Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

VISIT TO PERM, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 2019

January 11, 2019

perm18

Karen Hewitt writes:

I need to ask you if you know people who would like to go (or return) to Perm. Many of you know what is involved, although of course it changes slightly from year to year.

One point – as far as possible that person should have an Oxford/Oxon connection. Local residents, people who are close, people who are/were at the universities, students at the Department for Continuing Education, people with relatives here, etc.
That doesn’t mean that we are ruling out ideal people from further away, just that we hope to select as many as possible with some kind of Oxford connection. After all, it is Oxford which is twinned with Perm. 

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre together with Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education is arranging for a group of eight people to visit Perm as guests of the Perm State University. They will live in families with at least one English speaker and will have many opportunities to observe real Russian life. The visit is part of an exchange scheme in which the payment made by you supports the visit of a Perm teacher to Oxford.

Perm is Oxford’s twin city in Russia so the visit is open chiefly to people in Oxfordshire or with an Oxford connection such as attendance at OUDCE summer schools. Others will be considered if we do not fill all places. The programme of the fortnight can vary according to individual interests. As guests of Perm University you will be asked to talk to University students, while your activities can include: visits around the city, and to the Urals countryside; canoeing along the Silva river; professional and specialist contacts with economists, lawyers, local politicians, (and lectures if you are willing and able); visits to art galleries, concerts, ballet; studying the work of the city council and local voluntary groups; taking part in family life with your hosts and their friends. Previous visitors on this scheme have seized all sorts of opportunities to see how Russian society works. Several have returned for a second visit.

A knowledge of Russian is not necessary since interpreters will be provided, but obviously you will learn more if you know a little Russian. Participants should be physically fit and willing to walk reasonable distances. Some of our hosts do not have cars, and walking, climbing flights of stairs and public transport are normal. And you should be adaptable…

DATES: Saturday 7th September to Sunday 22nd September 2019 (Fifteen nights) The journey is by British Airways scheduled flight to Moscow. You will travel from Moscow to Perm by train – about 900 miles and the first day of the Trans-Siberian route. You will have a few hours in Moscow on the return journey.

COST: £1050 This includes air fares, train fares, other travel in Russia, accommodation with a family, breakfast and many other meals, a programme of activities including two visits to the opera or ballet, and two full day tours. It does not include visas, insurance, and some cheap meals. We will arrange your visas and inform you in June of the cost. Currently official visas are £50 plus admin and special delivery postage – in total about £85. You will need to go to London to give your fingerprints, but otherwise it should be straightforward.

Better email Karen if you are interested and sufficiently Oxonian!  You can also read about 2012…

Advertisements

VISIT TO PERM, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 2018

February 2, 2018

permii

Karen Hewitt writes:

At the beginning of every year I circulate everyone with details of this year’s group visit to Perm. Many of you have been on this visit aand I hope you still think it was worthwhile. 
I would be very grateful if you could publicise it among your friends who might want to apply; I’m especially eager to have people from Oxford and Oxfordshire or at least with a strong Oxford connection who do not live too far away. (Potential applicants who live in Berkshure, Bucks, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Northamptonshire can be considered as Oxford-neighbours – if, like several of you, they are in fairly regular contact with Oxford.)

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre together with the University’s Department for Continuing Education is arranging for a group of eight people to visit Perm as guests of the Perm State University. They will live in families with at least one English speaker and will have many opportunities to observe real Russian life. The visit is part of an exchange scheme in which the payment made by you supports the visit of a Perm teacher to Oxford.

Perm is Oxford’s twin city in Russia so the visit is open chiefly to people in Oxfordshire or with an Oxford connection such as attendance at OUDCE summer schools. Others will be considered if we do not fill all places. The programme of the fortnight can vary according to individual interests. As guests of Perm University you will be asked to talk to University students, while your activities can include: visits around the city, and to the Urals countryside; canoeing along the Silva river; professional and specialist contacts with economists, lawyers, local politicians, (and lectures if you are willing and able); visits to art galleries, concerts, ballet; studying the work of the city council and local voluntary groups; taking part in family life with your hosts and their friends. Previous visitors on this scheme have seized all sorts of opportunities to see how Russian society works. Several have returned for a second visit.

