Masha Holl was born in France in the Russian émigré community. She grew up transitioning from one cultural environment to another daily – from a close-knit, insular, family-based group that shared the same language, religion, and goals, to the outside world of a completely different language, religion, and a multiplicity of goals. Masha was as familiar with morning coffee and fresh croissants as she was with bliny and borshch, with the Cyrillic alphabet as with the Latin, with the rhythm of holidays of a predominantly Catholic host country, as with the demands of the feasts and rituals of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
But the motley diversity of Paris, as big and energetic a city as it is, just wasn’t enough for her. Masha grabbed the first opportunity that presented itself to cross the ocean – in the guise of a summer internship in a language school. There is a pattern here – language and culture, traditions and histories, are where she finds inspiration for her endeavors. Three months abroad turned into a lifetime in America, two daughters, a Master’s degree in Russian literature and folklore, a dog, and life in South Texas.
In keeping with her multicultural life, Masha writes and teaches about culture and far-away places, about languages and communication, about understanding and misunderstanding. Her favorite focus is folklore, but she will happily put together a lesson plan – or a full syllabus – for the study of the Russian language, literature, or cinema. Just ask her college students.