Hi, it's me Leora

I'm just a Russian-Jewish kid from Minnesota. I grew up immersed in (immigrant) Soviet culture, but told myself all of high school that I was interested in the Middle East, even if I actually wasn't. In college, I took Persian as my Middle Eastern language -- and loved it, even if I didn't like most other courses related to the Middle East. The summer of 2017 (i.e. the summer after my first year of college), I went to Tajikistan, where I realized that I wanted to study Soviet history -- and, more specifically, Soviet Central Asian history. I went on to serve as a Development Intern at the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia and the Political Intern at the U.S. Consulate General, both in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In all of these settings, I have focused on language policy and shift as an arm of Soviet policy. As part of my studies, I have learned Ukrainian, Tajiki, Farsi, Kazakh, and Uyghur, in addition to the other languages I have learned during other periods of my life.

As for my educational background: I graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University with a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures and am a current Ph.D. student in Russian and East European History (read: Soviet Central Asian history) at Harvard University. I have also studied abroad at Moscow's Higher School of Economics and Russian State University for the Humanities through Middlebury's Schools Abroad Program and at American Councils Tajikistan through the Critical Language Scholarship. I am the recipient of Princeton's Streicker International Fellowship; Nicholas Bachko, Jr. Award; SINSI (Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative) Prize; Monty Raiser Thesis Award in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; and Labouisse Prize. I was also selected as a Fulbright Student Finalist in 2020 and was slated to do research in Kazakhstan when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

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