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 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.

Christine Metil

Associate Director

University of Pittsburgh

Christine has enjoyed planning and implementation of all aspects of SLI since its beginnings in 1988. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and studied at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She is also the Director of the Slovak Heritage Festival at Pitt.

Maher Al-Khateeb

Beginning Arabic

University of Kentucky

Maher Khateeb is an instructor of the Arabic language and culture at the University of Kentucky. He has taught Arabic for eight years and this is his fourth summer with the SLI at the University of Pittsburgh. He came to the United States for the first time in 2006 as a Fulbright visiting teaching assistant of Arabic language and culture at the University of Kentucky. Maher has taught Arabic language courses from the first year to the fourth year with a focus on both modern standard Arabic and the Levantine dialect. His teaching experiences is not limited to teaching at the college level, but also teaching high school students at the Gear Up Kentucky Summer Academy program. Maher is currently working on his PhD in curriculum and instruction. He considers teaching a non-stop process that requires the teacher to be in a continuous search for the best teaching methodologies for successful learning experiences. Maher’s research interests include Arabic language instructions, technology integration in language instructions, and second language pedagogy. 


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.

Zhanna Budenkova

Resident Assistant of Pitt in Moscow

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.

Rodrigo Castro

Resident Musician

Rodrigo Alejandro Castro (Mexico City, 1985), is a composer, orchestral conductor and guitarist. He earned his Bachelor of Music from Florida State University and his Master’s degree in Composition by the Carnegie Mellon University, where he also earned a diploma in Advanced Musical Studies. He began his career in 2004 studying classical guitar with maestro Carlos Molina in Miami, Florida. He studied with Ladislav Kubík at Florida State University and under the tutelage of maestro Leonardo Balada in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has recently worked with maestro Leo Brouwer in Havana, Cuba. Between 2012 and 2014 he taught music theory, musicology and conducting at Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatan, and also at Centro de Educacion Musical de Merida, in Mexico. Rodrigo´s most recent projects include- an upcoming orchestral premiere in New York City, a second year engagement with the Summer Language Institute, in the University of Pittsburgh´s Summer Language Institute, as a resident musician who supplements the language acquisition process through native folk-music idioms, and he continues to work on his compositions. Rodrigo´s work has been presented and performed both in the United States, Latin America and Europe.

Oksana Husieva

Beginning Russian

University of Kansas

Oksana Husieva, originally from Lviv, Ukraine, earned her MA in Russian and Comparative Literature from the Pennsylvania State University in 2016, where she started teaching Ukrainian and Russian. Oksana is currently a PhD student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas, where she teaches all levels of Ukrainian and Russian, and introduction to Slavic folklore. Her research focuses on twentieth-century Russian literature and Russian women writers, Gulag narratives, women and gender studies, trauma studies, and Slavic folklore. This is her first year teaching at SLI and she cannot wait to meet her new students and colleagues! 

Agnieszka Jezyk

Advanced Polish

University of Illinois at Chicago

Agnieszka Jezyk, originally from Kraków, Poland, got her BA and MA in Journalism and Polish Literature from the Jagiellonian University. She is working as a lecturer of beginner Polish and Central European Culture at UCLA and is currently finishing her Ph.D. thesis on Bruno Jasieński at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her teaching interests focus on the importance of visual aids in the second language classroom. She enjoys live music, and photography.

Renáta Kamenárová, PhD

Beginning Slovak

Comenius University

Dr. Renáta Kamenárová, a native of Žilina, Slovakia, is a specialist in foreign language instruction with over 17 years of experience in university education. She is a lecturer affiliated with the School of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava. She served in the SAS (Studia Academica Slovaca - Center for Slovak as a Foreign Language) program for ten 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 and Columbia University, for which she developed a Slovak language proficiency test last year. She lives in Windham, NH, where she teaches and promotes Slovak language at the Czech and Slovak Association in Boston, and is working on a comprehensive teacher’s manual for the Krížom-krážom series.


Frane Karabatić

Beginning and Intermediate Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian

University of Kansas

Originally from Split, Croatia, Frane is currently a PhD student at the University of Kansas focusing on second language acquisition. His secondary research focuses on masculinity in the twentieth-century Russian literature. He has been teaching B/C/S as a second language since 2009. In the past, together with B/C/S, he has been also teaching all levels of Italian and elementary Russian. In addition to teaching at the SLI, he has significant experience working as an interpreter and in teaching courses at the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Besides language classes, he has also taught South Slavic Literature and Civilization, Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe, Literatures of Central and Eastern Europe, Cinema in Communist and Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe, and The Vampire in Literature, Film, and Television. He has been with SLI since 2013. This year, Frane received the LTLR Grant from University of Pittsburgh to conduct research on developing open access online materials for teaching elementary Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian through performance-based culture-centered instruction.

