Congratulations to RAF's 2020 NSLI-Y Virtual Summer Intensive finalists for a successful summer of Russian language and culture studies! RAF was proud to welcome this year's participants from all across the United States to engage them in this important and valuable journey. For the summer of 2020, RAF collaborated with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, American Councils for International Education, and all of its long-standing NSLI-Y partners to be able to offer participants a virtual language learning and cultural exchange experience from July 6 - August 7.

NSLI-Y Russian Language & Culture RAF & Bolshoi Way

2021 Information Coming Soon! 

For the eleventh year in a row, the Russian American Foundation was selected as an implementing organization for the highly prestigious NSLI FOR YOUTH Scholarships to Study Language Abroad Program. 

This acclaimed full-scholarship program allows RAF to send academically high-achieving students of ballet to Moscow on a unique experience that combines Russian language instruction, cultural immersion, and ballet training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.  The NSLI FOR YOUTH program recognizes participants’ academic merit and interest in Russian language and culture. No prior Russian language experience is necessary to be considered.

Candidates must be enrolled and in good standing at all times in the 2020 BBASI NY Program. RAF's NSLI-Y Program immediately follows the first 3-week BBASI NY session.

RAF’s NSLI-Y Program combines RAF’s mission of promoting non-partisan bilateral dialogue and the goals of the NSLI FOR YOUTH program, as relating to Russia:

  • To improve the ability of Americans to engage with the people of Russian-speaking countries through shared language

  • To develop a cadre of Americans with advanced linguistic skills and related cultural understanding who are able to use their linguistic and cultural skills to advance international dialogue and compete effectively in the global economy

  • To spark a lifetime interest in foreign languages and cultures among American youth

Read about the experience from RAF's NSLI-Y Alumni:

For questions please contact:

Jade Direnfeld - Coordinating Director, NSLI-Y & Bolshoi PREP

212 687 6118 x 201

For comprehensive details about the general NSLI FOR YOUTH program, visit the official NSLI-Y website. For answers to some of the questions we received from you, click on this Ask Us Anything Page. For additional information regarding RAF’s NSLI-Y Program, visit the FAQ Page.

“I can’t stress enough how important these exchanges are in building a strong relationship between our countries… These exchanges provide academic opportunities for students in all fields. But indirectly, they also help to undermine stereotypes."

-- Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Michael McFaul


Program Details

NSLI FOR YOUTH, a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students and recent high school graduates to learn less commonly taught languages.

The NSLI-Y RAF & Bolshoi Way program offers a unique opportunity to acquire Russian language skills, cultural competency, and augment one’s ballet training through in-class language instruction, authentic cultural activities, host family stays, and ballet training at

July 11 – August 22, 2020

6-week Program in Moscow, Russia 

(starting after 1st Session of BBASI NY)

Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Weekday language classes, 4 hours/day, and individual assignments provide a formal environment for participants to study Russian language. In-class instruction is supplemented by off-site activities designed to increase participants’ knowledge of the culture, society, and people of modern-day Russia. RAF’s program is unique as participants also train 3 hours/day with teachers at the world-renowned Moscow State Academy of Choreography (MGAKh), known as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

During the week, participants reside in the dormitories of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. On weekends, participants live with host families where they have the opportunity to become immersed in the rich Russian traditions, practice their linguistic skills, and experience local culture firsthand. Host families often take participants to city sites, parks, markets, and even to the dacha (a weekend summer house in the outskirts of the city).  They also involve participants in family events and traditions such as cooking, birthday celebrations, movie nights, and other events and activities part of local life.

The nature of the NSLI-Y program encourages participants to explore the city of Moscow on their own, in addition to the cultural program organized by RAF. Some of the opportunities provided by RAF in previous years have included:

  • Meeting with foreign service officers at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow

  • Masterclasses and gallery tours with world-renowned Russian artists

  • Performances of Moscow’s theaters and ballet companies

  • Restaurant outings for authentic Russian cuisine

Participants strive to succeed both academically, by improving their language skills, and culturally, by gaining an understanding and appreciation for their host country. Participants are expected to fully immerse themselves in the local experience and will not be allowed to participate in any academic work for their U.S. school while abroad. Participants should also be prepared to demonstrate open-mindedness, flexibility, and initiative in negotiating the cross-cultural environment, including conditions and circumstances significantly different from those in their home country. NSLI FOR YOUTH is a rigorous program and participants should expect to have homework and exams.

