❍ Year of graduation: 2009
❍ Field of current or former occupation: Media
Question: What is your current occupation and where do you live? Please briefly describe your duties and responsibilities. How long have you been at this position?
Jonathan Earle: I’m an audio producer in Brooklyn, NY. I work for a company called StoryKeep that produces documentary films and books for families that want to preserve their stories. I’ve been here for about four months.
Question: Did studying Russian language and culture at Williams help you in your professional and personal development? If yes, then how were Russian Studies were useful to you? What opportunities and challenges did the Russian major open up for you both specific to your current occupation and more generally?
Jonathan Earle: Absolutely. I’m so glad that I studied Russian at Williams. It set me on a path of adventure and curiosity that I follow to this day. After graduation, I spent four years in Russia working as a teacher and journalist. I learned Russian fluently and immersed myself in the country’s culture, literature, and history. Even now that I’m back in the United States, Russian is still very much a part of my everyday life. Without Russian at Williams, I probably would not have this rich intellectual wellspring that I return to again and again for reflection and inspiration. My current job involves listening and helping people tell their story, skills I started developing as a newspaper in Russia. Studying Russian and living abroad also made me a more culturally versatile person and a person less quick to judge others who don’t look or talk like me.
Question: Please share your advice or recommendation about the Russian department at Williams to a prospective student who is considering taking courses or majoring in our program.
Jonathan Earle: For those who know they’re going to take Russian, show them some Russian hospitality. Greet them like long-lost sons and daughters. The Russian Department was and should always be the earthiest, least pretentious, most familial language department at Williams. Eat together, cook together, drink (non-alcoholic beverages) together, indulge your love of Russian absurdity, drama, and humor together. Sing the national anthem together (maybe some Russian karaoke?). You get the picture. For those who are on the fence because they see other first-years lining up for Chinese and Arabic (or the old mainstays, French and Spanish), and wonder, “Am I crazy for taking Russian?” Encourage them that no, they are not crazy, just different. And that’s a good thing. Remind them that learning a language isn’t necessarily about what job they think they’ll be doing in ten years. And note that Russian majors have the most developed souls. (They also have more fun. See “Russian hospitality.”)
If you would like to write to Jonathan Earle, please contact Baktygul Aliev.