18 April 2013

Spring shorts

Moon over Elektrostal--actually, over the buildings next door to us. This evening, 8:55 p.m.
We've put our walking sticks in storage, and as our student predicted two weeks ago, we've put our boots away, too!! Of course we may still get a snowstorm, but with the help of magical thinking, we're going to behave as if that won't happen.

The good weather coincided wonderfully with the visit of friends from the USA--Tom and Vicki Stave of Eugene Friends Church in Oregon. Having just visited the Quaker teachers in China, they were going home the long way around--via Russia and Britain. Their previous stop having been Irkutsk, they were able to tell us that spring was actually farther along in Siberia....

We spent a couple of days with the Staves in Moscow before their visit to Elektrostal. In Moscow, we stayed in a hostel that certainly qualifies as the friendliest, indeed mellowest accommodations I've yet experienced in Russia. If you don't mind the simplicity of a hostel, including shared bathrooms and a certain convivial hubbub until the late hours of the evening, you should really consider the Arizona Dream Hostel.
The location is super--about ten minutes' walk from Mayakovsky metro station and about two minutes from Patriarch's Ponds, the park where Bulgakov's novel Master and Margarita begins. Arizona Dream has just been open a little over a month, and I wish them many years of success.

Meanwhile, April at our Institute means Youth and Scholarship Week--programs and conferences based on student research. Among the programs were exhibits on the contributions made to Russia by people from various other nations. Especially interesting to me was this wall-newspaper, "Looking Back from the 21st Century," by the fourth-year students, focusing on the contributions of noteworthy Americans, several of whom I'd nominated as worthy of research:

From left to right: Van Cliburn, Dean Reed (whom I'd never heard of but who was well-known in the USSR), Stephen Grellet, George Kennan, John Reed, and John Scott.

Conference presentations included...

Svetlana Kirilenko on thematic groups of Spanish-language loanwords in John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flats

Anna Sirotkina on models of impersonal usages in English newspapers.

Nikita Barkhatov, "The French through British eyes."

Maria Lesovaya on the unique character of British fashion from the seventeenth century to the present.
Altogether there were 95 presentations--a very impressive body of work by our own students and several guest scholars from other institutions.

We were also delighted to welcome a U.S. diplomat to our school this month. Second secretary Jonathon Kent, specializing in economic and trade analysis at the U.S. Embassy, visited Elektrostal on April 4. Judy and I introduced him to several faculty members, took him on a tour of the city, and then returned to the Institute for lunch and his presentation to our fifth-year students.

In his presentation, Kent spoke about Russian-American trade relations and the potential for future growth. He also spoke about American direct investment in Russian companies, and Russian direct investment in American companies.

After his presentation, Kent fielded questions from students and asked them a number of questions of his own. Students were interested in his preparation for diplomatic service. His undergraduate degree had been in physics, as he explained; only in graduate school did he immerse himself in economics and public administration. This led to a discussion of the role of liberal arts and core curriculum subjects in U.S. higher education, and similarities and differences in Russian higher education.

Jonathon Kent ended his day with us by having tea with a number of students. Among other things, he talked about a typical day in the life of a foreign service officer. He told us a little about the standards and expectations that prevail in the culture of international diplomacy. I'd love to think that he might have sparked some interest in this kind of service among our students; I think several of them would do very well as diplomats.

"The Quaker roots of the Vineyard." Having touched on this subject several times in this blog, I'm grateful to Danny Coleman for the extensive passage by Carol Wimber.

"Eric Metaxas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Servant Leadership." What's behind the recent upsurge in Bonhoeffer's popularity?

A New York Times editorial (better late than never...) "Indisputable torture."

"UNICEF stifles its own report on Palestinian children in Israeli detention." (The report itself is available via a link in this article.)

A walk around Elektrostal. This page is truly a labor of love. OK, the text is in Russian, but the maps and pictures will give you a good idea of what our city is like. This year, Elektrostal celebrates its 75th anniversary--more about that toward the end of the summer.

A little calmer than my norm, but I was intrigued by the idea of blues flute.... Lynwood Slim:

No comments: