Experiential Learning Practicum

Individual Lives, Common Story

This supplemental practicum course is designed to provide students with hands-on experience conducting oral histories fieldwork at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and engaging in a much needed community service benefiting Russian-speaking elders. The practicum is based on the principles of experiential learning (EL), which emphasize connecting the knowledge received in the classroom to the real-life issues that exist in our society, and allowing students to reflect on the knowledge gained from real-life experiences.

The goal of the course will be the exploration of life experiences of the generation of Russian speakers who survived WWII, experienced various forms of anti-Semitism in the post-war Soviet Union, and eventually immigrated to the U.S. The project is designed to bridge the intergenerational gap between Russian-speaking seniors and youths in order to generate the exchange of valuable wisdom and strengthen community.

The Experiential Learning Practicum was supported by the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry (BGI).


The practicum is open to both heritage and traditional students at the advanced level of language proficiency (at least five semesters of Russian language). For more information about course design, academic credit and registration details, please contact the Professor Irina Dubinina, director of the Russian Language Program.

2014 and 2015 EL Practicum

Both the Spring 2014 and Spring 2015 EL Practicum culminated in student visits to the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Brookline, Massachusetts for a celebration of May 9, Victory Day over Nazi Germany. For Russians of the war generation, this day is the most significant holiday of the year. Brandeis students who participated in the EL Practicum presented the elderly HRC residents whom they interviewed during the semester with flowers and books comprised of the residents' recorded life stories. The celebration included waltzes and songs of the WWII era.

We also encourage you to read student reflections about the EL Practicum.