SRAS Resume

The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) is a team of consultants and advisers dedicated to education and educational opportunities offered by Russia and Eurasia. Our team has studied within the Russian educational system and worked closely with institutions for many years to identify and develop programs of interest and value to international students. Contact us at: The School of Russian and Asian Studies, 117 Marva Oaks Drive, Woodside, CA 94062. 

What Educators
Say About Us

A professor led tour to Siberia!
Students on a
faculty-led program in Siberia.
What Students
Say About Us

SRAS students tour St. Petersburg
Above: Students on our walking tour of St. Pete!
  Financial Aid to Study Russian in Russia

Our Story

In 1990, we began working with Moscow State University to further develop and promote several of their study abroad programs. We expanded soon after, developing and promoting programs across Eurasia that maximize what the institution and location can offer students of a wide range of subjects.

Our often-exclusive curriculums are designed with Western credit transfer requirements in mind. Our partner institutions administer the programs, providing classrooms and teachers. SRAS provides those services that international students need but these institutions can't or historically haven't provided. These now include local orientation, insurance, visa support, 24-hour in-country support, preparing documentation for credit transfer, cultural programs, travel options, and arranging internships – to name a few.

We consolidated our efforts into what is now known as SRAS in 1996, forming a US-based organization and an extensive website to facilitate a range of not-for-profit activities. These now include free online study resources (such as The Library), online language resources (such as our Mini-Lesson series), a newsletter, a student blogging site, a journal devoted to student research, and grants – to name a few.

SRAS is proud to be one of a growing number of small businesses world-wide that are driven not by profit, but ideology. We are focused on effectively encouraging the study of Russia and those states formerly a part of the Soviet Union. This vast stretch of the globe is resource rich, politically strategic, and poorly understood in the West. We believe that encouraging a better understanding among the next generation of diplomats, business persons, UN and NGO employees, academics, and voters is of vital interest to us at home and in the global interest.

In its long-term growth plans, SRAS will continue to expand its services related to professor-led tours and in assisting academics traveling to perform research. Innovative new programs will continue to be developed inside and outside Russia in important fields such as regional, ethnic, and security studies. We also continue to develop our series of shorter study abroad experiences aimed at students, educators and enthusiasts.

Our Team

The School of Russian and Asian Studies is an international team. Each of us has personally studied within the Russian educational system and traveled within Eurasia, giving us first-hand knowledge of this specific geographic area. We've built relationships and a network of contacts that help our students not only with academic programs, but also to travel, seek jobs, pursue hobbies, and more – and not only while abroad, but long after the program ends. We at SRAS are here to help you realize the goals you set for yourself.

Renee Stillings traveling in Khiva, Uzbekistan  

Renee Stillings, Director
Renee first visited the Soviet Union in 1990 to study at MGU after graduating from Boston University with a BS in Biomedical Engineering. After working at a technical translation company in Boston, she returned to Moscow in 1992 for permanent residence until 1998. During that time she worked in the Russian financial markets and finally founded The School of Russian and Asian Studies as well as co-founded Alinga Consulting Group. She has traveled extensively in and continues to travel to Russia, Central Asia, and the Baltic countries. She is a board member of the US-Russia Chamber of Commerce of New England and active in several Russia-oriented business and academic organizations. After many years of living full- or part-time in Russia, she is now based in Woodside, CA. with her family.

Josh Wilson in the woods of rural Pereslavl, Russia.  

Josh Wilson, Asst. Director and General Editor
Josh first came to Russia in 2003 as an SRAS student after earning an MA in Theatre and a BA in History from Idaho State University. He has lived in Moscow, Russia ever since. After working as an English teacher, writer, and translator, Josh was hired by SRAS to assist in developing several new initiatives. Josh now manages the SRAS websites, assists in program development and leads our Home and Abroad Programs. He is also the editor of the SRAS newsletter, director of SRAS's Projects Initiative and the editor-in-chief for Vestnik: The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies. In addition, he serves as Communications Consultant to Alinga Consulting Group, a firm providing outsourced business support services such audit, accounting, and legal services.

Lisa Horner rides horseback in Kyrgyzstan.  

Lisa Horner, Program Consultant, Institutional Relations
Lisa, to the perplexity of her German-rooted family, graduated from Reed College with a BA in Russian Literature. After attending SRAS's Translation Abroad Program, she went on to accept positions with SRAS and  Alinga Consulting Group. Lisa was then promoted within SRAS and is now leading our institutional relations efforts, helping to develop new programs and partnerships. She is also the primary contact during the program selection process, helping students navigate the opportunities they have through SRAS relative to their academic, professional, and personal interests and objectives. She also studied previously at Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg and currently resides in Minneapolis, MN.

April Djakoniya on the Bank Bridge on Kanal Griboedova  

April Djakoniya, Student Services Manager
April Djakoniya decided to immerse herself in Russian language and culture during her second year at Georgetown University. She has taught English in Ekaterinburg, worked for an educational exchange in Moscow, and now serves as SRAS’s student coordinator in St. Petersburg. She also has extensive experience in the nonprofit and higher education fields. She hopes to help all students immerse themselves in the culture and discover their own unique connections with the city. April also volunteers with the St. Petersburg International Business Association where she explores her interest in creating opportunities to bring together businesses and nonprofits for great social impact. She holds an MS in Communications from Northwestern University.

