12 in 15 Magazine: Writing by Siberian Students
Curating the Cold War for Siberian Students 1992–2015
by Sarah Lindemann-Komarova
It is with great pleasure, and a certain degree of amazement, that I present this on-line magazine of student writing from Novosibirsk State University. The work was submitted during my elective course, “American Culture During the Cold War: How politics influenced culture and culture influenced politics” in the fall 2015. My amazement comes from how quickly time has passed since I first presented this class in 1992, the pleasure derives from discovering that the students today are just as smart and curious as their predecessors. That constant, amidst the astounding changes that have taken place outside the classroom over the last 20 years, gives me hope for the future that belongs to these 12 women it was my privilege to work with.
The original ink cover below is an updated version of a design by Igor Volgin for a mimeographed magazine created by him and some of my other students in 1992. The 12 in 15 Magazine consists of three parts and a postscript. With a few exceptions, the pieces presented in each of the sections were written in response to specific homework assignments. The work in Part I (pieces 1–12) came after students were introduced to Tom Wolfe’s work and description of the “New Journalism” that evolved in the 60's and 70's. This codified a shift away from traditional journalism to include scene construction, dialogue and details reflecting brands and status. The students were asked to observe life around them and capture for the reader “your Akademgorodok in the winter of 2015”. Included here is also a movie review of the 1966 film comedy, “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming”. My personal recommendation is to see it if you haven’t seen it and to watch it again if you have.
Part II (pieces 13–20) is mostly essays and editorials that were written at the end of the semester. The students were asked to reflect on everything they had seen, heard and read about politics and culture in the four decades covered of Cold War America (50's, 60's, 70's and 80's) and write in any format about anything they wanted. The results are as interesting and varied as the young women themselves.
The New York School of poets and artists was one aspect of 1950's culture that was presented and discussed. That included the work of Poet and Museum of Modern Art Curator Frank O’Hara and his “I do this, I do that” style demonstrated here in a poem he wrote about Nikita Khrushchev’s 1960 trip to New York.
Khrushchev is coming on the right day!
the cool graced light
is pushed off the enormous glass piers by hard wind
and everything is tossing, hurrying on up
has everything but politesse, a Puerto Rican cab driver says
and five different girls I see
look like Piedie Gimbel
with her blonde hair tossing too,
as she looked when I pushed
her little daughter on the swing on the lawn it was also windy
last night we went to a movie and came out,
Ionesco is greater
than Beckett, Vincent said, that’s what I think, blueberry blintzes
and Khrushchev was probably being carped at
in Washington, no
Vincent tells me about his mother’s trip to Sweden
Hans tells us
about his father’s life in Sweden, it sounds like Grace Hartigan’s
so I go home to bed and names drift through my
Purgatorio Merchado, Gerhard Schwartz and Gaspar Gonzales,
all unknown figures of the early morning as I go to work
where does the evil of the year go
when September takes New York
and turns it into ozone stalagmites
deposits of light
so I get back up
make coffee, and read François Villon, his life, so dark
New York seems blinding and my tie is blowing up the street
I wish it would blow off
though it is cold and somewhat warms
as the train bears Khrushchev on to Pennsylvania Station
and the light seems to be eternal
and joy seems to be inexorable
I am foolish enough always to find it in wind
Part III (pieces 21–31) are “I do this, I do that” style poems by the students including one that became a song with a link to the author’s recording.
I invite you to scroll through and enjoy the work of these 12 remarkable young women as they reflect on their world and another foreign world that was presented to them. Writing in a language that is not their own we are reminded, once again, that there is really only one world.
Table of Contents
Part I: Pieces inspired by “New Journalism”, plus a poem and a movie review.
- Polyclinic by Victoria Podaneva
- My Mom by Ksusha Osit
- The Cash Line in a Shop During the Economic Crisis by Masha Belousova
- My Girls by Natalia Pimonova
- Other People’s Bullshit by Liya Shaikhydinova
- My Dance Crew by Natasha Evstropova
- How To Become a Dancer by Elena Goncharova
- The Portrait of a Moral Person by Sasha Blagovidova
- JFK (a poem) by Natasha Evstropova
- UFO (a fiction piece) by Christina Bertrand
- Summer by Evgeniya Korol-Mira
- Film review “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” by Elena Kostina
Part II: Editorials, Essays and One Poem
13. Some Suggestions for the University by Rita Shaikhydinova
14. The Breaking Point by Natalia Pimonova
15. American Women in the 20th Century by Masha Belousova
16. Women in Advertisements of the 1950's by Victoria Podaneva
17. Body Negative by Elena Kostina
18. May the Force…. by Ksusha Osit
19. “My 8 year old Anfisa…” a poem by Sasha Blagovidova
20. Would you argue for the removal of “To Kill a Mockingbird” from the required reading list and school curriculum or for its retention? by Rita Shaikhydinova
Part III: Poems (and one song) inspired by Frank O’Hara’s “I do this, I do that” style
21. “Winter in Russia is….” by Liya Shaikhydinova
22. “Every morning…” by Elena Goncharova
23. “Noise, loud music, people in a bus…” by Evgeniya Korol-Mira
24. “The way I walk, the way I look…” Victoria Podaneva
25. Cater 2 U (a song) by Natalia Pimonova
26. “Your ring finger is touching an eyelid…” By Elena Kostina
27. “You’ve just forgot, but doubt is still glimming…” by Masha Belousova
28. “Once tasted it is never left again…” by Christina Bertrand
29. “Nothing is true-everything is permitted…” by Natasha Evstropova
30. “Let us fall asleep at this party…” by Rita Borisenkova
31. Happiness Inside Me by Evgeniya Koral-Mira
Part I: Pieces inspired by “New Journalism”
by Victoria Podaneva
She is a twenty-year-old student waiting for her turn in a long queue in a general hospital. Although a young dermatologist assured her that it was nothing but an allergic reaction (which can be provoked by stress, a heavy workload at the university and an unhealthy diet), her mother keeps insisting on it being syphilis and she herself, analyzing the experience of her previous lifestyle even presumes that it can easily be HIV. Now it doesn’t matter. The only thing she’s worried about are all the Chinese and English classes she is going to miss because the working hours of a medical attendant for an injection in this hospital are at the same time as the classes.
