Outreach: CREES in the Community

image collage including woman holding Ukrainian Easter egg, girl doing word search, Slavic festival, people dancing in a circle, and people holding up Polish folk art

The Center for Russia, East European & Eurasian Studies strives to create a community built on life-learning, connecting, and engaging with one another. Whether you are a local educator, a member of the community, or a KU student, faculty or staff member, CREES invites you to explore our world area in thought-provoking ways at the University of Kansas and beyond.

Our outreach initiatives have something for everyone. We host annual art and dance workshops, give presentations for K-12 classrooms including language teaching, coordinate a language program for incarcerated youth at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center, lead story time at local libraries, host language tables, provide professional development workshops for K-12, community college, and minority serving institution educators, put on an annual spring festival, and more! Scroll down to learn more about our outreach programs. Have a question about outreach? Contact the CREES Outreach Coordinator.

Can't attend an event in person? No problem! Many of our events are recorded and posted to our YouTube channel

Story Time at Local Libraries

CREES participates in the Lawrence Public Library Multicultural Story Time series, which showcases stories and crafts from different countries around the world, Story Time Around the World at the Baldwin City Public Library, and leads a Russian-language story time with the Johnson County Libraries. 

Learn more about upcoming CREES-led story times

Want CREES to lead a story time at your library? Email the CREES Outreach Coordinator to request one.

Young woman in traditional Turkmen costume reads a story at a library to a group of parents and their young children

Multicultural Story Time: Turkmenistan at Lawrence Public Library

Woman sitting cross legged on the floor reads a book to people. Table with Russian flag and a matryoshka doll behind the woman, guitar leaned against the table.

Story Time Around the World: Russia, Baldwin City Public Library

young kids making a craft

Russian Language Story Time, Johnson County Library: Lenexa City Center

Anita Patel

"Partnering with CREES has brought invaluable people from around the world to share their cultures with the kids and families here at the library. Through food, games, dance, crafts, and of course, stories, the families in our community have learned so much!"

Anita Patel
Youth Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library

Art & Dance Workshops

CREES recently started offering free workshops on different art forms from the Russian, East European, and Eurasian region. We offer a Ukrainian pysanky workshop every spring, and offered a Polish papercutting (wycinanki) workshop in February 2023. We plan to offer at least one workshop each year on a different art form.

Learn more about Ukrainian pysanky. Learn more about Polish wycinanki

CREES has also just started offering a dance workshop each fall semester. In 2022 we offered a workshop on South Slavic kolo dances. In 2024, we learned Ukrainian folk dance.

Group of about 40 people showing off Polish paper cut art that they made
Participants in the Polish wycinanki workshop show off their creations
KU student showing off her first pysanka from the Spring 2023 workshop

KU student showing off her first pysanka from the Spring 2023 workshop

People dancing in a circle holding hands

KU faculty, staff, students, and members of the community learn a Serbian kolo

3 people making Ukrainian pysanky at a round table. Three people doing the same at a table in the background

Members of the community make Ukrainian pysanky at one of the CREES workshops

Becky Weaver

"The wycinanki workshop was a lot of fun and I learned new information about the paper cutting tradition. It was really beneficial to hear from local artist Angie Pickman, whose work I always enjoy viewing. As someone who learns through doing, I really appreciated how the workshop left a lot of time for creating."

Becky Weaver
Art Teacher, Baldwin City High School

K-12 Outreach

CREES engages with K-12 students and educators through a variety of activities. The CREES Outreach Coordinator makes regular visits to middle schools in Lawrence to teach Russian language to the World Languages classes. She also makes class visits to area high schools to teach Russian and Ukrainian art and culture. Want CREES to come to your class? Contact our Outreach Coordinator.

CREES and the other KU are studies centers CEAS, CLACS, and KASC put on Traveling World Languages Fairs each year in which they travel to high schools in Kansas and teach a language from their respective regions. 

In addition to classroom visits, CREES provides a number of free resources for educators including lesson plans, educator professional development workshops, reading lists, and more. Check out our resources for educators page for more details.

CREES also coordinates a language teaching program at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). Each year, CREES teaches one of its languages to incarcerated youth at the JDC. This year, JDC residents learned Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish. CREES coordinates with the other area studies centers to bring a variety of languages to the JDC each year.

CEAS, KASC, and CREES outreach coordinators holding books or cultural objects in a school hallway under a banner that says Cultural Arts Day

Cultural Arts Day 2019 at Warren Hills Elementary School

Four people standing in front of the entrance to Wichita North High School

KU area studies centers visit Wichita North High School for a Traveling World Languages Fair

5 students and one teacher make Ukrainian pysanky in an art classroom in a high school

Students in the Baldwin City High School 3D Design Art Class learn to make Ukrainian pysanky during a CREES classroom visit

Leticia Gonzalez

"My seventh grade students remember the Russian lesson and the Russian teacher as the best unit in my World Languages class. I have several students who have delved into studying Russian because of Dr. Luttrell's visit. The part I find very insightful is what she shares about her own experience while studying abroad. This always leads to many questions. In sum, Dr. Luttrell does a phenomenal job of bringing a slice of a beautiful language and culture to the classroom which I find is a unique privilege for my students!"

Leticia González
World Languages Teacher, Southwest Middle School

Community College and Minority Serving Institution Outreach

CREES and the other KU are studies centers CEAS, CLACS, and KASC put on Global Opportunities Expo each year. The Expo, for students enrolled in Minority Serving Institutions and Community Colleges in the Great Plains, introduces students to academic and study abroad programs, careers, initiatives, and intriguing ideas that should inspire all of us to think and act globally. The event showcases the careers available to those who gain expertise in REES as well as the CREES language offerings and information on study abroad.

The KU area studies centers also coordinate an annual professional development workshop for community college and MSI educators. Each year focuses on a different topic. The 2023 workshop, titled "Post-Pandemic Health Outcomes Cross-Culturally," explored approaches to caring for physical and mental health during and the COVID-19 pandemic in different countries around the world. Recordings of the four workshop panels are coming soon.


CREES Spring Festival

Every year, CREES celebrates the arrival of spring with its spring festival. The event features food and crafts from the REE region. There is also live music and dancing. This event, free and open to the public, engages the entire community. KU students, staff, and faculty are joined by members of the Lawrence and surrounding communities to celebrate and engage with REE culture.

In recent years, CREES has invited other community partners to attend, including the Kansas City Czech and Slovak Club, and the KU Turkish Student Association. 


Group of people dancing in a circle holding hands. kids and adults together.

People dance a kolo at the 2019 CREES spring festival

People eating at round tables. 15 piece Croatian band playing and singing. Dressed in red and white folk costumes playing stringed instruments

Hrvatski Običaj performs traditional Croatian music at the 2023 CREES spring festival

people gathered in a park near a large gazebo

2022 CREES spring festival

Language Tables

Practice your language skills! Browse The Russian, East European, and Eurasian language tables offered through KU. All levels are welcome and meetings are open to everyone!

Browse REE Language Tables at KU

different color speech bubbles with Hello in all the CREES languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, Turkish, BCMS, Tajik)