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June 2013
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Postcards from Russia – Russian-American Students

Prof. Marina Kaul and Prof. Irwin Weil from the Russian American Academic Center of the Russian State University for the Humanities

Prof. Marina Kaul and Prof. Irwin Weil from the Russian American Academic Center of the Russian State University for the Humanities

 

Students at RSUH in Moscow

In 2004, Northwestern University Professor Emeritus Irwin Weil, and Marina Kaul of the Russian State University for the Humanities, saw a dream come true: the founding of an American Studies program at the university in Moscow. Professor Weil, who has devoted much of his career to promoting cultural exchange with the people of Russia, was especially excited about introducing us Northwestern University students to students at RSUH.

We arrived fairly early, before most of the classes had started, which afforded time to get to know Marina. Walking into her office, we were surprised and charmed to see a portrait of Professor Weil with his guitar; next to that was an article praising the “Moscow Knight.” Lining the shelves of the room were popular American movies and books.

Just before midday we were able to meet some of the students studying hospitality, museumology, and tourism. All five spoke English very well, and we spent about an hour getting to know them. We asked them about their career goals, and about the Mariinsky Orchestra, which is known to be one of the best in Russia. Afterward, they took us on a tour of their school.

Each floor of the school has an art and sculpture gallery filled with replicas of ancient greek, roman, egyptian, and mesopotamian art. Olga, one of the students, pulled us into one room with excitement, and a special sparkle in her eye. She explained to us that this was her favorite room, the only one displaying original art. This gallery was dedicated to underground Soviet art from 1970s and 1980s. We felt honored to see such a remarkable piece of Russian history.

Eventually, we were all shepherded to the cafeteria for a late lunch. Walking back, I was excited to see Nina, one of the Russian-American Studies students who had come to Chicago last winter.

I was grateful to have met these remarkable students. I really enjoyed getting to know some Russian people my own age, and talking about art and culture with them.

By Keryn Wouden, graduate student at Northwestern University.

 

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