultural skills to advance international dialogue and compete effectively in the global economy
  • To provide a tangible incentive for the learning and use of foreign language by creating overseas language study opportunities for U.S. high school students
  • To spark a lifetime interest in foreign languages and cultures among American youth

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (May 2012): “I can’t stress enough how important these exchanges are in building a strong relationship between our countries… These exchanges provide academic opportunities for students in all fields. But indirectly, they also help to undermine stereotypes. Nothing is worse for scientific advance, business development, or international cooperation than assumptions based on false impressions or factual inaccuracies. Greater engagement and understanding does not always lead to common interests or shared values. But interaction between our societies at least reduces the probability of disagreements based on misperceptions and increases the opportunities of collaboration between individuals, companies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and governments.”

For questions regarding RAF’s NSLI for YOUTH Programs please contact:
               Kirsten Howe
               Program Coordinator, NSLI-Y/Bolshoi PREP Programs
               E-mail: khowe@russianamericanfoundation.org
               Phone: 212-687-6118 ext. 201

 *Program implementation subject to available funding of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture

NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture


RAF DOES NOT participate in the recruitment and/or selection of candidates for this Program.
Please visit the official website of NSLI for YOUTH for all information regarding eligibility and the application process.


RAF’s 2015 NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture (Program) is designed for beginner language learners and is focused on acquisition of Russian language skills and immersion in life of Modern Day Russia.  The goal of RAF’s NSLI-Y Program is to advance participants’: Russian language skills, understanding of Modern Day Russia, awareness of practical and professional applications of new skills and knowledge, and life-long interest in and the study of Russian language and culture. During participants’ 6 weeks in Moscow, they will engage in formal class study, home stays with local families, peer-to-peer activities, pre-professional meetings with companies and leaders, authentic cultural programming, and independent exploration of Moscow.
IMG_0081For all selected finalists, the familiarization process will begin at home through individual and group projects introducing them to Russian language, culture, current events and other themes vital for being a successful NSLI-Y ambassador.  Finalists and their parents/guardians will also be invited to participate in a virtual orientation which will give an overview of the Program and how to prepare for it and allow for parent and participant questions. Additionally, finalists will participate in a 3-day Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) in New York City, which will continue to further their understanding of Program’s mission and goals, prepare them for the 6 weeks ahead, and build a collaborative environment within the group prior to the departure.

RAF’s key local host partner for the implementation of NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture is Moscow’s State Academy of Choreography (MGAKh).  RAF has partnered with MGAKh for 6 years in successfully implementing its NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture, RAF and Bolshoi Way (2010 – Present) and RAF Russian American Heritage Experience (2011) programs.  MGAKh is also RAF’s long-term partner for many of its U.S.-based internationally-acclaimed programs.


10 August - Russian Class
RAF’s Program enables its participants’ to acquire Russian language skills and cultural competency through a weekly schedule of classes, cultural experiences, time spent with host families, and individual free time.(Click here for a sample weekly schedule). Participants spend half day in class at MGAKh studying Russian language and culture, while the second half of the day is dedicated to off-site activities that promote application of language skills and knowledge gained in class. Every week, participants will also have free time to explore the city on their own. During the week, participants reside in the dormitories of MGAKh, while on the weekends participants live with assigned host families, who typically host one to two American participants each. During their time with their host families, participants become part of the rich Russian traditions centered on family life, practice linguistic skills, and experience local culture first hand. Host families often take participants to sites, such as parks, markets, and even to the dacha (a weekend summer house in the outskirts of the city) and involve them in family holidays and traditions, such as cooking, birthday celebrations, and other aspects of locals’ life.


MGAKh is located in the heart of Moscow, with sites like Red Square, Old Arbat, Gorky Park, and many others easily accessible for participants. The host families are spread throughout the Moscow metro-area and different neighborhoods. While no participant is allowed to travel beyond Moscow and its surrounding suburbs, host families are encouraged to introduce participants to the diversity of Moscow’s neighborhoods, from city center to the dacha in the outskirts of the city.

While the Program incorporates numerous organized activities which take place in the metropolises of New York City (PDO) and Moscow (6 weeks overseas), participants may be exposed to rural areas as part of his/her homestay or individual free time experiences.  In addition to the organized group activities, participants will be given substantial free time to explore and navigate the cities of the Program location on their own.  No travel beyond the Program’s locations will be allowed.