All the services here are free. The only price you pay for being examined by a doctor or getting an injection is plenty of time and a good deal of nerves. Even payment in these two forms of currency doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be treated properly and respectfully. It all depends on the nurse’s state of mind, the mood of the person sitting next to you in the queue and even on the fact that, “Annushka has already bought the sunflower oil, and has not only bought it, but has already spilled it.”
The people who have come here today are mostly pensioners. There is even a type of old person who is bored sitting at home, so they come to a hospital for a urine test or to get an injection without a doctor’s prescription (“I know myself better. Those doctors will drive me to the grave someday!”). It’s twenty minutes before the meal period which lasts for half an hour. There are five more babushkas and one dedushka. What are the chances that the girl will make it before the break starts? None. So she’s waiting patiently, looking at the old people who used to be like her about 50 years ago. Well, maybe a bit smarter and more creative, or maybe not — who cares? They all look the same now, talking about their health problems and arguing about the same old things which are not interesting even to themselves. But one of the babushkas (if you have the heart to call her that) stands out of the crowd for some reason. She looks like the Russian embodiment of Lana Del Rey in her 70s (the most beautiful American singer who can only be compared to Marilyn Monroe, but anyway, Monroe has nothing on 29-year-old Lana today). Her glossy blonde hair put back in a bun, smoky-eyes, dark red lipstick and some make-up foundation that managed to hide most of her wrinkles, brown woolen cardigan, grey velvet trousers and high heels — that’s what made her different from the rest. She looks nervously at her watch and says, ‘Ladies and a gentleman, let’s make this process faster! If all of you take off your coats and jackets before entering a procedure room, we will all be satisfied before the meal period starts.’
Then she turns to an old lady who is supposed to be the next.
Lana: Ma’am, you’re the next! Why don’t you get ready and take your coat off?
Next: I don’t want to leave my clothes here. Who knows what might happen!
Lana: Oh god, what can happen here?
Next: Nowadays people have their things stolen in the blaze of the day!
Lana: I’ll take care of your clothes! Just go!
Next: Ok, but promise me I’ll find a luxurious fur coat instead of mine when I come out of the room.
Lana: No problem, ma’am.
The procedure goes really fast and already in three minutes the sign “available” comes on above the door of the procedure room.
Lana: See?! It was faster than you all thought! So, people, get ready in advance please.
Next: Where is my fur coat?
Lana: Oops, I’m sorry but it’s crisis actually…Soo, who’s next? Madam (she turns to an old lady, who is definitely younger than our “Lana” but looks much worse), are you going to take your clothes off or not? If you don’t, I won’t manage to get my injection on time and all my plans for the day will be ruined!
Madam: Oh my god, shut your mouth, woman! You have already pissed everybody off! I’m sick and tired of your nagging!
Lana (peacefully): if you don’t have anything else to do today, it doesn’t mean that the others are the same.
Then she sits quietly and keeps silent for a while. Four minutes for one lady, six minutes for the snobbish woman who refused to “get ready”, and now it is Lana’s turn. She jumps from her chair straight to the procedure room and comes out in a blink of an eye, satisfied and happy.
Lana: There now! This all can be much faster! Good buy! Have a nice day!
And she disappears in the corridor which smells of alcohol and blood. It’s 5 minutes before the break (only enough time for one person to be provided with a service), the nurse comes out of the room and says, “We are closing! Come in an hour!”
Girl: Oh shit! Not only Chinese, but also Intercultural Communication theory class. Are you kiddin me?!
All the babushkas go away. The only one who stays in the “queue” with the girl is an old, small, thin and bald man. He wears round glasses, check shirt, brown pullover and jeans, looking more like a hipster from the Department of Journalism than a Russian grandpa. Maybe old people in the US or in Germany look like this, but definitely not Russian. What is even more surprising, he pulls a wireless radio receiver out of his pocket. It is the type that was popular 30 years ago and probably not available to everyone. Anyway, you won’t see such a device today, especially one that works. He tunes it to some unknown station and starts listening to almost incomprehensible sounds echoing around the corridor. Unbelievable! He looks so extraordinary, so amazing and astonishing. He could teach those young hipsters a thing or two. Those young guys who try to look smart and unique, wearing glasses without lenses and pretending to listen to vinyl records (look at me! I am sooo offbeat, I read the books that nobody reads and use the things that nobody uses! I could even bring my gramophone with me, but I’m afraid it’s too heavy for my weak arms to carry, because I’m trendily skinny).
