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I became interested in international politics and Eastern Europe during my senior year at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School in southeastern

Massachusetts. A year later, I moved to Ohio to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Russian and East European Studies at Oberlin College. During my time at Oberlin, my interest in foreign languages led me to study Russian and do an independent study in Persian as a Winter Term project. I also continued to pursue my passion in music, participating in several vocal performances in Russian and other Eurasian languages. After a semester in Moscow and extensive traveling around Western Russia, I decided to focus my final year of undergraduate study on Russian policies in the North Caucasus. After graduation, I returned to Russia on a Fulbright Grant to teach English in Chelyabinsk at South Ural State University and at a summer camp in Bashkortostan. During the following year, I worked in the North Caucasian republics of Adygeya and Karachaievo-Cherkessia to teach English and Spanish and record a studio album of folk songs in several languages including Circassian and Chechen. I chose CERES as my ideal program for a Masters because of its extensive regional focus from Central and Eastern Europe to Central Asia, and its location in Washington, DC. Through the course of my studies, I have refined my career interests to the private sector and the international business field, while maintaining my geographical concentration of the Caucasus and Central Asia. I aim for a career related to inter-cultural relations in international business and political risk analysis. Outside of my core CERES classes, I have been involved in the activities run by the Azerbaijani Studies Group. I have also continued to work on projects with connections back in Adygeya, including a collaborative project to distribute and market recordings of Circassian musicians in the United States and efforts to build American connections for a local startup clothing enterprise. I also hope to find time to continue singing.

Helen Burns - 2015