The University of Iowa

On to Russia, with love from Iowa

August 4th, 2016
Kristofer May

By Madison Petersen, The Daily Iowan

Kristofer May has long had a passion for learning, and that drove him to the opportunity to teach English in Russia through a Fulbright grant.

“When I found out that I won the award, I was really excited and happy to be going to Russia,” he said. “But I am a little worried about the Siberian winter.”

May recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Russian and a B.S. in biology.

The Farley, Iowa, native will teach English to college students at a medical university and will offer them the opportunity to learn about the United States and history. He will also tutor Russian students in the sciences, offer trombone lessons, and participate in a community band.

“During this experience, I hope to provide Russian students with an opportunity to improve their English in order to help them connect with the international scientific community,” he said.

The Fulbright is an international exchange program through the U.S. government that funds studying, teaching, and research abroad. May is one of 14 recipients to receive the award at the UI. Recipients of the award are chosen based on their achievements and leadership abilities.

“The Fulbright Program presents students with the opportunity to travel abroad and make connections and a difference in the lives of others abroad,” said Karen Wachsmuth, the UI associate director of international fellowships in International Programs. “It presents recipients with an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”

May’s mother, Diane, said he became interested in Russian foreign cultures and world issues at a young age and decided to teach himself Russian as a side project during his early years of high school.

While in Russia, May plans on taking the opportunity to learn about rural medicine in Russia.

“After returning, I hope to study medicine and then use my knowledge to work in rural health care,” May said. “I want to use my experience in Russia to enhance my future work.”

May’s mother said he has long had an interest in science, leading to his decision to enter the medical field,and his interest in rural medicine stemmed from his upbringing.

“Growing up in rural Iowa, it is a challenge getting medical care,” she said. “[Kristofer] wants to learn how they do rural medicine in Russia, as it is even farther distances than rural Iowa. It is similar to gaining access to medical facilities while living in Alaska or northern Canada.”

May said he hopes this experience will better prepare him for his future in the sciences.

“I hope that this experience will make me a better teacher and future physician, improve my Russian, and provide me with academic and personal contact around the world,” he said.