But this old guy doesn’t seem to make any effort to create such an impression. He’s just sitting here, waiting for his turn. Maybe he’s going to a pub with his friends this evening, maybe he will read aloud to his wife, maybe he will show his grandson (if he has one) how to construct a radio receiver with his own hands. Nobody knows. But the only thing the young girl is now sure about is that she doesn’t have HIV, and when she’s old, she and her husband will look like that old Lana and this old man, except for the details (radio receiver will probably be substituted by an iPad and smoky-eyes won’t be in fashion).
2. My Mom
by Ksusha Osit
I was raised in a big family where everyone is welcomed and taken care of, so I can happily admit that my mother and I are really close and love to spend time together…. Unless we are getting on each other’s nerves. *wink*
My mom is quite talkative, so every time we go shopping she talks to shop assistants and sometimes other customers. I am usually just an observer but from time to time I calm my mom if she gets too energetic and excited.
A few days ago we went shopping. Usually we buy things on the weekend, but this time we went in the evening on a workday.
I enjoy observing people’s response to my mother’s love of conversation with strangers. This time I was especially curious to see how people would react to human interactions when they are close to the end of the day and are almost exhausted.
First there was this girl who makes fresh juice. It was obvious she was extremely tired because she had to peel all the fruits herself, nevertheless/still she was smiley and friendly and tried to look as if she was full of energy. Poor thing was peeling two whole granites. We didn’t know/realize she would have to do that, otherwise we would have ordered something less difficult. Even so, the girl was still joking and laughing and it was rather pleasant to wait for the juice with her.
Then we visited a perfume shop selling makeup and other things. The shop was empty and we were the only costumers, but the assistants looked weary hinting they had not had an easy day. Still, the girl who worked with us kept the conversation going, helped us choose the things we needed, explained something that was not clear and was genuinely friendly.
Finally, we stopped by a bijouterie stand. My mom, who is extremely spiritually close to a magpie or a crow, couldn’t just walk past such a shiny and sparkly stand without stopping. The shopkeeper was a middle aged woman with a disgruntled face. Mom joked and talked as usual, but the woman was some kind of conversation-proof and wouldn’t reply to anything except for the questions concerning her merchandise. And she didn’t look tired at all, like she just came here an hour ago and planned to leave an hour after but we happened to come along.
Mother’s jokes almost always lessens the tension some shop assistants create during their not easy work (we all know a lot of customers can be a pain in various parts of the body). This warms my heart but some people choose the wrong job. I think that if you are not ready to work with people, don’t complain if your work requires it.
3. The Cash Line in a Shop During the Economic Crisis
by Masha Belysova
5 p.m., downtown, Novosibirsk, Siberia, the period of economic crisis in Russia makes the prices increase and people are upset.
It is 5 p.m., and I’m the fourth to arrive in front of the cashier to buy some products for dinner. Something happened to the credit card of a customer, or maybe there are some technical difficulties so, pensioners in the line decide to chat. They always chat about some news of the day or weather or illnesses but today they were excited by the topic of products and their prices.
Pensioner 1: I noticed that your basket isn’t full today!
Pensioner 2: Oh, you’re right! Today I can’t afford to buy cheese and buckwheat.
Pensioner 1: That’s awful! I really understand you, I wanted to buy some ham but can afford only 200g instead of the usual 500g.
Pensioner 2: Yes, the situation with prices is getting worse.
Pensioner 1: The crisis is chasing our country. I suspect that our shops want to make a profit at our expense.
Pensioner 2: I agree with you. Your suspicions may be right.
Me: Maybe you are wrong? This shop offers some discounts and promotions every day. Yesterday, for example, a good kind of cheese was on sale for an affordable price.
They were looking at me and considering what I was saying. The cashier fixed the problem and the pensioners brought their products. Before leaving one of them turned towards me and said, “You are right. I remember buying products here for a good price some time ago”.
I made my purchase and some of my products were bought with the discount.
4. My Girls
by Natalia Pimonova
I have had three best friends since my early childhood. “My girls” and I studied at the same school, in the same class, then we moved all together to Novosibirsk but entered different Universities. Now we don’t meet each other every day and when it is possible (everyone’s got free time) we find a day to meet and chat. Since we are still best friends and there is not much time to talk, we talk a lot and fast. All three of “my girls” have boyfriends now, and two of them (I mean two couples) already live together. I don’t have a boyfriend so I don’t have much to say on this topic, but I listen to them closely…The following dialogue happened a few weeks ago:
Alisa: Oh I’m so tired of studying all the time, I have no time to do anything else. And now I have to get up earlier to cook breakfast for Sasha (her boyfriend). Sometimes I don’t even have a time to do my face.
Polina: You cook every day?? Are you mad? I have no time to cook every day, there is always too much homework. Vova and I just buy some food in the supermarket or cook something super simple and fast, or my mother cooks for us.
