COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Response: Learn how the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies is working under the current operational posture at

Program Overview
The Pitt STARTALK Russian Program will be administered by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES), offering an intensive three-week residential Russian language summer camp from June 25 to July 15, 2023, with pre-camp online activities in March-May 2023 and post-camp online language and culture activities in September 2023 through May 2024. The curriculum will be based on the theme “That Diverse Russian-Speaking World!”, through which students will be introduced to the cultural diversity of Russia’s regions and to other cultures in which the Russian language is spoken daily. The language curriculum is proficiency-based and student-centered, developing language skills in all modes required for successful communication—speaking, listening, reading, and writing, with a goal of ACTFL Novice Mid to Novice High proficiency for students in the beginning group and Novice High to Intermediate Low for students in the continuing group. Other anticipated outcomes include the students’ increased cultural competence and college and career readiness. The program is for 20 students entering grades 10 through 12, providing a total of 200 instructional hours. REEES partners with three high schools that offer academic year Russian language programs (Pittsburgh Brashear High School, Pritzker College Prep, and The Noble Academy) to recruit participants, while also accepting applications from students at other U.S. high schools.

Requirements and eligibility
High school students (grades 10-12 in Fall 2023) from our partnering schools and other US schools, who have no prior experience in Russian or who have taken one or two semesters of Russian in their high schools, are eligible to apply.  All STARTALK participants are required to participate in all language classes and cultural activities.

June 25 - July 15, 2023

The Pitt Russian STARTALK program is free of charge to accepted students.

Schedule of Classes
A sample weekly schedule of classes & cultural activities from a previous year.
The schedule might be modified for the 2023-2024 program.


Olga Klimova, Program Director
I am a Lecturer and Director of the Russian Program in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. I have been teaching Russian language, literature, and culture courses in Pitt's Slavic Department since 2005 as a graduate assistant, and, later, as a Lecturer. I have also taught a variety of language, literature, and culture courses at Carnegie Mellon University, Brock University, Mercyhurst University, Chatham University, and Washington and Jefferson College. I am a certified ACTFL OPI tester and WPT tester and also a regional chair for the ACTR Olympiada of Spoken Russian. I have received extensive training in second language teaching methodologies, educational technologies, and online teaching at Pitt, Duquesne University, CARLA Institute at the University of Minnesota, and the University of Hawaii, and participated in a few STARTALK teacher training summer programs. Since 2018, I have been directing Pitt STARTALK Russian Summer School. I am specifically interested in integrating technology into the language classroom and using computer-assisted programs for language assessment. In my free time, I like going to the gym, doing yoga, watching films and TV shows, and feeding stray cats who come to our porch daily.


Maria Dianifaba, Lead Instructor (Continuing level)
I am a global minded educator with 16 years of language teaching experience (ESL, French, and Russian). A native Russian, I spent 8 years leading the language department for the English International School in Moscow, Russia. In 2011 I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and taught Russian at the College of Saint Rose in New York. I completed my master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh and currently work as a language teacher at St. Edmund’s Academy, a private school in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. I have taught Russian at STARTALK for four years, working with students in the summer and participating in rigorous professional development. I am looking forward to working with STARTALK again this year! When not teaching, I enjoy cooking, reading, and travelling with my spouse and our dog.




To apply, please complete and submit this application form , attach a letter of recommendation, and download the parent-student agreement and photo release form for submission with your application.  All application materials for the 2023 program are due by Friday, February 17, 2023.

FOR TEACHERS—SUBMIT your confidential letter of recommendation.

For any questions and inquiries about Pitt STARTALK Russian Summer School “That Diverse Russian-Speaking World” contact (Olga Klimova),, or (412) 648-7407.

Our mailing address is:

Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies
University of Pittsburgh
4200 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260