Where are my students now?

Having a great deal of positive feedback from my adult students recently made me wonder about the lives of my former undergraduate and graduate students — what happened to them? Have any of them made into the field of linguistics? After all, there’s nothing more important for a teacher than the students’ success! Here are some stories:

Matt Tucker, was my undergraduate student at Cornell (a picture of me teaching that class hangs on my office wall!), went on to do an MA and a PhD at UC Santa Cruz, graduated in 2013, now an Assistant Professor in Linguistics at Oakland University.

Byron T. Ahn, was my undergraduate student at Cornell, went on to do an MA and a PhD in Linguistics at UCLA, graduated in 2015, now an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Princeton.

Claire Harpert, was my undergraduate student at Yale, went on to do a PhD in Linguistics at MIT, graduated in 2012, is now an Associate Professor in Linguistics at the University of Minnesota.

Doug Ball, my graduate student at Stanford, graduated in 2009, now an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Truman State University.

Russian history class: Perestroika and the dissolution of the USSR

Today’s lecture in my Russian history Delphians’ class was about the perestroika and the dissolution/implosion of the USSR. One of the students did a wonderfully touching paper on the Chernobyl catastrophe based on Svetlana Alexievich’s book. We talked about Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign, “acceleration” (ускорение), glasnost’, the rise of Boris Yeltsin, the independence movement in Ukraine and the Baltics, the August Putsch, and more. Below is my visual “Table of Contents” for the lecture.

I closed with a quote from Norman Davies’ Vanished Kingdoms (pp. 724-725):

The Soviet system was built on extreme force and extreme fraud. Practically everything that Lenin and the Leninists did was accompanied by killing; practically everything they said was based on half-baked theories, a total lack of integrity and huge, barefaced lies […] When a general secretary finally came along who was no longer prepared to perpetuate the fantasies and the coercion, all the circuits fused, and total paralysis rapidly ensued.

Experiencing Russia through film: “Cranes are flying”

Today’s film in my Russian film class was “Cranes are flying”.


It’s a powerful masterpiece! I had several students crying right after the film. We had a fascinating and enthusiastic discussion afterwards. Many of the students noticed things that I wanted them to notice, particularly some symbolic imagery and links between scenes, and some even saw things I never picked up on. One of the students remarked that, coming from an American perspective, it was amazing to see a Soviet film that is so nuanced, so complex and so artistic. I am ever so pleased with the class!