Location and On-Program Supervision

Moscow is one of the most dynamic cities in the world.  Similar to New York, it is a big city and, therefore, regular awareness, common sense, and caution are expected from all participants at all times.  All Participants in the Program are expected to be mature and responsible, be able to function independently,  understand the inherent risks involved in overseas travel, understand the rigorous nature of the Program, and comply with all rules, laws, and regulations of the Program and the overseas host country and hosts.


In addition to organized and chaperoned activities, participants are encouraged to explore Moscow on their own. Attendance at all Program activities and adherence to the curfew is mandatory.  The Resident Advisor will accompany the group on the overseas trip, will reside with the group at the Academy residency, and will be available to participants for overall guidance and 24/7 emergency assistance. Resident Advisor will not accompany participants during their free time, individual activities, and/or during their stays at host families.

The Bolshoi Ballet Academy is located in the heart of Moscow, with sites like Red Square, Old Arbat, Gorky Park, and many others easily accessible. The host families are spread throughout the Moscow metro-area and different neighborhoods. While no participant is allowed to travel beyond Moscow and its surrounding suburbs, host families are encouraged to introduce participants to the diversity of Moscow’s neighborhoods, from the city center to dachas on the outskirts of the city.

Suggested Links

While in many respects Moscow is like the big cities in the U.S., there are country-specific risks all should be aware of. Below are important links that will assist candidates and their families to understand some of the specific risks, advisories, and recommendations relevant to travel to Russia:



Eligibility Requirements:

An applicant MUST meet the following general requirements:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen

  • Have a valid U.S. passport at the time of application

  • Enrolled in High School (grades 9-12, including home school) at the time of application

  • For 2020 summer programs: birth date between July 10, 2001 and June 10, 2005

  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, or the equivilant

  • Abide by U.S. Department of State Eligibility Policy for American Outbound Youth Programs

    • Not an immediate family member of an employee of the U.S. Department of State - Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs or an employee at a NSLI for YOUTH administering organization whose duties involve the NSLI-Y Program

    • Have not previously traveled abroad on a long-term (more than eight-week) program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

    • Have not participated in an NSLI for Youth summer program previously

Program Specific Requirements:
  • Participants must be enrolled and in good standing at all times in the 2020 BBASI NY Program

  • Participants must be at a beginner level in Russian language study

  • Participants cannot have dual U.S. – Russian citizenship, or have been born in Russia

  • Any semi-finalist who is being considered as a finalist will be required to provide and complete additional documentation including, but not limited to: Scholarship Acceptance Forms, Participant Agreement, medical evaluation, registration in the U.S. Department of State Program website, and others as required.

  • By applying to the RAF NSLI-Y Program, all participants and their families agree to abide by the laws, rules, and regulations of the United States, the NSLI-Y Program, and RAF. Additionally, by applying to the RAF NSLI-Y Program, all participants and their families agree to abide by the laws, rules, and regulations of the Russian Federation, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, and Foreign Hosts.

Is NSLI-Y Right For You?

To learn more if the NSLI-Y RAF and Bolshoi Way program is the right opportunity for you:

 - read RAF's NSLI-Y Program FAQ Page

-  visit the official NSLI-Y website



2021 information coming soon!
Fill out the Notification of Intended Application Form to receive the latest information on the application process!
July 11 – August 22, 2020

6-week Program in Moscow, Russia 

(starting after 1st Session of BBASI NY)

2020 Application Process:
  1. Applicant must be enrolled and in good standing at all times in 2020 BBASI NY to participate (finalists enrolled in the BBASI NY 6-week session will be switched to Session I and refunded any BBASI NY enrollment payments for the 2nd 3-weeks)

  2. To start the application process, Applicant must complete Notification of Intended Application Form.

  3. Applicant’s enrollment in BBASI NY will be verified and further instructions will be emailed within about a week from the Submission of Intended Application,.

  4. Applicant will be expected to submit the following application materials by the deadlines stated below:

Due Online to NSLI-Y*

March 13, 2020 - 4:00 PM EST
*The NSLI-Y Online application link will be sent to applicants who have 

submitted the Notification of Intended Application Form and once they have enrolled, in good standing, in the BBASI NY program.

  • Online Application Form completed by the applicant.

  • Terms and Conditions Form signed by applicant and all parents/legal guardians.

  • Parent/legal guardian statement

  • RAF written application

  • Supplemental essays

  • Two (2) Teacher recommendation letters

  • Copy of valid U.S. passport* (image must be clear and in color / passport must be signed)

  • Grade Transcripts: sent by School Registrar or Home School Supervisor.

