2017 Alaska Curiosity Scholarship Winner
Congratulations to our 2017 Kelley & Canterbury, LLC Alaska Curiosity Scholarship, Anastasia Erickson!
One problem that I am dedicated to solving is the issue regarding decreased support in the language programs and bilingualism in the Anchorage School District. I come from a home where I was raised Russian and American. What I mean by that is I grew up knowing both languages, both cultures, both cuisines, both rules of morality and ethics. I can personally testify that being bilingual has had nothing but a positive on my life. This is the driving force for me behind promoting bilingualism, more specifically the Russian Immersion Program. My mom became a Russian teacher the same year I enrolled in the program, which we also like to call MIR— Mission in Russian. Since then, I have always done everything I can to invest my time in promoting and supporting the program.
Over the span of the thirteen years that I have been involved, I have volunteered to organize, coordinate, and set up for events that the Russian Immersion Program holds for fundraising purposes, I have regularly visited Turnagain Elementary School and worked with the students to develop their Russian speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, I have been the President of the Russian Graduation Committee for my class which also served as an opportunity to motivate and inspire the Russian speaking classes below me to continue with the language. It’s always been so important to me that children see how being bilingual benefits them in and out of school and helps them stand out from other students.
Studies show that: bilingualism is associated with a decreased likelihood of dropping out of high school and an increased probability of obtaining a higher status job and higher annual earnings; bilingual education can have positive effects on intergroup relationships, identity, and self-esteem; bilingualism is associated with cognitive benefits such as increased control over attention, improved working memory, greater awareness of the structure and form of language, and better abstract and symbolic representation skills; bilingualism delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Goldenberg, Claude, and Kirstin Wagner. “Reviving an American Tradition.” Bilingual Education. American Federation of Teachers, 2015. Web. 16 June 2017).
Bilingualism prepares students to be culturally aware thinkers in a competitive world stage. It promotes different methods of learning and has been proven to enhance knowledge-obtaining abilities in children just after a few lessons in another language. I will continue to volunteer for and stay involved in the Russian Immersion Program and in promoting other bilingual programs in the ASD because I am dedicating in building a brighter future for the generations of creative and compassionate children to come.