Postcards from Abroad Series Provided Russian Insight

Diana Kravchenko

Diana Kravchenko

By Alina King

College of Southern Nevada’s unique lecture series Postcards from Abroad transported students to Russia on Feb. 13 as a professor shared her memories of growing up in the USSR.

Diana Kravchenko, formerly known as Diana Booth, is a CSN Russian language instructor and the event’s key presenter. She spoke about many things including her upbringing, her schooling and the expectations placed on young women growing up in that country. She wanted to share her experience in order to open up a part of the world to CSN students who may not know much about it.

“People learn that there are different ways to look at the world,” Kravchenko said. By attending these presentations students are able to broaden their understanding and appreciation of other cultures. Students become more tolerant, more patient and they start dreaming about exploring the world, she added.

The series Postcards from Abroad was developed to provide opportunities for students to hear firsthand accounts from people who have traveled or lived abroad. Details about history, culture, language, religion and other social and political aspects are often discussed.

Kravchenko shared her experience growing up in the Soviet Union, which became the Russian Federation, through personal stories and family photographs.

Attendee CSN English professor James Iddings found insight through the subjects captured in Kravchenko’s personal photographs. “I find it interesting how the faces in her photographs say so much about life in the Soviet Union, perhaps more than touristic photos taken by an outsider might convey,” Iddings said. “There is some deep anthropologic thought involved in these presentations.”

Other topics during the event included a discussion on education, equality and the often misunderstood Russian demeanor.

“Many Russians have been taught that seriousness equals intelligence and professionalism,” Kravchenko said. “Therefore, we rarely smile in formal situations; however, with friends and family members we love to laugh and tell jokes all the time.”

Amy Palmer, an interim counselor at CSN, said her sister found Russia to be a cold and uninviting country when she traveled there on a recruiting trip for camp counselors. For Palmer, Kravchenko’s discussion made her see Russia more favorably.

“As soon as Professor Kravchenko showed several different pictures of her family not smiling and explained that they were instructed not to smile in photographs, I began to develop a deeper understanding of Russian culture,” Palmer said.

The Postcards from Abroad program hosts monthly events during spring and fall semesters. The next lecture in March will feature China and Vietnam will be highlighted in April.

Russian Presentation Flyer 2_Page_1

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