Everyone laughs at their young “almost family”.
Polina №2: I would not cook for my boyfriend everyday.? Am I a slave or wife? No. I have my own studies and life too. We cook together or one at a time.
This was the moment when I could have agreed, but I preferred to stay silent.
Alisa: Yeah, and that’s why you won’t have a boyfriend for a long time. Who wants a girlfriend who doesn’t cook?
Polina№2: And who needs a girlfriend who always studies and has no time to anything else? We all are hopeless here.
Everyone laughs again.
Polina: Ok, in this case I suggest we buy some sushi and wine! No cooking or studies today…
Yes! The best decision for today, that’s how we find a way not to quarrel and understand our different points of view. Jokes always help.
5. Others People’s Bullshit
by Liya Shaikhydinova
It’s around 1 p.m. and I’m standing in the line in the café “Aquarium”. The line is so long that I’m not even standing IN the café. Unfortunately, I forgot my headphones, so I’m basically forced to listen to the other peoples’ bullshit.
Blonde1: Yeah, I’m definitely going to Thailand this winter.
Blonde2: Oh my God, I’m so jealous! Winter is dull, I wish I could go with you!
Blonde1: Yeah, I know, it would be awesome, but I’m going with Artem, so it will be romantic.
Blonde2: Is this your first trip together?
Blonde1: Yes! And it makes me so nervous! I don’t know what to bring, I need a new swimsuit and the most important thing is that I have to loose some weight as soon as possible!
Blonde2: Oh, come on, you look fine!
Blonde1: Are you insane?! I need to loose at least 3 kg! Can you imagine how many photos there will be? I don’t want to look fat in my photos!
Blonde2: Actually, I understand. I’m currently on a diet and try to lead a healthy way of life, you know, gym and stuff.
Blonde1: Yeah, me too. I totally do not eat carbs and signed up for the gym. I’m actually standing here to buy a bottle of water.
Blonde2: Oh, good for you, I totally respect it when girls try to stay in fit and do not eat crap.
Blonde1: Oh, thank you, honey! It’s hard for me but it’s getting better now.
Blonde2: I’m so sorry, I’ve just got a text, need to go, it was nice meeting you, have a nice trip!
Blonde 2 left the line and we finally approached the cashier. Blonde1 was in front of me so she ordered first.
Blonde1: Hello, can I have 2 round sandwiches, 1 potato pastry and 1 meat pastry and one bottle of water.
6. My Dance Crew
by Natasha Evstropova
AG is a unique dance crew, that was born in 2013 in Novosibirsk. This crew focuses on different styles such as hip-hop, locking, house, Asian dancing and so on. Also, the team leader always says “it doesn’t matter what kind of style you prefer to dance, in all of them dancers use quickly flexing muscles in time to music”. AG loves to test themselves in what they call ‘battles’, where two dancers or several crews face off against each other and judges from the community decide who comes out on top. Leader described it this way, that the battles are a good test of a dancer’s speed, strength and will-power. “When my crew is in a battle, I always tell them if you forget a part of dance it doesn’t matter, do it as it should be done. The main aim is to have fun!” she said.
One sunny day I visited this unusual crew. It consists of 12 people. The leader of this crew is my best friend and I am in on good terms with her. After a hard warm-up, we were trying to learn a new part of an Asian dance when the light bulb on the ceiling caught fire. We didn’t notice this for several minutes and didn’t understand what was happening. But then:
Girl#1: OMG! Fire! We are burning!
Girl#2: What should we do? Where is a fire extinguisher? It always stayed near the mirror.
Girl#3 (happily): We are so hot that the bulbs start burning. We are so cool! We are AG!
Boy (only one in our crew): I found it!
Girl#5: Where is the sand?
Boy: A fire extinguisher.
We put out the fire and began to clean up the hall because it was all in white dust.
7. How to Become a Dancer ?
by Elena Goncharova
It was my niece’s birthday. My niece Arina and my nephew Roma were sleeping in their bedroom. I entered the room and switched on the TV where there was a birthday song. Suddenly, I saw that with the very first cords Roma`s leg started to twitch. I thought, “How did he wake up so fast”? In fact, he hadn’t woken up yet. He danced in his sleep.
And I thought, do you want to know how to dance? It`s simple! Just watch. Just notice some details. Just enjoy music. And if you twitch your leg to music when you sleep, you really love it and you want to do it. It’s all in your head! Just do what you want.
8. The Portrait of a Moral Person
by Sasha Blagovidova
Recently my 6-grader daughter returned home from school and asked me,
- Mum, how does one paint a portrait of a moral person?
- At Social studies we have a home task to paint a portrait of a moral person, a person with high moral principles.
- Are you kidding? How can morality be presented in paint? It’s a figurative meaning, you should describe this in words and give examples.
A week passed and the conversation continued,
- Mum, do you know you were wrong? We had to paint this portrait; some of our class made this portrait.
- Sure? Whom did they paint?
After 5-minutes laughing I asked,
- All of them?
- No, one girl tried to draw Gagarin but failed.
I sighed and then thought, “Why not? Theoretically, it’s all right, the head of the state must be the most moral person in the country. This is what children must learn at school…”
The following poem was written for the final assignment, “choose any format and write about something from this class, what thoughts did it inspire? what had resonance”
by Natalia Evstropova
50s went away,
and president new came.