A knowledge of Russian is not necessary since interpreters will be provided, but obviously you will learn more if you know a little Russian. Participants should be physically fit and willing to walk reasonable distances. Some of our hosts do not have cars, and walking, climbing flights of stairs and public transport are normal. And you should be adaptable…

DATES: Saturday 8th September to Sunday 23rd September 2018 (Fifteen nights) The journey is by British Airways scheduled flight to Moscow. You will travel from Moscow to Perm by train – about 900 miles and the first day of the Trans-Siberian route. You will have a few hours in Moscow on the return journey.

COST: £1035 This includes air fares, train fares, other travel in Russia, accommodation with a family, breakfast and many other meals, a programme of activities including two visits to the opera or ballet, and two full day tours. It does not include visas, insurance, and some cheap meals. We will arrange your visas and inform you in June of the cost. Currently official visas are £50 plus admin and special delivery postage – in total about £85. You will need to go to London to give your fingerprints, but otherwise it should be straightforward.

Better email Karen if you are interested and sufficiently Oxonian!

Russian State Ballet and Opera House

October 12, 2017

171012rstate

The information on this outfit’s website (as above) leaves us in some doubt as to who exactly they are presenting to the British public. But if you buy a programme you don’t get to find out who is singing on a particular evening but you do learn that as regards the present season they belong to the Astrakhan State Opera and Ballet Theatre, whose repertoire contains a great deal that looks more interesting than Madam Butterfly and Tosca–but then I don’t have to try and make money from it…

171012gastroli

Happy opera company about to go on tour

The site has a photo of the opera company looking undaunted by the prospect of touring the length and breadth of Britain, and also some slightly vague geographical indications:

191012llan

The idea that Crewe is in North-West England is debatable, but putting Llandudno there is really going too far

How popular is Russia in the UK?

June 4, 2017

favour1

We are sometimes asked how popular Russia is among people in Britain.

In 2015, Chatham House reported results from surveys in 2012 and 2014 asking respondents which countries they felt especially favourable and unfavourable towards.   Above, we derive an overall favourability score from (favourable – unfacourable) , take the average of  this 2012 and 2014 and plot it against the change between the two dates.

We see that Russia is out on its own in terms of being unpopular and becoming more so, followed at a respectful distance by Israel.  This is presumably due to a series of notable events in this period: BP, Pussy Riot, Greenpeace, Ukraine, none of which were well received.

Interestingly enough, a BBC poll of about the same period of attitudes to different states in a sample of 22 countries showed Russia as among the least popular but without the same deterioration.

‘No sex in the Soviet Union’, Rich Mix 17 February

February 18, 2016
Picture from Dash Arts Twitter feed

Picture from Dash Arts Twitter feed

 

Not very good weather for the latest edition of Dash Cafe, which is my excuse for losing my flyer with the details of the discussants in the storm outside.

The first thing to notice was the audience, with I think rather more girls and gays and rather fewer lads squiring lasses than the normal.

So we had some stills and clips courtesy of Obskura (including Little Vera, which I remembered more as a lorry in the rain), after which Tim Supple tried tom start a discussion of sex and sexuality in the Soviet Union and after, and ran into some resistance especially from Irina Brown, who felt that in the conditions of the Soviet Union sex was part of the web of social and economic relations rather than something on its own.  Also the various demographic catastrophes–civil war, gulag, war–that killed more men than women had their effect.

Peter Pomerantsev, somewhat in opposition, felt that sex nowadays was healthily instrumental in Moscow like in Los Angeles, it was the British who had got it all wrong.

As often happens, discussion of sex turned into discussion of the position of women.  Olga from Leeds U [apologies!] was keen to point out that there was not and never had been feminism in the Soviet Union (Russia…) in the sense of women acquiring rights for themselves by concerted action.  There Bolshevik Revolution had given women the possibility of working for a living and of producing new citizens and receiving support without the need for a man, but that had been a loss for men rather than a gai for women.

That led to some discussion of damaged masculinity compensated by exaggerated machismo–Putin barechested on a bear–and linked with fear of anal rape in prison or the Army, becoming the lowest of the low as a passive homosexual.

Peter Pomerantsev was keen to point out that Putin’s culture war with the LGBT community as represented by Pussy Riot, and on a State-run TV channel near you, hadn’t helped his popularity but of course annexing Crimea had done the trick.  I think that Susan Larsen made the same point about the culture wars lacking traction.

