September 4, 2013

Erica Even, Student Assistant

Russian Students Tour VSU Campus

VALDOSTA — Nine Russian students visited Valdosta State University Tuesday, Aug. 27, on their tour of Georgia colleges and universities.

The group was mainly comprised of high school students from Syktyvkar, Komi Republic, Russia, who are interested in attending college in the United States. Before visiting VSU, the students visited the University of West Georgia and Georgia State University.

“We are always looking to attract more international students to VSU from around the world, as we believe this makes the VSU campus more interesting, attractive, and diverse, “ said Irina McClellan, assistant director of VSU’s Center for International Programs and Study Abroad Program advisor.

The Russian students visited a VSU Russian language class and gave a presentation on their hometown culture. Advanced Russian language students then led them on a tour of the VSU campus that ended with a visit to the Observatory.

Natalia Shakina, VSU Russian language instructor, said the visit allowed her students to practice their language skills with native speakers.

“It was a great opportunity for the students to see their peers from Russia and to get to know how similar and at the same time how different we all are,” said Shakina. “As their teacher, I could not help but enjoy watching their faces light up when they were able to understand and were understood.”

Valdosta State University has a long-standing relationship with Syktyvkar and Syktyvkar State University. About two or three students from Syktyvkar apply to VSU every year, said McClellan.

Today, VSU has 20 Russian-speaking international students on campus; 10 of those students come from Russia.

VSU has offered Russian language classes since the 1960s.  Students can minor in Russian language or take Russian language to fulfill a foreign language requirement.  Additionally, study abroad programs in St. Petersburg, Russia, are also available for student participation.

Contact Irina McClellan at or visit for more information.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities.

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals:

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Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

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