Olga Kim, PhD

Intermediate Russian

University of Pittsburgh

Olga has taught all levels of Russian at Seoul National University (South Korea) and the University of Pittsburgh for past ten years. This is her third summer teaching at SLI. Olga is an enthusiastic language teacher and learner. She is fluent in three languages (Russian, Korean, and English) and now is learning two more (Uzbek and French). Olga received her PhD from University of Pittsburgh where she studied film and literature.

Victoria Kim

Intermediate Russian

The Ohio State University

Victoria has been teaching at SLI since 2013. Originally from Saint-Petersburg, Russia she is currently a PhD student at the Ohio State University. Victoria earned her BA in Russian language and literature and MA in Cultural linguistics & Teaching Russian as a Foreign language from Saint-Petersburg State University. Victoria has taught various levels of Russian at Herzen State Pedagogical University (Saint-Petesburg, 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

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 first year teaching at SLI and she is sure that it is going to be an amazing experience!

Jolanta Lion

Intermediate 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.

Marcela Michálková, PhD

Beginning Czech

University of Pittsburgh

Marcela earned her PhD in Slavic Languages and Cultures from The Ohio State University. She taught Czech, Slovak and Russian languages and cultures at the Ohio State University, Pittsburgh University and Indiana University, Bloomington. At the Ohio State, she coordinated the Czech program, developed collaborative programming between the OSU foreign language Center and the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation (player program "Czech Mates"), and led the Russian Individualized Instruction program. She also worked as an assistant professor of American studies at Prešov University, Slovakia, and a chief communications strategist for an international humanitarian and pastoral aid organization based in Germany. Marcela has been with SLI since 2006.

Olga Mukhortova, PhD

Fourth-year Russian

University of Pittsburgh

Olga received her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds her Specialist degree in Slavic Philology and Russian Language and Literature. At the University of Pittsburgh,  Olga teaches courses in Russian language, literature, culture, and film. Olga has been teaching Russian as a foreign language since 2000. She has worked with SLI since 2011. Olga served as a Lead instructor of Pitt-ProjectGO! in Narva, Estonia for four summers. For the last two years, Olga worked as a Lecturer of Russian at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Olga has a full OPI certification in Russian. Olga's teaching interests include online and project-based language learning. Her research work focuses on post-Soviet star construction and approaches such celebrity figures as Nikita Mikhalkov, Sergei Bodrov, Renata Litvinova, Liubov' Orlova, and Marlene Dietrich.

Robert Mulcahy, PhD

Director of Pitt in Moscow

College of William & Mary

Robert has worked at the College of William & Mary since 2014, where he teaches various levels of Russian language, as well as courses in film, culture, folklore, media, and spy fiction. Having lived and worked in Moscow for over fifteen years as an editor and financial translator for Interfax, one of Russia's leading news agencies, he returned to the U.S. to pursue a doctorate degree in Slavic Languages and Cultures at The Ohio State University. Before coming to William & Mary, he taught at OSU for several years. He has a longstanding experience in the field of short-term immersion programs and has been with SLI since 2013.

Elif Sayar

Beginning Turkish

İstanbul Technical University

Elif Sayar is a lecturer at İstanbul Technical University, Turkey at the School of Foreign Languages. In addition, she is taking her PhD at Hacettepe University on Teaching Turkish as a Foreign Language. Her decision to study English as an undergraduate to learn about other cultures and transformed into a dedication to explore her own culture and language to understand, frame, and eventually teach Turkish as a foreign language. She has taught both Turkish and English at all levels, and she was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at UPENN last year. Elif is recently interested in learning Ottoman and Farsi, and she has a keen interest in arts like drawing, painting, and sculpting.

Tetyana Shlikhar

Beginning Ukrainian

University of Pittsburgh

Tetyana is an advanced PhD student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at University of Pittsburgh. She received her MA and PhD in Translation Studies from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine), as well as MA from University of Pittsburgh (2016). Her current research interests include memory studies, historical film, and Russo-Ukrainian relations. During the academic year at the University of Pittsburgh she has taught elementary Ukrainian, intermediate Russian, Early Russian Culture, and Modern Russian Culture. Tetyana has been with SLI since 2015.

Vlasta Stofova, PhD

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.


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.