Melissa Miller, director of Notre Dame’s Russian language program, brought a group of students from her Post-Soviet Russian Cinema class to attend a weekend of the Chicago International Film Festival thanks to a Teaching Beyond the Classroom grant from the College of Arts and Letters.
After studying Russian cinema in the classroom, students were able to see how the concepts applied to the Eastern European films showing at the festival.
“The important thing for me was that students had a chance to take the stuff that we have seen in our class, which is specifically Russian, and compare it with other experiences in post-communist eastern Europe,” Miller said. “The students were able to make insightful connections between what we had seen and what we had been studying in the course.”
For sophomore Jessie Saeli, a Program of Liberal Studies and Russian major and Kellogg International Scholar, the trip was also an opportunity to deepen her interest in the Russian language and culture through conversations.
“Being able to hang out with my Russian professor and a Russian Fulbright student, I was able to ask a lot of questions and practice the language in more of a casual environment,” she said. “It was a great experience.”
While Miller had the students gather in small groups to discuss and review the films after fall break, the real discussion took place during small pockets of downtime on the trip.
“There’s an incredible atmosphere when you’re attending a film festival with your classmates,” said Nicholas Taylor, a film, television, and theatre major who went on the trip. “My roommate and I had this really long discussion after we saw a Finnish comedy. We were just talking about it for hours afterwards. Having that experience was extremely beneficial.”
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