He ruled with pleasure,
protected his nation.
He was loved by children
and was respected by adults.
He was a strong nice guy
who knew WHAT and HOW.
He was the 1st real man
who loved everyone.
The following is the only fiction piece written.
by Christina Bertrand
This happened yesterday evening, May 6, just when I was getting back home from work between 10:10 and 10:30 pm. The streets were unusually empty, as they are at night in this neighborhood.
I was going along 5th Ave toward Spring Street feeling like I was being followed by someone. Just as I approached the crossing a dark figure appeared out of nowhere, ran past me and disappeared the same way, I hope he/she didn’t take a picture of me, I continued walking when a sudden “bang!” thundered in the silence.
I tried to find out where the sound came from. It didn’t take long, noise and shouting followed out from house #176 but no more gunshot like sounds. I hid in a hedge, seemed to be left unnoticed. This lasted for a while until the electricity went out in an instant. I have never been so quiet before — no movement or breath.
The thing that happened next frightened me to death. I expected at least a car to drive out of the backyard of that house. Instead, there was an amazingly shiny totally black metal UFO, an alien-craft-looking thing, just like in sci-fi movies. The object flew out of sight in less then a second. I lay astonished under the bushes until my husband phoned me at about 11 p.m.
This morning all the newspapers and websites will be talking about this occurrence. Obviously, about its witness as well.
by Evgeniya Korol-Mira
9 o’clock Saturday evening at a summer cottage near the small city of Berdsk. A dirty-pink sunset and the purple clouds are painting some kind of surrealism. My mother is reading a book, my dog is sleeping next to her. The birds are singing their last song before going to hide in the trees. Night is drawing on.
“It’s getting dark already” my mother said, “I am going to sleep. And what about you?” she asked me. All these clouds and birds, the rustles and the flashes, the scents and a breeze take me away. It reminded me of another day 15 years ago. My brother and I were playing tennis. Suddenly he said, “Look at this sunset! It is extremely purple.” “Yes, it is” I answered. “It always surprises me” he added, “How can nature create such a strange ?”
Nikolaiy Roerich…his pictures are all over us. They are hidden in the top of the trees, they catch our eyes in the evening, they come down to us in the Altay Mountains and the Baikal Lake, and they can get your attention at home when you glance through a window.
10.30 Saturday evening at the summer cottage near the small city of Berdsk, I’m still awake. I’m thinking about all these summer evenings I have spent here. I’m thinking about new people who came into my life and about somebody who left me. I notice that our trees are taller than 5 years ago. I’m looking at our new house and the pool. Everything is changing more or less. But the most beautiful, crazy, inexpressible, incredible, delightful change is the palette of sunset. It is never repeated.
The following piece was submitted for the final assignment,“choose any format and write about something from this class, what thoughts did it inspire? what had resonance”.
12. Elena Kostina wrote a review of a 1966 film she watched as a homework assignment.
«The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming» A Movie Review
A Soviet submarine commander, hoping to get a better glimpse of the United States, comes too close to the fictional Gloucester Island and the submarine gets stranded. The situation is disastrous and the commander sends a small crew to find a power boat strong enough to tow the submarine off the sandbar. The crew’s leader is Lieutenant Rozanov, who is desperately doing his best to prevent an international incident. However, a series of hilarious misunderstandings inspired the villagers to think their sleepy vacation island had been “invaded”. The villagers are convinced that “the whole island is under attack by Russians” and Lieutenant Rozanov has to take control of the situation.
«The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming», directed by Norman Jewison, is an excellent example of a comedy that plays on the fears and prejudices of”Cold War” panic, stereotypes about Russians and how policy can make essentially good people enemies. A pleasant surprise is that in the movie there are no drunken men, caviar or bears, the classic Western attributes of Russian identity. Soviet soldiers are portrayed as a bit cartoonish, speaking with strong accents, but they are not enemies. They are shown to be nice, positive people trapped in a difficult situation.
Even though it is dealing with serious problems, the film is uplifting and you can’t help smiling when you watch it. It turns a little melodramatic towards the end and leaves you in the mood to think. The central idea of the film are expressed in the words of a sailor, Alexei Kolchin, when he says to a local girl, “I do not want to hate.”
It is interesting that the film was released at the height of the Cold War and that despite hostility between the countries, the Russians were portrayed in a positive light. The film was appreciated by critics and received four Oscar nominations.
Part II: Editorials
Most of these pieces were submitted as final papers, “choose any format and write about something from this class, what thoughts did it inspire? what had resonance”. One exception is the first piece that was submitted as a New Journalism piece. It is included here because the format is an editorial.
13. Some suggestions for the University
by Rita Borisenkova
Today the majority of universities are not conducive to the full learning experience because they are woefully ill equipped. The buildings and campuses are old and unattractive, there is lack of modern gadgets (smartboards, stable Internet connection etc.), and places where the student can have some rest. Although having the right facilities is only a part of creating a student’s success, they can be active contributors to the learning process.
For example, we have to use multimedia almost every class and not all rooms in our university provide it.
