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Moscow, Sorochany, St. Petersburg , Russia

Program Description

Join us to learn, create and connect in Russia! Our innovative study abroad program provides opportunities for students from a variety of fields to explore ways to successfully incorporate the arts into health-related practices and settings. With guidance from the staff of our partner organization, Maria’s Children, we will learn a strengths-based, creative arts approach for working with children in orphanages and hospitals, and in a therapeutic summer camp in the countryside. Maria’s Children, founded by a Moscow-based artist, uses visual arts, theatre, improvisation, clowning, music, and dance to support children and communities that have experienced loss and trauma. In St. Petersburg we will learn from an artist and pediatric speech pathologist, who also engages with children in hospitals and orphanages through the arts. Their work provides a model of the healing potential of creativity for individuals and communities.

Participants will experience the rich cultural legacy of Russia in the celebrated cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg by visiting sites of artistic and historical significance. Outings will include the Kremlin and Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre, and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art in Moscow and the Hermitage Museum, the Grand Peterhof Palace, and the Maryinski Theatre in St. Petersburg.

We hope you will join us to experience Russia and learn from an interprofessional team of artists, psychologists and educators (and others) to enhance the health, mental health and educational outcomes for children through expressive and creative arts activities. 

Course Info:

Students will take EITHER the Art Education course (ARED 392) OR the Dance course (DANC 390) for a total of 3 credits. The program will fulfill requirements for one of two GenEd options. (Students can choose the option according to their need.)

a) Cluster 2, group 2 Visual and Performing Arts credit


b) Cluster 1, Critical Thinking, as a 300-level Integrated course (this works if the student has not completed their cluster 1 requirement in their freshman year.)

Location Description

Moscow is described as an iconic, global city and has played a central role in the development of Russia. In Moscow, we will assist in Maria’s Children’s art studios and engage with children in orphanages and hospitals. We will learn from a prominent child psychologist, health and social service providers, and community-engaged artists. We will visit the Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral. Moscow is also home to the world-famous Bolshoi Theatre (housing the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera) the internationally significant Moscow Art Theatre, Gorky Park, world-class galleries and museums including the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum, and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. As the capitol city, Moscow is a national center of hospitals and other health care institutions.

From Moscow we will travel to Sorochany, a resort area outside Moscow. Maria's Children's summer camp offers two weeks of arts and recreation in the countryside to children from city orphanages and residential programs for children with disabilities. The camp is supported by an international staff of artist/volunteers. Children and staff are housed in family units. Family groups make performances, shoot films, improvise, clown, dance, sing, cook, and create in a variety of media. Activities include book-making, weaving, painting, composing mosaics and murals, making dolls for the doll theatre, music making, photography and tapestry techniques. Outdoor activities include swimming and boating.

The final days of the program will be spent in St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in Russia, widely viewed as the country’s cultural heart. St. Petersburg is home to architectural gems like the Church of the Spilled Blood, the Grand Peterhof, The Katerina Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage, and the Russian Museum, holding the best collection of Russian art in the world. The Maryinski Theatre houses world-famous ballet and opera companies, and the city is energized by a lively contemporary arts scene. A moonlight boat outing will explore the famous draw-bridges that criss-cross the Neva River and the many canals that have earned St. Petersburg the nickname "the Venice of the North." Our partner in St. Petersburg will guide us in visits to pediatric hospitals and orphanages for children with disabilities, and will also be our guide to the arts and culture of this vibrant city.


Kate Trammell | | School of Theatre and Dance

Cyndi Gusler | | Visual and Communication Arts (EMU)


Moscow – Stay in a hotel centrally located on the Moscow River close to metro and train stations and within walking distance of the Kremlin and Red Square. Shared double rooms.

Sorochany - At the summer camp, participants will live in small cabins in family units with the attending children.

St. Petersburg – Reside in a boutique hotel in historic building near the Nevsky Prospect, across from the Kazan Cathedral, within walking distance of major cultural historic sites including the Church of Spilled Blood, the Hermitage Museum, and the Maryinski Theatre. Shared double rooms.

A hearty Russian breakfast will be provided in the hotels. At least one additional meal per day in Moscow and St. Petersburg will be covered by the program fee. All meals will be provided at the summer camp (Students will assist in preparing meals.) Students should plan to bring funds for approximately 4 additional meals.

Additional Items to Consider

The program will include mandatory meetings at JMU during Spring semester for planning, team building and skills development.

In addition to current US passports, Visas are required for travel to Russia. Passport and visa fees will be the responsibility of the student.

This program is intended for students interested in an immersive, intercultural, and interdisciplinary experience in arts and health care integration. We encourage applicants from across the university.

Students will be expected to utilize language learning apps to gain familiarity with Russian language. Non-verbal communication skills will be highly valued. Smiles go a long way!

Co-director Kate Trammell (School of Theatre and Dance) brings extensive experience and passionate commitment to community-engaged arts and health care practice.

Co-director Cyndi Gusler (Professor Eastern Mennonite University Art Department, and teacher in JMU's Summer Art Program) will contribute expertise in art making with disadvantaged youth, child development and creativity.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of: Undergraduate 2.0 and Graduate 3.0

Recommended: DANC 325, Dance in Community, to assist in preparation for this program (especially for College of Visual and Performing Arts majors) but is not required.

Rising sophomore, junior, or senior standing

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

WAITLIST applications only.

apply now

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


DANC 390 : New Directions in Dance (3 credits)

ARED 392: Special Topics in Art: Exploring Arts, Healing and Health in Russia (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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