Mai at Dostoevsky Museum   Meilin "Mei" Liou Zarnitsyna, Academic Oversight Manager and Production Editor
Mei holds a BA in Philosophy from Boston University and is ABD in the PhD program in Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She took up Russian as a hobby in graduate school and, after completing SRAS's Translation Abroad program, moved to St. Petersburg, where she lived and worked as a translator, editor, freelance writer, writing coach, and English teacher. Mei has taught university and high school students (in Philosophy, English, Film Studies, Russian, and German) since 2007. She enjoys helping students to sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills, use writing to deepen their study abroad experience, and find their voices. Besides St. Petersburg, she has also lived in Berlin and Kangshan, Taiwan. She is currently based in Chicago, with her husband and their cat, Begemot.  

Sergey Fedorov, St. Petersburg Culture Coordinator
Sergei was born and raised in Siberia. He graduated from the Department of Philology at St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) State University with degrees in English Language and English and American Literature. He worked for a few years as a teacher of English in a secondary school before becoming a licensed tour guide, which has been his primary profession for the last two decades. Sergei loves living in St. Petersburg's "suburbs" – combining an active country life with all the opportunities that a big, cultural city offers. He is a great fan of the Russian banya and enjoys cross-country skiing. 

Andrei Nesterov braving St. Petersburg in winter.

Andrei Nesterov, Writer, Internship Coordinator
Andrei Nesterov has reported on political and social issues for the Russian press as well as American outlets such as Russian Life,, and Triangle Free Press. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the "real Russia" which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and went on to study TESOL and teach Russian at West Virginia University. He is currently working on an MA from St. Petersburg State in International Relations. Andrei contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS site, and is an overall linguistics and research resource. He additionally helps coordinate activities for our students in Moscow.

Elena Varshavskaya in front of the Arno River in Italy  

Elena Varshavskaya, Art Program Director
Elena holds a Ph.D. in art history from the Institute of Fine Art at the State Academy of Art in Moscow. Having worked for the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg as a researcher and lecturer for over two decades, Elena moved to the US where she now teaches art history at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Eastern Connecticut State University. Her course offerings embrace European, Russian and Asian art with the emphasis on the early 20th century Russian art and Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. A published author and an exhibition curator, at SRAS Elena directs the program Art & Museums in Russia hosted by the Hermitage each summer.

14876409_10154417937280860_1124164046915143117_o   Mikhail Rybalko, Irkutsk Student Coordinator
Mikhail Rybalko graduated from Texas Tech University in 2014 with a PhD in Political Science. He also holds a Russian Candidate’s Degree in History from Irkutsk State University. Mikhail has also studied in New Zealand, Hungary, and Lithuania. He is currently an instructor in History and International Relations at Irkutsk State University. He actively participates in the life of Irkutsk, being a member of a number of ethnic and civil organizations. Mikhail is widely traveled and is very enthusiastic about introducing Russian cultural life to the SRAS students. Mikhail is coordinating SRAS student arrivals, travels, and activities in Irkutsk.

Tanya-Nguyen   Tanya Nguyen, Vladivostok Student Coordinator
Tanya graduated from Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service with an International Relations degree. As a university student, she volunteered for the VSUES International Office for three years. Tanya’s native language is Vietnamese, but she fluently speaks Russian, English, and is learning Korean. She now works in the International Programs Department and coordinates SRAS student services in Vladivostok. Her key responsibilities are students’ orientation and adaptation, excursion programs, and cultural activities. She loves to work with foreign students and visiting scholars and delegates, contributing to the development of VSUES international relations.
Kendje Aitikeeva at work in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  

Kendje Aitikeeva, Advisor, Bishkek Coordinator
Kendje holds an MA in Linguistics from Kyrgyz Humanitarian University and a BA in Teaching English from Kyrgyz English College. She is also a certified teacher of Russian as a Foreign Language. She has traveled extensively, including to the United States, and enjoys meeting people participating in cross-cultural projects. Kendje co-founded and has served as the director of the London School of Bishkek since 1998 and has been involved in education in the former Soviet Union since 1986. She now serves as an advisor to SRAS on Central Asia and oversees and manages our Central Asian programs.

Our Publications

youtube serves as a platform for discussing history and current events within the grounded context of geography, economics, and public opinion. PopkultV2_sq PopKult covers the popular cultures of Eurasia, providing short introductions to to popular singers, movies, tv shows, cartoons, and even popular local foods.
MSALogoSmall Museum Studies Abroad explores the museums, high culture, and public spaces of Eurasia and the roles they play in Eurasian societies. Students-Abroad---Projects-Students Abroad covers study, travel, and volunteering abroad as well as the resume-building applications that those activities afford.  

SRAS free monthly newsletterNewsletter
A free monthly publication delivering all new material on our site for the month: articles and interviews, news and analysis, the Russian pop charts, and free Russian lessons.

Vestnik, The Journal of Russian and Asian StudiesVestnik, The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies
An academic journal publishing the best of student research on subjects relevant to Russia or Eurasia.


SRAS and its team are actively involved with organizations dedicated to the study of Eurasia and its languages. We are also members and participants in various organizations dedicated to promoting cultural and business ties between Russia and the West.


AATSEEL: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages exists to advance the study and promote the teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures, and cultures on all educational levels


ASEEES: The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), a nonprofit, non-political, scholarly society, is the leading private organization in the world dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about the former Soviet Union (including Eurasia) and Eastern and Central Europe. ASEEES, known as the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies until 2010, supports teaching, research, and publication relating to the peoples and territories within this area.


An education that includes
study abroad not only opens doors to careers,
it opens minds
and worlds of possibility.

This quote is taken from a speech given by Senator Richard Durbin on the floor of the Senate, as he urged other members to pass S. Res. 308, declaring 2006 "The Year of Study Abroad." SRAS believes in Senator Durbin's words and thinks every year should be a "Year of Study Abroad."