Last week, I came into the room and saw a new smartboard that had been recently installed. All my groupmates were discussing its appearance and its advantages for us.
“Let’s switch it on!” — said one of my groupmates.
“Yeah! That would be great! Let’s try it!” — we all shouted.
However, it did not turn on. At all. We all were extremely disappointed.
Then our teacher came into the class and exclaimed, “Oh, you have already tried it? You are beating a dead horse. The smartboard was not properly installed so it will not work. It has to be here for show.”
So, now schools and universities are often equipped only “for show”, not for the student’s benefit.
Current research indicates that facilities contribute to the creation of a positive atmosphere and teaching subtle things such as the physical placement of student service facilities. I propose that radical changes be made to take into account these factors. It is vital that the university be a place where students would like to stay as long as possible.
First, I suggest that buildings, campuses and the surrounding areas should be more attractive. Students do not want to learn in old, grey buildings where it is sometimes impossible to connect to Wi-Fi and the blackboards are so old it is hard to use them properly. I therefore propose the buildings be renovated and equipped with modern computers, printers and smartboards. It also seems sensible to supply schools and universities with new furniture and to plant trees and flowers in front of the buildings.
14. The Breaking Point
By Natalia Pimonova
The most interesting, even breathtaking, part of this semester was the history of a breaking point between the 1950s-60s, generation gap and everything . It’s almost impossible for me to understand how all of American life could change so fast.
This traditional society of 50s with families, houses in the suburbs, husband at work and wife at home, beautiful dresses and curly hair, red lipstick… The whole image from a dream or a commercial. And then the crazy 60s with political, social and economic changes, changes in every possible corner of life. All these changes were not that sudden and were for a good reason. Just imagine, a strict and puritanical society where you should live according to the same rules and “plot”, where all the roles that you can play are already determined. It is logical that the new generation, young people rebelled against it. And it created a mess/there came a mess…hippies, political changes, new music, art, attitudes to family, relationships, even drugs appeared as a common thing ( in the 50s no one thought about it). As a result self –destruction… any society needs laws and limits to control abnormal things like killing and drug addiction or immorality will become normal.
15. American Women in the 20th Century
by Masha Belysova
American women were extremely decisive throughout the whole 20th century. I would like to write about it because it is really inspiring.
Why do I draw attention to this sex? The answer is simple. It was a black woman who refused to give her place to a white man in a bus in the 1950s. It was women who were struggling for their rights. It was women in the 1970s who achieved their goal and top traditionally male universities, such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton accepted women.
I know that women were considered the weak sex until now, but in fact this is not true. Despite the fact that women today are supposed to be housewives and do all the household chores, they are also expected to work. So, today there are many women who have families and jobs. However, men still say they are the only money earners and supporters of the family. I am sure women always were, and are still, morally stronger than men.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the “weak” sex has always been strong and American women during the 20th century are a great example of these strengths.
16. Women in Advertisements of the 1950s
by Victoria Podaneva
The end of World War II caused many drastic changes in American society. Two of these changes involved an advertising industry boom and the peak of gender inequality. Although these facts are not quite connected, one of them found vivid reflection in another. I am talking about sexism in advertising at the beginning of the 50s.
The tension of the Cold War, the fear of nuclear war and teaching children how to “duck and cover” didn’t, however, prevent people from feeling that it was still a time of prosperity and increasing incomes. The Americans, as representatives of a future-oriented nation, believed in their bright future and hoped for the best.
The “Baby Boom” that took place in the postwar years caused a great population increase and a large group of Americans moved to the suburbs. That led to the emergence of shopping malls and supermarkets. People were eager to spend money on things that would make their life more cheerful and pleasurable, so the ads quickly adjusted to their needs and made them want to buy things even more. The most popular products at that time were household appliances, accessories and furniture, canned and frozen food and other things that could let people spend less time on the daily routine and enjoy their leisure time together with their families.
Most men came home from the war which made it possible to return to the lifestyle of an idyllic family. Of course, women made the largest impact on creating and maintaining this atmosphere. This role of women was also taken into consideration by ads-makers who sometimes went too far, showing them as purely domestic creatures and this was an insult to strong feminists.
A good example of this kind of advertsing is the ad for Mornidine, a drug that helped women cope with their symptoms of pregnancy. It depicted a “happy” woman cooking in the kitchen and the copy read, “now she can cook breakfast again”. This easily promotes the idea that housekeeping, having children and taking care of them are the only things that housewives are capable of.
Another slogan was, “Christmas morning she’ll be happier with a Hoover”, and shows a woman who is almost ready to kiss that Hoover decorated with a bow. Did people actually believe that a Hoover is really a gift that a woman desires more than anything?
Betty Freidan, one of the most prominent feminists in the 1960s, severely criticized this position severely criticized this position in her book “The Feminine Mystique” and even wrote, “Perhaps it is only a sick or immature society that chooses to make women housewives, not people.”
However, many of the advertisements demonstrated another side of the women’s role and focused on their responsibility and exceptional ability to do things that men simply are not very good at. These ads also showed women as people who manage to keep the house clean and beautiful and cook delicious dinners all at the same time as they are giving birth to and taking care of the future members of American society.
