This August, the World Languages and Cultures department welcomed Lidiia Nikolaevna Novichkova into the Mercyhurst community for the 2018-19 school year.
Novichkova hails from Tyumen, a major city in Siberia, Russia.
Before coming to Mercyhurst, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and a master’s degree in Teaching Foreign Language from the University of Tyumen.
Following her graduation, she joined the university faculty, becoming a teacher of English there. Novichkova is currently working on a Ph.D. in Cognitive Linguistics, focusing on the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Novichkova is one of 38 Russian Fulbright scholars coming to United States institutions to share their language and culture this year. She will be joined at Mercyhurst by her fellow Fulbright scholar from Morocco, Elhoucine Amouzoun.
The Fulbright Program is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and gives teachers from around the world the opportunity to attend classes here and to share their skills with students in the U.S. Mercyhurst has been welcoming Fulbright scholars since 2014. As well as having them teach their languages and take classes, these young professionals are also encouraged to offer conversation groups and administer programs that can add to the cultural diversity of the school.
Mercyhurst typically receives two scholars from abroad each year, generally a Russian and Moroccan student. American students also have the opportunity to apply to go abroad themselves.
Novichkova spent time last year at the Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota, a cultural immersion program for American youth, and decided to participate in the Fulbright program to return to the U.S.
“Mercyhurst was my first choice, and I was happy to be placed here,” Novichkova said. “I felt I needed to know more about American culture because I’m not just teaching the English language but also the culture to my students.”
For the fall semester, Novichkova will be teaching Intermediate Russian I as well as Contemporary Readings in Russian, within the Russian Studies department.
In addition, she is taking classes on Navajo Ethnology and Creative Writing along with other Mercyhurst students.
“I’m most excited about sharing my culture. It’s my main mission,” Novichkova said.
She has already joined the Mercyhurst International Students Organization and looks forward to getting to know more international and domestic students around campus through cultural involvement.
Aside from sharing her culture, she will also have the opportunity to share her academic knowledge. Novichkova was invited by a member of the Philosophy department faculty to be a guest lecturer on Dostoevsky for a Philosophical Existentialism class in the next few weeks, where she will share her extensive knowledge on the author and his works.
In her spare time, Novichkova enjoys making all types of arts and crafts, including watercolor paintings, patchwork dolls and needlepoint designs, which often reflect her personal experiences with traditional Russian artwork and culture. Her artwork was central to her experience working at the Concordia Language Villages, as she loves being able to share her talent and interests with others. “I hope to do art here as well,” Novichkova said. “Anyone can come to Preston 207 to ask something or share something. I am a walking Russian ambassador.”
Her highest priority during her time here is engaging with the students and staff at Mercyhurst throughout the coming year.
She also gives an open invitation to anyone interested in Russian language or culture to stop by her office or to get involved with the Russian club, which will be starting regular meetings soon.