AWIU’s 9 member delegation arrived in St Petersburg, Russia on May 13 for a two week visit to St Petersburg, Moscow and the historic Golden Ring.
THE DELEGATION: Delegation members are Anne Tonks, President; Gayle Morin, VP Delegations. Kathleen Hunt, VP Membership; Barbara Rubio, Chair, Virtual Chapter; Robin Winter Odem, Chair, Chicago Chapter; Diane McGlinchey, Chair, Orange County Chapter; Merry Lee Eilers, Co-Chair, Northern California Chapter; Laura Schuldt, Chair, Washington DC Chapter and Judith Russell, Member Virtual Chapter. In Moscow they will be joined by Vesna Bozic, a new AWIU member working in Moscow who has helped in all aspects of the delegation planning
MISSION OF THE DELEGATION: The purpose of the delegation is to support the AWIU mission of person to person dialogue and understanding between people from around the world.
We have arranged many meetings in the country including with Jocelyn Greene, the wife of the Ambassador, The Moscow Carnegie Center, A consortium of 160 Women NGO’s, the Russian 200o Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Winner, Veronika Marchenko; The Women’s Union of Russia and with the Moscow City Council or as it is called in Russia—the Moscow DUMA and many others.
AWIU Virtual Chapter has been studying Russia for the last year in anticipation of the Delegation. Delegation member Vesna Bozic belongs to that Chapter and has brought many opportunities to the delegation to meet with local organizations in Russia
THE ITINERARY: The delegates will spend 4 days in St Petersburg and 9 days in Moscow and vicinity. As the delegates are learning about life in Russia, this blog will provide links to areas and topics about the country and its history and life at present in the country.
BACKGROUND ON RUSSIA: Here are some of the links used in the Delegation planning. These links provide background to Russia and to some of the sites we visited in St. Petersburg.
On Russia—just the facts—can be found in the CIA Fact Book which you can find here https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html Russia is vast and has a history going back well over 1000 years as a nation. Currently the country has140 million people and spans 11 time zones from the European border to Siberia. Well it stretches over 11 times zones for the world—but recently for administrative reasons—Russia consolidated to only 8 time zones.
St. Petersburg. A city of about 5 million near the Baltic Sea. Home to the Hermitage, one of the world’s most famous museums. Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg The city is filled with canals and is known as the Venice of Russia
FIRST STOP: University of St Petersburg. We visited with students from the Department of Japanology and School of Japanese Language, within the Oriental and African Department.at the University of St. Petersburg. Professor Victor Rybin introduced the class, and told us that the History of Japanology goes back 300 years to Peter the Great who founded Japanese Studies.
The students here were studying Japanese and Chinese and other languages. Their studies focus on the far eastern side of Russia 10 or 11 time zones from Europe.
There were Introduction of the AWIU women and an explanation of what we do. The students introduced themselves. Barbara Rubio asked what led them to learn Japanese. Most intend to become translators for Japanese who visit or work in Russia. For instance, Toyota employees. There are not too many Japanese tourists.
The students here spend 80 % of the time learning to write Japanese, and 20% speaking the language
We were told about the St. Petersburg University: There are about 20,000 students, faculty and tutors. Tuition costs about $7,000. Some students pay. The government pays tuition for the top students.
In the Oriental and African Department, 612 students are enrolled. Ninety languages are offered.
In elementary and high schools, English is the main second language now.
They gave us an overview of their program and we had the opportunity to the Universities sculpture garden.
See and overview of the University here
STARTING TO LEARN ABOUT RECENT HISTORY OF RUSSIA IN ST. PETERSBURG: By recent we mean 1700 to the present!!!
St. Petersburg is near the Baltic Sea and has been the capital of Russia in the past. This city was founded as a link to Europe and its commerce which could be reached by sea from this port. It was the dream of Peter the Great to link Russia closely to Europe and he chose St. Petersburg as the place to start. Learn more about him here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_I_of_Russia
THE HERMITAGE: This is one of the most famous museums in the world and it is located in the Winter Palace used by Catherine the Great and other members of that royal family. Here are links to what we saw.
Check out pictures of the Hermitage taken by the delegation here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50034331@N02/sets/72157624097854694/
More tomorrow on more historic sites in St. Petersburg and our overnight train trip between St Petersburg and today’s modern capital Moscow.