17. Body Negative
by Elena Kostina
A modern standard of beauty is as hard as the mythical Procrustean bed, fall far short of it and you are out of the game. Teenagers will not be forgiven for skin problems, a girl for her extra weight, a man for hair loss … The media usually shows us people who look much better than average: slender, smart, dazzling. But let’s be honest, are there a lot of perfect beauties on the streets? Does it/this mean that we all have to be depressed? Proponents of the body positive movement say ,“Of course not”.
Body positive is a movement aimed at the adoption of your own body and the destruction of negative social stereotypes towards people whose appearance is different from the accepted standard.
These ideas might seem level headed and fair, they promote natural beauty, equality and claim that your personality is more important than your looks. On the one hand they sound very appealing and encouraging, but on the other hand they can be misleading. Skin problems and obesity should not be considered the norm as both reflect health issues or influence overall well-being.
In our age of information intoxication it is easy to believe in fictive ideals. Avoid extremes. Not everybody is beautiful, everyone can be healthy.
18. May the Force……
by Ksusha Osit
While I was flicking through the last presentation about the Cold War from class I had a topic for the final essay in my head. Then I came across the new Star Wars poster completely changed my mind.
As almost everyone now knows, the new Star Wars film is a part of a great franchise so the masses “got aboard the hype train”, as they say on the internet. Everywhere one can see posters, trailers, co-plays and photos that compare the way characters looked in the 70’s and how much the films’ actors have aged. Everyone predicts how great the film will be and asks others not to spoil the film. With all that hype people make charts and graphs comparing films, showing behind the scenes photos etc. A month later everyone will forget about SW and will get hyped about the new Deadpool movie or something else. I can remember a few months ago when the new Fallout game came out which is also a part of a great franchise. It was absolutely the same story with all the same ‘symptoms’.
I’ve never been easy ‘to hype’ about something and I could never understand why people get so crazy about some things. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people having fun and liking something, but not when it gets out of hand. People start internet wars when someone says (s)he’s tired with all that hype or states that something is overrated and — shots are fired. People get even more crazy, defending their preferences and insulting everyone who disagrees.
I also can understand why it may bother people that their hobbies and favorite movies/books/games etc. are criticized, but gosh, it is only a matter of “likes” and “dislikes”! The one thing I cannot understand is human incontinence. It is the same as children debating over whose favourite colour is better and throwing dirt balls at each other. At least the result is the same, nobody changes their mind and everyone gets hit.
Mass hype and preference wars are getting more frequent and people get offended too easily nowadays. I wish I could say people will get over it but it seems inevitable they won’t so… let’s hope for a better future and may the force be with you.
19. A Poem by Sasha Blagovidova
My 8 year old Anfisa
Yesterday found a thing.
In the heap of whispering leaves
It looks like an old coin
With rooster and strange sign on it.
She wasn’t surprised, she said:
“o, at last, the tooth fairy’d brought
Me the gift!”
20. Would You Argue for the Removal of To Kill a Mockingbird from the Required Reading List and School Curricula, or for Its Retention?
by Rita Borisenkova
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. Literary scholars Grace Ann Hovet with Theodore R. Hovet emphasized that, “To Kill a Mockingbird was written and published amidst the most significant and conflict-ridden social change in the South since the Civil War and Reconstruction. Inevitably, despite its mid-1930s setting, the story told from the perspective of the 1950s voices the conflicts, tensions, and fears induced by this transition.” Almost immediately, the book was included in required reading lists. Despite being highly praised by critics, from time to time campaigns for its removal from the school curriculum start up.
On the one hand, To Kill a Mockingbird contains many scenes of racial segregation. The story takes place during the years of the Great Depression (1930s) when racial segregation was widespread, so the book contains episodes where race discrimination is vividly depicted. Moreover, the lexis is full of racial epithets and words that are not considered to be politically correct today.
One more argument for the removal of the book from schools’ classes is its portrayal of the conflict between children and adults. A striking example is the relationship between Arthur Radley and his father. Arthur was locked up in his house for some teenage pranks and his life was ruined forever. This is a clear example of solving problems the wrong way because of a generation gap. Furthermore, children who have read the book may copy the bad behavior of Francis and other naughty, teasing kids. Harper Lee included this theme deliberately because in the 1960s the younger generation (later known as Baby Boomers) did not agree with everything their parents believed in.
These arguments matter if you look at them superficially. The book actually emphasizes tolerance and criticizes racial injustice. A little girl narrates the events in the novel. Very often Scout does not understand racial segregation because she does not understand why some people are better than others because of their skin color. Atticus Finch is an example of a gentlemanly behaviour, the behaviour of an educated, tolerant person. He is a grown-up who judges people by their character, not by their appearance. Moreover, Atticus is an example of a very wise father. His advice on courage, love and friendship can help children and parents overcome a generation gap.
Harper Lee’s book is also a model of amazing language. The author often uses legal terms and its combination with the child’s narration creates wonderful humour. To Kill a Mockingbird is full of satire and irony. The plot flows smoothly and its twists take your breath away.
