Russian Centers Abroad Open New Forms of Cooperation
On July 15, Astrakhan hosted an online meeting "Russian Culture in the International Space (Experience of Russian Language and Culture Centers Abroad)".
The meeting was organized by the partner of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly, the Center for International and Socio-Political Studies "Caspian-Eurasia", the Association of Youth Governments of Russia with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Astrakhan Region, and the regional scientific library named after. N.K. Krupskaya.
Despite the wide geography of participants (representatives of Russian cultural centers, non-profit organizations, foundations and movements from the countries of the Caspian region, the CIS, Europe and Greater Asia took part in the discussion) , the questions and problems that concern our compatriots abroad turned out to be mostly common.
The Russian language must not be forgotten
Within two hours, the meeting participants shared their experiences and talked about their work, but the “red thread” of the event was the theme of supporting and preserving the Russian language abroad. Thus, its head Ksenia Tyurenkova spoke about the projects of the Caspian-Eurasia Center: about advanced training courses for teachers of Russian as a foreign language, the online quest "Learning to understand Russia - learning to understand each other" for schoolchildren and students from the CIS countries, media schools, as well as the annual Caspian Media Forum and the Caspian Media School.
As Irek Zinnurov, head of the Rossotrudnichestvo office in Baku, noted, there is also a need in Azerbaijan for advanced training courses for teachers of the Russian language: “We met with the Minister of Education of Azerbaijan, We have many schools where education is conducted in Russian, but there is a need to improve the qualifications of teachers. And not just linguists. We need teachers with knowledge of the Russian language in other subjects - physics, chemistry, biology. Therefore, we will be happy to start cooperation in this direction.”
In response, the proposal for joint work was expressed by the head of the international department of the partner of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly, ASTU, Evgenia Yukina: “We have experience, unique methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language since 1955 of the year. We are ready to provide our developments, our knowledge and skills to foreign partners, including those in the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
A common theme for many foreign countries is the reduction of teaching hours of the Russian language in secondary schools. Including in the Republic of Uzbekistan. “We have reduced the number of hours of the Russian language in schools, and the teaching of English has been equated to the number of hours of native Uzbek. Negotiations are underway at all levels to return the volume of hours, since the Russian language is preserved on the territory of Uzbekistan. Our organization is actively working in this direction. Not so long ago we held the Vinogradov Readings, where there were many guests and participants from Russia, we have the Yesenin Museum, we traditionally arrange Pushkin Readings. Moreover, the poems of Russian poets are very fond of and read by the Uzbeks themselves,” said Natalya Nikolskaya, representative of the Russian Cultural Center in Tashkent (Republic of Uzbekistan). Now the organization has 23 branches throughout the country and invites colleagues from Russia to cooperate.
The topic of preserving the Russian language and culture remains topical for the Republic of Kazakhstan. “We know that Russia is actively sending its teachers to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and in relation to Kazakhstan, there is an opinion that the Russian language retains its position there. But, unfortunately, we are seeing a reduction in hours and an outflow of the Russian population. Yes, Kazakhstan is one of the states in the post-Soviet space where a large number of Russian schools with the main language of education as Russian are still preserved. We also have a very large border with China, and the Chinese come to study Russian with us, in this regard, refresher courses are very relevant for us,” said Zhanna Umatova, head of the Russian Language and Culture Center at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. .
Her colleague, the head of the Bylina ethno-cultural association from Atyrau, Andrey Korablev, noted the shortage of teaching staff not only in schools, but also in the universities of the region: “At the end of 2020, we managed to open the Center of the Russian Language and Culture at Atyrau State University, the oldest university in Kazakhstan with the oldest department of the Russian language. But, despite the quotas for specialties related to the Russian language, there is a huge shortage of teachers. Our staff is aging, there are no new teachers, but there is a demand. Schools where Russian is taught are overcrowded.”
Dmitry Nikolaev, head of the Center for Russian Culture in the Republic of Moldova, spoke about the practice of cooperation with the Ministry of Education: “We hold many events together with the Ministry of Education of Chisinau. This allows you to reach a different audience and teachers and students. Russian language teachers need to reach a new level, and we need to support them both with methodological literature and scientific activities.”
As noted by Dmitry Mikhailovich, the Center for Russian Culture in Moldova has been operating for 30 years. During this time, a Russian community was formed there. The Foundation of Slavic Literature appeared and operates through the efforts of social activists, the newspaper "Russian Word" is published. Today, two thirds of the Center's activists are young people. Dmitry Nikolaev considers annual Christmas balls to be one of the large and successful youth projects of the organization. The cultural center also has dance groups and literary clubs.
Working with youth, media cooperation and preserving historical memory
The focus on working with young compatriots is made not only in the CIS countries, but also in Europe. Victoria Samoilova, President of the Association for the Development of Russian-Spanish Cooperation from Madrid, shared her experience at the online meeting: “We have a youth council of Spain and Andorra. The guys implement their own media projects, work on culture and the Russian language in social networks. Among the activists there are many young people who were born in Spain or moved here at a young age and know little and remember little about Russia. Therefore, we are very interested in the media direction. In addition, there are many young entrepreneurs who would like to enter the Russian market, as well as activities related to the preservation of historical memory are a priority.”
The topic of patriotic education and historical memory is also one of the links for compatriots abroad. And we are talking not only about the Victory in World War II, but also about work in the rear, actions on the Second Front, and so on. They talk about this and many other things at their events, including in the Russian House in Cyprus. Its representative Olga Mitskevich also got in touch with Astrakhan: “Cyprus is an Orthodox country, so there is a high interest in culture. The Russian language is taught here in high school. We, in turn, supply teachers with the necessary methodological literature. We organize evenings dedicated to memorable dates. Tours of theaters from Russia are of great interest not only among compatriots, but also among the Cypriots themselves.”
Yelena Dolmatova, head of the Department of Electronic Resources of the Nadezhda Krupskaya Regional Scientific Library, spoke about the historical project, which is interesting for all participants in the discussion. This is the Book of People's Memory of the War - a collection of memoirs not only about front-line actions, but also about life in the rear. The authors of the project are ready to accept stories and stories from everyone.
Window from Europe to Asia
Despite the wide geography participants, representatives of Russian cultural centers expressed a common desire to establish cooperation with all colleagues - participants in the discussion. Thus, the head of the Russian-Chinese Center for the Urals and Siberia, Yuri Babonov, emphasized that today Russia, Europe and China live in the same information field and joint work opens up new horizons for development: “The relevance of studying the Russian language is growing in the light of geopolitical events. We have established Russian language testing centers in Beijing and ten provinces, where Chinese citizens can study and, as a result, receive a state certificate and enroll in a bachelor's or master's degree at a Russian university. We also signed an agreement with Rossotrudnichestvo to promote Russian houses and pavilions where goods from Russia will be presented.
Yuri Babonov invited colleagues from the regions to cooperate: “We could offer our projects in the CIS countries and jointly go to Southeast Asia. Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea have now turned their gaze towards Russia. I invite colleagues from Europe to cooperate. Europeans are also turning to Russia to promote their goods and services to China. And we can become that bridge that, through the Russian language, communicates with both Europeans and Asians.”
As a result of the meeting, the participants exchanged contacts and planned joint events dedicated to supporting and preserving the Russian language abroad. VI Caspian Media Forum.
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