Theatre Alumni Russian Exchange
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Vivid memories at the UIC Theatre Russian Exchange Reunion.
Alumni of the UIC Theatre Russian Exchange program reunited last January to celebrate thirty years since the program launched. The reunion took place at the Mercury Theatre owned by UIC Theatre alumnus Wally Stearns.
The former exchange students greeted each other with hugs and laughter. Many hadn’t seen each other since their Russian experience, while others had sustained years-long relationships. One couple even married after their own UIC Theatre exchange program.
The UIC Theatre Russian Exchange was a program offered to UIC Theatre students from 1989- 2007, where students participated in seven seasons of Russian Theatre, with five productions hosted at UIC Theatre with professional actors and designers from Moscow-Southwest Theatre.
Students were given the opportunity to perform in several cities including, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ulan Ude and Lake Baikal in Siberia. Among the many experiences in Russia, UIC students were able to share theatre classes with their Russian counterparts and give performances in Russian public schools.
At the reunion, alumni shared anecdotes about visiting theatre festivals, experiencing the daily life of a Russian family, the opportunity to work with Moscow-Southwest Artistic Director Valery Beliakovich and the immense impact the Russian exchange had on their academic, social and professional lives.
Filled with emotion, former UIC Theatre Director and coordinator of the Russian Exchange, Bill Raffeld made a special tribute to the memory of Valery Beliakovich, who was instrumental in making the Russian Exchange possible for UIC students.
The Director of UIC School of Theatre and Music, Christine Mary Dunford, reflected on her own experience studying abroad, meeting students with similar dreams and aspirations and the cultural impact it had for her while in college and in her life. Every few years she still gets together with her friends from her study abroad program to reminisce and catch up.
Since the days of the Russian Exchange Program, UIC School of Theatre and Music has continued to support international theatre studies at Èolia Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and the National University of Ireland Galway.
Recent alumni, Jesse Granato and Eli Newman shared their gratitude to the exchange programs offered at UIC and for the students and faculty who paved a way for UIC students to study abroad.
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