In summary, although the book is accused of portraying child-parent conflicts and an unkind depiction of African-Americans, it is a remarkable novel with interesting language. This book can change children’s behaviour for the better because it is a wonderful example of tolerance, courage, love and friendship. Moreover, the book played an important role in the success of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. I really enjoyed reading it. The novel touched me with its sincerity and made me cry, and sometimes burst into laughter because of its delicate humour. I believe To Kill a Mockingbird should be left in school the curriculum because it is definitely one of the books that every person should read before they die.
Part III: Poems inspired by Frank O’Hara’s “I do this, I do that” style
21. A Poem by Liya Shaikhydinova
Winter in Russia is
like a white beast..
It wants you to suffer
And fall on your knees.
It dreams during summer
And waits for snow to come,
And when it gets colder
It’s going for a hunt.
22. A Poem by Elena Gonchrova
At the window
In my bathroom
I have for breakfast
Cereals with milk.
But what I really
Would like is to stare
At the ocean
And to tell the truth,
I hate this “every morning”.
And what I want…
I want to say at one time:
“Yes, I was wasting my days,
But now I’m climbing”
And one day at a height
I will be able to say:
“I love my every morning
Because I welcome my new day.”
23. A Poem by Evgeniya Korol-Mira
24. A Poem by Victoria Podaneva
The way I walk, the way I look
Is something that’s the most pretentious.
I eat my dinner in my bed
And at the table sleep at night.
And now I’m not at all self-conscious.
My heart is spitting out the words,
My heart is always tightly shut
My feet don’t even touch the ground
My nails so desperately scratch
I look at shadows that are spinning
I’m trudging through the mess of grief
It seems like no one here is seeing
How plentiful my bleeding is.
I’m woken up by sudden noises
Without a wish of being touched
Please Stop the bleeding at the noses
And pump some blood into my heart.
Becoming senseless and immoral —
Is that what I’ve been dreaming of?
Is there the end to painful sorrow
That we are all committed to.
25. “Cater 2 U” Song
by Natalia Pimonova
Listen to my heart that in my chest
Look into my eyes — they show you’re the best
Never let me go and you will see
That your voice sounds always in me.
Through the distance and through the time
Our love will remain by your side
Through all hardships I want you to know
That your love will remain all my own.
26. A Poem by Elena Kostina
Your ring finger is touching an eyelid
As you say: “I have someone”
Your ring finger is touching my guts
I am a cripple with a broken head
carrying this message like an Easter cake.
“Someone”- she is alive! — I shout to passers-by
Happy as a freaky fetus canned into a jar of formalin.
The last snow is falling on Easter day
In a hope to turn into a snowdrift.
She is beaming again, she’s a gift.
And I’ll be laughing and having fun with you.
27. A Poem by Mariya Belysova
You’ve just forgot, but doubt is still glimming,
Heart trembles recollecting you and me,
I was so close to understand your feeling,
However, I gave up to find the key.
The coming down reminded our dates,
These precious nights were full of warmth and peace,
I’d started hating sun that never waits,
Was always making us just leave and miss.
28. A Poem by Christina Bertrand
Once tasted it is never left again,
Like you had it at a bargain.
Futility and vainness of a man.
I claim: this world is desperate.
Though steps and tries throughout life
Hurt hearts like an insidious knife,
Yet stand your ground, make the fire rise
And hope: there’s nothing you can’t get.
29. A Poem by Natasha Evstropova
Nothing is true — everything is permitted
What does it mean for you?
Power? Happiness? Ability?…
You are not right? — It’s life, it’s our creed.
We work in the dark to serve the light,
The cloaks we wear, both black and white,
For what we do, we believe is right,
For the peace and freedom we must fight.
Together we can change the world,
To save it from the Templars.
We are assassins, brotherhood,
The eagles in the sky.
30. A Poem by Rita Borisenkova
Let us fall asleep at this party,
Let us dream in colours. Let us
fall asleep at this party,
In the night-time the wind is rocking my boat,
I have never wanted to be a normal quy.
I just wanted to be myself. This is a perfect place for us,
There are thousands of bright stars in the sky,
I love you, I will eat you, your 50 kilos is not too much,
and the world is great, we will not be able to eat it.
The world is great, let us fall asleep.
Happiness Inside Me
by Evgeniye Korol-Mira
If I asked you what happiness means to you, could you describe it? I think it’s impossible to describe happiness. I can only describe my feelings and my conditions. I may become happy when I’m simply looking at how my dog plays, or how my little niece laughs. Sometimes I just want to fly, as I feel on top of the world, simply because a random guy holds a subway door open for me.
Humans are strange beings. People can remember things that hurt them for a long time, but can forget something good that has happened the very next day. Some people have nothing. They don’t have money, but they are happy and open for our world and ready to share everything they have. Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but they can be always unhappy for silly trifle.
We create our own lives and we paint them in our own colors. Only you can choose which palette your life will be. You can be happy at any age, at any time.
Many people around the world have very different characteristics, that`s why they feel happiness differently. For example, for me the sea is my happiness. I love all conditions whether it be warm, pacific, storms or cold. The sea makes me very happy. When Spring begins in Siberia it is the happiest moment for me. The birds sing their first songs, the sun is shining bright and you can feel the happiness in the air. People will smile at each other, happy for the warm weather after enduring a long and cold winter.
To be happy or not to be happy, the choice is yours. However I hope that you decide to be happy today and forever.