La Crosse, WI (WXOW)- If you want to learn about a foreign country or culture the best way to do so is to go to that country. That's the theory behind the Wisconsin International Student Experience. During the last 5 years, The La Crosse program has welcomed college students from our sister city in Dubna, Russia to live and work in the Coulee Region for the summer.
There's even one student who enjoyed the experience so much she came back for a second year.
Nastya began studying English when was just six years old. The now 20-year old thought she knew it well. "But when I came to the US I realized I didn't know English at all!"
Nastya is one of 7 Russian college students living and working in La Crosse through the Wisconsin International Student Experience or WISE program. The 3-month program is run by the US State Department and implemented by World Services of La Crosse. Operations Director Maureen Jameson says the program is two-fold; students like Nastya make a little money and learn a lot about English and American culture, and Maureen says people in La Crosse learn a lot about Russian culture. "I think we bring people in La Crosse closer to an understanding of cultures who might never have a chance to travel."
Maureen and her staff help the students find housing and employment. Coulee Bank, where Nastya is an assistant book keeper, has been on board with the program since it's start. Coulee Bank President Brad Sturm says the program benefits the students and his employees. "It's just an opportunity for our employees to understand that people are people".
Nastya enrolled in the program last year. She says she learned a lot and had so much fun, she decided to come back to La Crosse again this year. "The experience to work in another country is always good wherever you live. If you have an experience from another country its always very helpful."
After graduation Nastya wants to work for the Russian government. She's hopeful her La Crosse experience will give her a leg-up on the competition.
If you're a local business owner and you're interested hiring a Russian student for the summer contact Maureen at word services. 608-781-4197