Daniel Richardson

Daniel RIchardson

I arrived at Miami in 2014 with a vague inclination of my prospective college path; I thought I’d be studying engineering, but quickly realized I wasn’t passionate about the field. After a semester I decided to pursue International Studies, because of a love of history, and minor in German, because of my upbringing with the language. Both programs offered me a challenging and exciting course load. Miami’s German program didn’t just help me develop a better language skill, but it quite literally helped me see the world. I spent the summer of 2015 in Germany with Dr. Jeep and other students on the summer intensive program. It was an unforgettable summer traveling, meeting great people, and utilizing language skills I had developed over the past year.

Back in Oxford, I was surprised by the variety of subjects taught in our higher-level German classes. We discussed the language and history, but also the cultural artifacts of German culture such as television shows, poetry, fairy tales, current events, and literature. My favorite class was centered on the representation of nature in German literature. Due to my more politically focused degree, it was a rare opportunity to explore these themes.

During my sophomore year, at the recommendation of my academic advisor, I started taking Russian. I remember how intimidated and excited I was when I left her office. It had never occurred to me to take another language, as I still had a lifelong journey ahead of me with German. It was a humbling experience studying Russian, but the professors were supportive and patient to a student slowly working his way through the pronunciation. A favorite of my Russian coursework was Dr. Goncharenko-Rose’s Soviet and post-Soviet film class. We sampled over 30 Soviet and Russian films. This class provided a good use of our developing language skills and a great introduction to excellent filmmaking. I kept all the lists of films she recommended and still watch one from time to time.

My interest in the Russian language transferred into other subjects. The history, politics, and literature of the Russian Imperial and Soviet era were perfect avenues to explore. Serendipity struck as well as my junior year I needed to pick a concentration for my International Studies degree. With my interest shifting east to Russia, I picked a concentration in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia. Even more fortuitous, the classes on the study focus area directed me to the Havighurst Center for Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies. A unique center for regional Russian study, with outstanding primary documents from Russian and Soviet history, which happened to be located in Oxford, Ohio. I ended up taking the Havighurst colloquium my senior year, studying the intimacies of political life of post-Soviet states with Dr. Klumbytė which was another one of my favorite courses in college.

After graduating from Miami in December 2018, I interned at The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA. The Carter Center is President Carter’s non-profit which seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. I then joined the Center’s Democracy Program to help observe elections in Tunisia and Guyana. I now work as a Program Assistant for the Center’s Digital Threats to Democracy and Elections Integrity initiative. We monitor the impact of social media on election processes, analyze the impact of political advertising, and monitor hate speech online. Though German and Russian sparingly come up in my work, the skills and knowledge I gained are always relevant as they helped me become open to different cultures, customs and ways of seeing the world.