Group making Traditional Russian CraftsCULTURAL PROGRAM*

The Program incorporates numerous organized cultural and peer-to-peer experiences (visits to cultural sites, interactive workshops, friendly sports matches), which will expand participants’ understanding of Russia from the locals’ perspective. An additional focus will be made on professional activities (visits to companies and organizations, meetings with local leaders, etc.), which will introduce participants to diverse career and educational options available post NSLI-Y.

Previously, the Program has included events such as:

  • meeting with foreign service officers at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow
  • master classes and gallery tours with world-renowned Russian artists
  • attendance of Moscow’s theaters and ballet companies
  • company visits to local and international businesses and corporations
  • restaurant outings for authentic Russian cuisine

The nature of this Program also encourages participants to explore the city on their own in addition to RAF’s programming.


6 August - Metro Mural (2)Moscow is one of the most dynamic and fascinating cities in the world.  Similar to New York, it is a big city and, therefore, regular awareness, common sense, and caution are expected from all participants at all times.

While RAF takes great care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants during the Program, our ability to do so depends, in part, on serious preparation of participants and their families for the experience. All Participants in the Program are expected to be mature and responsible in their decision making process, to be able to function independently, to understand the inherent risks involved in overseas travel, to understand the rigorous nature of the Program, and to comply with all rules, laws, and regulations of the Program and the overseas host country and hosts. The Program is structured so that, in addition to organized and chaperoned activities, participants are encouraged to explore Moscow on their own. Attendance at all Program activities and curfew is mandatory.  An American Resident Advisor will accompany the group on the overseas trip, will reside with the group at MGAKh residency, and will be available to participants for overall guidance and 24/7 emergency assistance. Resident Advisor will not accompany participants during their free time, individual activities, and/or during their stays at host families.

While in many respects Moscow is like the big cities in the US and shares a similar level of risks, there are some country specific ones. Below are important links that will assist candidates and their families to understand some of the Russia specific risks, advisories, and recommendations which are relevant to travel to Russia:

US Department of State – Russia
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – Russia
Smart Travel Enrollment Program
US Embassy in Moscow Messages & Travel Alerts

For questions regarding RAF’s NSLI for YOUTH Programs please contact:
               Kirsten Howe
               Program Coordinator, NSLI-Y/Bolshoi PREP Programs
               E-mail: khowe@russianamericanfoundation.org
               Phone: 212-687-6118 ext. 201

For detailed information on NSLI FOR YOUTH Scholarships to Study Language Abroad, please visit the official program website.
*Program details are subject to change
**Program implementation subject to available funding of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

NSLI-Y RAF & Bolshoi Way

NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture, RAF & Bolshoi Way

6 August - Red Square (17)

Please visit the official program website of NSLI-Y Russian Language and Culture, RAF and Bolshoi Way for detailed information on the program and the application process.

For the sixth year in a row, the Russian American Foundation was selected as an implementing organization for the highly prestigious NSLI FOR YOUTH Scholarships to Study Language Abroad Program funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in cooperation with American Councils for International Education. RAF is honored to continue offering the NSLI-Y Russian Language & Culture; RAF and Bolshoi Way to its Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Program participants. This highly successful program allows RAF to send, on a full scholarship, fifteen students of ballet to Moscow on a summer educational and pre-professional program. The comprehensive experience combines Russian language instruction, cultural immersion, and ballet training with Teachers of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

nsliy_2012_certificatesRAF, through its partnership with Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy, is proud to have consistently demonstrated the ability to provide a unique program which unifies intensive ballet instruction with introduction to Russian language and culture. While the training offered by the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow makes RAF NSLI-Y program distinct from other NSLI for YOUTH programs, the primary focus remains on Russian language and cultural studies. At its completion, participants demonstrate; significant advances in their global awareness and linguistic skills, lifetime connections with locals, commitment to cross-cultural communication and understanding, and interest in academic and career tracks tied to international relations, business and government affairs.

For more information about this life-changing experience, please visit the official website at BolshoiBalletAcademy.com.

For questions regarding RAF’s NSLI for YOUTH Programs please contact:
               Kirsten Howe
               Program Coordinator, NSLI-Y/Bolshoi PREP Programs
               E-mail: khowe@russianamericanfoundation.org
               Phone: 212-687-6118 ext. 201

 *Program implementation subject to available funding of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs