Oscar Swan, PhD

Academic and Founding Director

University of Pittsburgh

Oscar Swan founded SLI in 1988, during his tenure as the Chairman of the Department of Slavic Languages. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Polish, Russian, and Slavic linguistics and pedagogy, and on Polish culture and cultural history. His Polish language website and online dictionary are cutting-edge, and his language textbooks and bicycle guides are his claim to fame.

Kathleen Manukyan, PhD

Managing Director and Coordinator of Russian Program

University of Pittsburgh

Katie Manukyan has taught all levels of Russian language and culture at the University of Pittsburgh since 2011. She has worked at SLI every summer since 2011, first as an instructor, then a director. Katie did her doctoral work in Slavic Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University, where she taught Russian language, Czech language, and Russian literature. Her research interests  are Russian Romanticism, phonetics, opera and dance, and Gogol. Originally from northern Virginia, her travels have taken her to Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Armenia. She lived in Moscow for two years, where she studied Russian language and music performance, and she still actively maintains a career in opera performance.

Ljiljana Durasković, PhD

Program Director, East European and Near Eastern Languages; Instructor of Beginning and Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian

University of Pittsburgh

Ljiljana did her doctoral work in Slavic Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University, where she taught Russian and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. During the academic year she teaches Russian and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian at the University of Pittsburgh and is the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She has been with SLI for 14 years, where she teaches all levels of BCS and is the director of East European and Near Eastern Languages Program. Ljiljana is a certified OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) tester for both Russian and BCS.

Maher Al-Khateeb, MEd

Beginning Arabic

University of Kentucky

Maher is a PhD student in the Instructional Systems Design in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky. He came from Jordan to the United States in 2006 as a Fulbright visiting scholar of Arabic language and culture at the University of Kentucky. He is an instructor of the Arabic language and culture at the University of Kentucky where he has taught all levels of Arabic language courses with a focus on Modern Standard Arabic and the Levantine dialect. His teaching experience is not limited to teaching at the college level, but also teaching high school students at the Gearup Summer Academy Program in Kentucky. This is his fifth summer teaching Arabic at the SLI at the University of Pittsburgh. 


Biljana Amidovic

Beginning and Intermediate Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian

University of Montenegro

Biljana was trained as a secondary school English teacher and teaches at a High School in Niksic, Montenegro—a small country on the Adriatic famous for its natural beauty. She has been teaching Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian at the Beginning and Intermediate levels in SLI since 2007 and is the site coordinator of the Pitt-Montenegro program.

Tatjana Balażic Bulc, PhD

Intermediate and Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian

University of Ljubljana

Tatjana is an assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana. She teaches Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and South Slavic Societies and Cultures at the Department of Slavistics, Faculty of Arts, and has 18 years of experience in foreign language teaching at the university level. She is also developing and coordinating BA and MA study program South Slavic Studies. Her research interests are discourse analysis, academic discourse, and sociolinguistics. In 2019 Tatjana was a guest lecturer at the SLI.

Aleksey Berg, PhD

Advanced and 4th Year Russian

College of New Jersey

Dr. Berg was born in St. Petersburg, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics. He has lived and worked in the United States for almost twenty years, teaching Russian language and culture at Boston College, Middlebury College, MIT, and the University of South Carolina. After he received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2013, he has worked at the University of Pennsylvania and, most recently, at the College of New Jersey where he has served as Director of Russian Studies since 2016. 2020 will be Dr. Berg's first summer at SLI, and he is very excited to offer his services to the program. He will be teaching Russian 4, a content course that serves as a comprehensive introduction to key issues in contemporary Russian social, political, and economic life. In his spare time Dr. Berg enjoys reading, hiking, and playing with his cat.

Šárka Boušková Vašíčková, PhD

Intermediate and Advanced Czech

Charles University of Prague

Sarka received a Master's degree in Education from the University of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. Her teaching career began in 2000 when she started teaching History and English at the Literary Grammar School in Prague. After travelling the world, studying in London and Madrid, she completed her PhD in Modern History at the Charles University of Prague and later on studied BA Programme in the Department of Romance Studies and the Spanish Department, also at the Charles University of Prague. Her history research interests are Czech communities living in Commonwealth Countries and in South America. She was working for Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic in Argentina in Buenos Aires as the Community Teacher of Czech as a Foreign Language, and as a Community Program Coordinator. Since 2011 she has been working at the Institute for Language and Professional Preparatory of Charles University of Prague as a Teacher of Czech Language (basic and intermediate level). She is also in charge of Academic International Programs and the lecturer of History subjects. Sarka enjoys languages.

Zhanna Budenkova

Intermediate Russian

University of Pittsburgh

Zhanna is a PhD student in Film Studies and Slavic at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her MA from Ruhr-Universität in Germany. Her research interests cover early Soviet cinema and science fiction films in the USSR. She is also working on the topic of body politics in Russian protest art. Her professional background includes journalism and involvement with documentary film production.

Evgeniya Dudina

Advanced Russian

Evgeniya Dudina is a Russian instructor at the Middlebury Program in Moscow and at the Moscow Higher School of Economics. She has also taught in the US under the auspices of the international scholar program at Dickinson College, and this will be her fourth summer at SLI! She has developed Russian language courses for universities in Russia, Italy, Korea, and the US, and has a particular passion for Russian grammar (it’s true). Evgeniya hails from the Russian Far East, and in addition to her work with Russian language, she is pursuing a degree in cultural anthropology; her research focuses on an indigenous group from her home region. She is also a research partner in an EU program (LICCI) studying the effects of climate change on indigenous populations. In COVID lockdown in St. Petersburg, she is learning German online, adventuring in cooking, and going on long walks. She’s looking forward to working with SLI students very soon!

Ewa Grondal, MA

Advanced Polish

Szkoła Języków Obcych Prolog

Amoureuse of French language and literature, an eternal love which has lasted many, many years, with a Master of Arts from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She found another passion when she came back to Poland in 2010 – teaching Polish for Foreigners. From then on, she works very close with Prolog Language School in Cracow, a Polish school which hosts students from Pittsburgh every summer. She loves … languages, grammar (yes!), theater, drama classes and cooking. She would rather bake you a clafoutis - a French pie because she does not how to make pierogi. Currently, she teaches French Literature in IB Programme, business French, and Polish at all levels.

Renáta Kamenárová, PhD

Beginning and Intermediate Slovak

Comenius University

Renáta is a specialist in foreign language instruction affiliated with the School of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava. She served in the Studia Academica Slovaca - Center for Slovak as a Foreign Language program for many years and is the lead author of Krížom-krážom, a popular 4-book series of Slovak language textbooks for foreigners, and co-authored the distance learning course www.e-slovak.sk. Other affiliations include the University of Bologna in Forli, Italy (2012-2016) where she developed the Slovak language curriculum for interpreters and translators. This is her second year teaching at SLI. She lives in Windham, NH, where she teaches and promotes Slovak language at the Czech and Slovak Association in Boston.


Viktoriia Kim, MA

Intermediate Russian

The Ohio State University

Viktoriia has been teaching at SLI since 2013. Originally from Saint-Petersburg, Russia she is currently teaching at the Ohio State University. Viktoriia earned her BA in Russian language and literature and MA in Cultural linguistics & Teaching Russian as a Foreign language from Saint-Petersburg State University. Viktoriia has taught various levels of Russian at Herzen State Pedagogical University (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), University of Szeged (Szeged, Hungary), The College of William and Mary, The Ohio State University and University of Pittsburgh (USA). Whenever she has free time she enjoys nature and bird watching, as well as cooking for her family and friends.

Ekaterina Kovaleva, MEd

Beginning Russian

University of Pittsburgh

Ekaterina received a Master's degree in Education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 and is a native speaker of Russian. Her teaching career began in 2012 when she started teaching Russian as a foreign language in Zurich, Switzerland. After moving to the USA, she completed a Master of Education program with a major in Foreign Language Education at the University of Pittsburgh. In September 2017, she started to work for the Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES) at the University of Pittsburgh as a leader of the Russian conversation table and also an official tutor of Russian language. She spent the fall of 2018 teaching Russian as a foreign language at the Higher School of Economics Universty in Moscow, Russia. Since January 2019, she is back in Pittsburgh and continues to work at CREES. This is her second year teaching at SLI and she is sure that it is going to be an amazing experience!

Jolanta Lion, MA

Beginning Polish

Carnegie Mellon University

Jolanta Lion, originally from Łódź, Poland, received her MA in Polish Language and Literature with a specialization in Linguistics and Film from the University of Łódź, Poland. She has been teaching Polish Language and Culture for beginning to advanced-level students since 1989 at the University of Łódź, Polish National Film School in Łódź, and the University of Pittsburgh, including SLI. In addition, she created and taught courses on contemporary Polish Cinema and Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski as well as founded and directed a Polish Film Festival "Through Polish Eyes." Currently, she is the Director of the Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival, "Faces," where Polish films and Polish Filmmakers are a significant component of the festival.

Vlasta Stofova, PhD

Beginning and Intermediate Slovak

Vlasta, a native of Slovakia, holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Comenius University of Bratislava. While living in Orlando Florida for seven years, she also earned a MA in TESOL from the University of Central Florida. Returning home to Slovakia in 2006, she has been teaching Slovak as a foreign language at the university level. Since 2003, she has been a part of the University of Pittsburgh’s SLI program, teaching Slovak at all skill levels and working to build a strong Slovak summer program in Pittsburgh and in Slovakia.


Zita Tóth Shawgo, MA

Beginning Hungarian

Zita is native Hungarian, she earned her MA in English Language and Literature, Italian Language and Literature, as well as a post-graduate degree in Translation Studies from the University of Pécs, Hungary. During the more than 15 years of her career as a professional language educator she has taken on several challenging and rewarding endeavors, from designing curricula, writing and publishing language course books, to serving as the international manager and liaison of multiple multilateral student exchange projects in Hungary. She is also a proud alumna of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program (AY 2011/12). Recently she has engaged in teaching ESL courses to adults and Hungarian to her family and friends.

Anastasiia Zinchenko, PhD

Advanced Russian

Anastasiia studied linguistics at Tyumen State University. Since 2011, she has been teaching Russian as a foreign language at the university level. She holds an MA in Psychology and a PhD in Cultural Studies. Anastasiia has been teaching at SLI since 2015.

Evgenia Wilkins, PhD

Beginning Russian

University of Texas

Evgenia is from St.Petersburg, Russia. She received her BA from Herzen Pedagogical University, and MA from Saint-Petersburg State University. She continued her education at the University of Texas at Austin, and received her Ph.D. in 2017. Over the years, she taught for the summer intensive institutes such as Indiana University and Beloit College. She worked for the Russian Flagship Program at Portland State University in 2013-2016. Now, she teaches Russian language at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include second language acquisition, development of intercultural competence, discourse analysis, and study abroad. 2021 is her first year with SLI! She is looking forward to meeting SLI students IN PERSON, and assisting them on their path to Russian proficiency. In her free time, she enjoys exploring national parks, doing photography, working out and organizing dinner parties for friends.

Krzysztof Borowski, PhD

Beginning Polish

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Krzysztof did his doctoral work in Slavic Languages and Literatures at The University of Kansas, where he taught all levels of Polish for five years.
Since 2020, he has been working at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he teaches Polish language and culture courses. His professional interests include languages, sociolinguistics, identity, migration, and, naturally, Polish language teaching. During the online Spring 2021 semester, he organized a remote pierogi making/cooking demonstration for his Polish language students, successfully helping a dozen of students to prepare a nutritious lunch that day. This will be his first year at SLI and he’s very excited to bring his enthusiasm for language learning to students of Polish. In his spare time, he enjoys web design, biking, and watching Polish comedies. His favorite football team is Leeds United.