Somebody–it may have been Irina Brown–made the point about needing to have bee married by the age of 20 if you wanted to be anybody as a woman.  A female speaker from the floor had a story about sharing a flat in Moscow with another (male) English student and when she went away for the weekend a local girl moved in on him, but she didn’t mind because the native girl did the shopping and the cooking and the cleaning.

Men of course never needed to be liberated from domestic labour because they’d never done any…

At the end, sad agreement on the self-mutilation of a society and a people, something magnificent going to waste.

VISIT TO PERM, RUSSIA in SEPTEMBER 2015

January 20, 2015

Karen Hewitt writes:

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre [of St Antony’s College, Oxford] together with the University’s Department for Continuing Education is arranging for a group of eight people to visit Perm as guests of the Perm State University. They will live in families with at least one English speaker and will have many opportunities to observe real Russian life. The visit is part of an exchange scheme in which the payment made by you supports the visit of a Perm teacher to Oxford.

 The visit is open to anyone but we give preference to people in Oxfordshire or with an Oxford connection such as attendance at OUDCE summer schools. The programme of the fortnight can vary according to individual interests. As guests of Perm University you will be asked to talk to University students, while your activities can include: visits around the city, and to the Urals countryside; canoeing along the Silva river; professional and specialist contacts with economists, lawyers, local politicians, (and lectures if you are willing and able); visits to art galleries, concerts, ballet; studying the work of the city council and local voluntary groups; taking part in family life with your hosts and their friends. Previous visitors on this scheme have seized all sorts of opportunities to see how Russian society works. Several have returned for a second visit.

 A knowledge of Russian is not necessary since interpreters will be provided, but obviously you will learn more if you know a little Russian. Participants should be physically fit and willing to walk reasonable distances. Many of our hosts do not have cars, and walking, climbing flights of stairs and public transport are normal. And you should be adaptable…

DATES: Saturday 5th September to Sunday 20th September 2015 (Fifteen nights) The journey is by British Airways scheduled flight to Moscow. You will travel from Moscow to Perm by train – about 900 miles and the first day of the Trans-Siberian route. You will have a few hours in Moscow on the return journey.

 COST: £990 This includes air fares, train fares, other travel in Russia, accommodation with a family, breakfast and many other meals, a programme of activities including two visits to the opera or ballet, and two full day tours. It does not include visas, insurance, and some meals. We will arrange your visas and inform you in June of the cost. Currently official visas are £50 plus admin and special delivery postage – in total about £80. Commercial visas are less hassle and about twice as much. All this will be explained.

 NOTE: The group will be limited to seven or eight people, so if you are interested, PLEASE FILL IN THE FORM OVERLEAF AND SEND IT TO PROMPTLY to Karen Hewitt (address overleaf), For specific enquiries, please ring 01865 515635. For more general information there will be a meeting in late June or early July for those going to Perm in which useful details of all kinds will be passed on.

Group Form

Experiences in 2012

The world as seen from Perm, Part II

November 9, 2014

permmap

A year after the first one, we have come across another remarkable Permian map showing its present twin cities of Louisville, Oxford, Duisburg, Amneville, Agrigento and Qingdao.  (You can enjoy the original here.)

Detail

Detail

Well,  Oxford is on the right island…

Pro-Russian party founded in England!

May 17, 2014

zarossiu

This advert from the edition of Pulse dated 15 May announces the creation of a party called ‘For Russia’ so as to champion and defend the rights and freedoms of Russian and Russian-speaking people living in Great Britain.  The party is founded on outspoken support for the policy of the Russian Federation and President Putin.  The website looks just like Edinaya Rossiya, especially the bear.

Well, if this is aimed at Russian citizens, they can hardly put forward candidates for election in this country, so perhaps they intend underground conspiracy leading to armed insurrection.  And if it’s for UK citizens, then you wonder where the Treason Act is when you need it–or that nice Mr Farage…

Best not to take this kind of nonsense too seriously!

