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NSLI-Y Russian Language & Culture

NSLI-Y Russian Language & Culture

Please visit the official website of NSLI for YOUTH for all information regarding eligibility and the application process.

RAF does not participate in the recruitment and/or selection of candidates of or this Program.

For the fifth consecutive year Russian American Foundation was selected as an implementing organization for a highly prestigious NSLI for YOUTH to study Russian Language and Culture abroad. 

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.

For 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.

From Russia with Love.jpg

For comprehensive details about the general NSLI FOR YOUTH program visit the official NSLIY website


For additional information regarding RAF’s NSLI-Y Program visit the FAQ Page.

“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."

-- Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Michael McFaul

For questions please contact:

NSLI-Y Director - Jade Direnfeld

Phone: 212 687 6118 x 201


Program Details NSLI-Y

Program Details

RAF’s NSLI-Y Russian Language & Culture 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.

July 6 – August 7, 2020

NSLI-Y Virtual Summer Intensive 2020

Participants spend half day in class at Moscow State Academy of Choreography (MGAKh, also known as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy) 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.

Aaron and Atticus enjoy spending time wi

Successful participants strive to succeed both academically, by improving their language skills, and culturally, by gaining an understanding and appreciation for a new way of life. Participants should expect to immerse themselves in the language and cultural experience; they should not expect to complete academic work for their U.S. school while abroad. 

  • Click HERE for a sample of weekly schedule

Participants should also be prepared to demonstrate open-mindedness, flexibility, and initiative in negotiating the cross-cultural environment, as well as to navigate the challenges inherent to any cross-cultural experience, including conditions and circumstances significantly different from those in the U.S. All participants should expect to have homework and take exams during the course of the program.


The Bolshoi Ballet Academy 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.

Cultural Program
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The Program incorporates numerous organized cultural and peer-to-peer experiences, aimed to expand participants’ understanding of Russia from the locals’ perspective.


An additional focus is made on professional activities, i.e. visits to the offices of local and multinational corporations, and meeting with senior executives and business leaders, 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

  • company visits to local and international businesses and corporations

  • master classes and gallery tours with world-renowned Russian artists

  • attendance of Moscow’s theaters and ballet companies

  • 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.

Preparation and on-program supervision

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 well-being 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 the Bolshoi Ballet Residency residency, and will be available to participants for overall guidance and 24/7 emergency assistance. Resident

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Advisor will not accompany participants during their free time, individual activities, and/or during their stays at host families.


Please visit the official website of NSLI for YOUTH for all information regarding eligibility

Eligibility NSLI-Y


Please visit the official website of NSLI for YOUTH for all information regarding the application process

Testimonials & Videos from Alumni and their Families

Application NSLI-Y
Testimonials NSLI-Y

“The program enriched and affected my daughter skills above expectation. The team work, confidence, leadership, global awareness - all these values are priceless and will have a huge influence on her future life.” 

– NSLI-Y Parent

“This program has really opened my eyes to a wider world and has made me excited to travel even more after it finishes. I feel I can take on the world and overcome many more obstacles now. I have discovered that I have been able to navigate and adapt to the culture shock, making me more confident and reassured in myself as a person. ”

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 15 yo, OH


“The experience was life changing for our daughter. She has a more focused attitude towards her college search and a stronger comfort level as to what direction she would like to move towards career wise."

– NSLI - Y Parent


“Although dancing at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy was a dream come true, the time I spent with my host mom totally changed my outlook on the world. Getting a first-hand look into the Russian culture made me appreciate just how wonderfully diverse our world is! 

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 17 yo, FL

“What an amazing life changing opportunity for my son. It has exploded his world view and increased his curiosity about other cultures … he is well suited and prepared to go in any direction he chooses. Moscow is now at the forefront his daily thoughts, both culturally and politically.” 

– NSLI-Y Parent

"Living with Russians and experiencing their everyday lives has allowed me to understand Russia a little bit better. Overall, I feel more educated, worldly, and compassionate.”

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 18 yo, CA

“The experience our daughter had as a young person in Russia, with such unique opportunities to experience the language and culture, will influence her whole life.”

                                                                                                            – NSL-Y Parent


“This trip has opened so many doors for me. I never had seriously thought of a career in a language but now it is a priority of mine.”

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 16 yo, VA


***NSLI-Y is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, implemented by the Russian American Foundation in Moscow, Russia in collaboration with local independent entities in Russia and U.S. Program implementation is subject to available funding of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  

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