Received in hard copy by RAF 

March 13, 2020 - 4:00 PM EST
ATTN: Jade Direnfeld / NSLI-Y Program
Russian American Foundation
1560 Broadway, Suite 500 New York, NY 10036


The Selection Committee will review all applications, conduct phone interviews with semi-finalists, and will make final determinations in late April 2020. Determinations will be made based on the following criteria: a) exhibited interest in Russian language and Russian culture, b) academic excellence, c) demonstrated maturity. The Selection Committee reserves the right to award extra consideration to applicants who have demonstrated maturity and dedication during past enrollment in RAF’s BBASI Programs. However, all 2020 BBASI NY students are encouraged to apply for the RAF NSLI-Y Program.


Testimonials & Videos from Alumni and their Families

“The program enriched and affected my daughter's skills above expectation. The team work, confidence, leadership, global awareness - all these values are priceless and will have a huge influence on her future life.” 

– NSLI-Y Parent

“This program has really opened my eyes to a wider world and has made me excited to travel even more after it finishes. I feel I can take on the world and overcome many more obstacles now. I have discovered that I have been able to navigate and adapt to the culture shock, making me more confident and reassured in myself as a person. ”

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 15 yo, OH


“The experience was life changing for our daughter. She has a more focused attitude towards her college search and a stronger comfort level as to what direction she would like to move towards career wise."

– NSLI - Y Parent


“Although dancing at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy was a dream come true, the time I spent with my host mom totally changed my outlook on the world. Getting a first-hand look into the Russian culture made me appreciate just how wonderfully diverse our world is! 

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 17 yo, FL

“What an amazing life changing opportunity for my son. It has exploded his world view and increased his curiosity about other cultures … he is well suited and prepared to go in any direction he chooses. Moscow is now at the forefront his daily thoughts, both culturally and politically.” 

– NSLI-Y Parent

"Living with Russians and experiencing their everyday lives has allowed me to understand Russia a little bit better. Overall, I feel more educated, worldly, and compassionate.”

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 18 yo, CA

“The experience our daughter had as a young person in Russia, with such unique opportunities to experience the language and culture, will influence her whole life.”

– NSL-Y Parent


“This trip has opened so many doors for me. I never had seriously thought of a career in a language but now it is a priority of mine.”

– RAF NSLI-Y Alum, 16 yo, VA


Congratulations to the 2020 NSLI-Y VSI Finalists!

  • Julianna Aguja, MA

  • Alexandra Baron, MI

  • Kevin Bernabe, IL

  • Rachel Bina, PA

  • Abigail Blackburn, MO

  • Nicolas Casey, NY

  • Diana Chu, NY 

  • Tyler Duchynski, CA 

  • Douglas Dyer, FL

  • George Dyer, FL 

  • Noah, Frazier, AZ

  • Dylan Gunn, NY

  • Cailin Holajter, KY 

  • Tyler Huang, CA

  • Tatum Huber, CA

  • Sana Lee, NY

  • David Mock, IL

  • Daria Nastasia, MO

  • Sawyer Niehaus, NY 

  • Aika Noguchi,  IN

  • James O'Reilly, UT

  • Audrey Ostoyich, MD

  • Annika Petrikin, KS

  • Lydia Pigott, TX

  • Milo Powell, OK

  • Sophie Rice, KS

  • Isabella Romine, NC 

  • Nora Rosario, DC

  • Hannah Scalzo, CA

  • Saffron Schleusner, IA

  • Pratik Shah, AZ

  • Savannah Sherman, WA

  • Katrianna Smith, CA

  • Ryan Stone, CA

  • Kennedy Streuer, LA

  • Zonya Tanada, WA

  • Eleanor Ward, NE

  • Abby Zhang, MI

  • Emma Zhou, TX



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Russian American Foundation, Inc.

1560 Broadway #500, New York, NY 10036

Tel: 212-687-6118 ext. 201

Listed programs based in the United States are a partnership between New York based Russian American Foundation (“RAF”) and Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy (“Academy”). The Programs are operated by RAF, based on a ballet curriculum designed by the Academy and taught by its ballet teachers. Unless otherwise expressly stated, RAF has no affiliation with other programs operated or sponsored by the Academy in Russia or other parts of the world. The Programs are not formally affiliated with Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet Company.  PROGRAM DETAILS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE


*NSLI-Y is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, implemented by the Russian American Foundation in Moscow, Russia in collaboration with local independent entities in Russia and U.S. Program implementation is subject to available funding of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  PROGRAM DETAILS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

© 2018 by Bolshoi Ballet Academy