Perm State University Language and Culture Winter School

December 13, 2013
Perm State University snow scene

Perm State University snow scene

Karen Hewitt kindly sent me details of a proposed Perm Winter School to comment on.  I am in almost complete agreement with her comments below, and I would add:

i) they need to decide whether they’re aiming at real or recreational students. Looks like the latter at present, but whatever the answer is they need to be a lot more specific about course content/aims/methodology/etc

ii) it’s stupid to assemble people at the University and then take them off somewhere else for the ‘real business’. Give them lectures (if necessary through an interpreter) on the Permian Era and Extinction/Mikhail Fridman (was at PSU, pioneer of General Relativity)/those wooden statues/the armaments industry then and now/their experiences in Afghanistan/etc/–or just the time-honoured ‘Round Table’ with students (and/or staff). Or have a lecture course on something like Modern Russian Society…

iii) similarly to the above, I think something called a Winter School should have some superstructure of lectures, competitions, quizzes, tests, reading lists–not just classes and excursions

iv) they don’t say anything about tests or formal academic credits

v) you also need a ‘find your level’ guide–and something about how people will be assigned to groups

vi) I think the selling point has to be something like ‘Real Russia with Real Russians’, where your horses can gallop for 3 weeks in any direction without reaching another town, never mind country. All this stuff about Zhivago and bear statues is a bit embarrassing in my opinion

vii) they should say a bit more about the homestays–who the host families will be & what to expect

viii) while I’m dead keen on Aims, I don’t understand the ones given here and I don’t think I’d agree with them if I did

ix) they don’t say that they’re going to supply visa support/invitations–I presume they are

x) they need to say what the weather/temperature/hours of daylight are going to be (and that it will be nice and warm indoors).

Well, I have lots of thoughts, but you may have different ones that may be better advice. So I am attaching this draft, and if you have ANY comments, do let me know. Don’t worry about the mistakes in English and unidiomatic English. I can sort that out.

My comments would be – Remove the photo of the huge modern cathedral in Moscow and the lamppost non-Perm one. Put attractive photos of Perm streets/buildings in their place. AGREE

Better, in general, to do the lessons in the morning and the excursions after lunch. It won’t be too dark because Perm is such a long way west of sun-time. And you can think better in the morning. AGREE

You need some information about levels of Russian and teaching methods. And presumably there ought to be some time for homework and study. AGREE. Also class sizes, how they are made to be of ‘similar’ standard, what happens if there’s no-one else at your kind of level, who the teachers are. 30 contact hours (are these 60- or 45-minute hours?) is not much of a payload for a trip of two weeks.

I wouldn’t begin on Monday with the Perm University museum or botanical garden. Both are worth seeing, but neither is SPECIALLY striking in comparison with what we can do in Britain. Better to get a sense of the city and what will seem exotic to visitors. AGREE.

I think there should be a maximum of 2 day trips. Participants will spend a long time in the coach looking at white and black scenes. AGREE. Day trips are an easy way of getting a visiting group off your hands, but they need to engage with the local population if they’re going to learn anything.

I’ve been to all the places, and would rate the Museum of Political Repressions high on the list, for its intrinsic historical interest and because there is a good road with fine scenery. AGREE.

They are planning lots of theatre trips and cultural entertainments. But perhaps spending some evenings with ‘ordinary Russians’ would also be much appreciated. Or taking their hosts out to dinner. Or a barbecue in the snow…. PARTLY AGREE. Best if they can go to the theatre etc with ‘ordinary’ (even English-speaking) Russians and share the experience with them.

I think the price is OK. AGREE.

Remember that this visit will take place when snow lies thickly on the ground – so the participants won’t be able to see some of the things you saw – but they will be able to ski cross-country, for example.

The world seen from Perm

November 28, 2013

permap

This map comes from a brochure that I got from the Mayor of Perm after I’d had a grilling from him (on the general subject of public finances) in the upstairs room of a pub while his teenage daughter looked on and died of boredom.  He was worried about being overshadowed by Ekaterinburg and felt that Perm’s main problem was its physical layout in being so drawn-out while E-burg was much more concentrated.

The map has its points of interest. Perm certainly isn’t that shape and then they’ve managed to put themselves at the edge of their own map, but not near enough the edge to eliminate E-burg.  There’s something endearingly half-hearted about that.  Maybe they were trying to show their twin cities, but they left out Qingdao, the Chinese one, and in fact the Mayor was just about to follow Boris Johnson’s example by flying out there in search of some money.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my meeting with the Mayor!  To start off with, I rang his hotel and they said they had no such guest.  Then we kind-of established contact via his Russian mobile and the connection kept dropping.  Finally, when we were trying to meet in Oxford Street, his mobile broke completely…It was just like being back in Perm, especially with the unpleasant weather and 98% of Oxford St shoppers being foreign.