Mabel Runyon (12): Moldovan and Russian foreign relations

Celine Kiriscioglu, Contributing Writer

This past Thursday, Mabel Runyon (12) showcased her interest in Moldova and its foreign relations in her independent study titled “Moldova in Russian History and the Case of Language.” Runyon discussed the relationship between the language and politics of Moldova and other foreign powers. 

Runyon decided to research Moldova and its foreign relations because the topic was not covered in the US State Department sponsored program, NSLI-Y (National Security Language Initiative for Youth), which Runyon attended online this past summer, she said. The censorship concerning Russia and Moldova’s economic and cultural separation piqued Runyon’s curiosity. “It caught my attention and I wanted to investigate further,” Runyon said.

In her independent study, Runyon focused on Russian and Moldovan relations, including Moldova’s fight for independence against Russian and Soviet powers, as well as the development of the foreign relations of the Republic of Moldova, mostly in connection with the United States. 

A highlight of Runyon’s research process was learning about how Moldova declared Moldavian its official language in 1994 after establishing its independence in 1991. Runyon said she was interested in how the Moldovan government fought back against the Russian government — which tried to implement the teaching of its language in Moldvan schools — and ultimately established its own identity as a separate country. 

Runyon and her faculty advisor, history teacher Dr. Susan Groppi, encountered a few obstacles throughout Runyon’s research process. When first researching Moldova, Runyon struggled to find the right scope for her research. Although Groppi and Runyon originally believed Runyon would complete a broad study of the relationship between language and politics in Eastern Europe, once Runyon investigated the history of Moldova, she decided to narrow her focus to the country, she said. 

Groppi said her role in Runyon’s research process is to provide guidance so that Runyon can carry out her own vision of the project. “I’m helping her figure out how to teach herself.”

Runyon also struggled to find information pertinent to her specific view on Moldova and its relationship between language and their economy, she said. The school’s database did not have the information she was looking for, but, fortunately, Runyon found information helpful to her research from government sources such as the US embassy, government records about Moldovan trade, and Moldova’s census. 

“My next step, if I could do it, would be to go to Moldova and see it and experience it in person.” Runyon said.