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Sometimes you know only one story, in the case of Russia; I know infinitely more than one.

 

Today I’d like to tell you a couple of stories, put some flesh and blood on them and hopefully help you distinguish between reality and stereotype.

 

Every year about 20,000 Russian university students come to the US on the Summer Work & Travel program.

These are actual authorized young people who have gone through a long and sometimes expensive application process. They wish to work legally in the US for the summer, meet new friends and get a chance to visit some different places in America.

These are my university students and I’m damned proud of them. Any one of them would be a great addition to the culture of the U.S., but they will return to Russia at the end of the summer.

We are force fed so much crap today about the plight of the poor illegal immigrants in America, talked about as though they are just overflowing with virtue. Personally, I favor a big ass fence at the southern border of the U.S. with dogs, drones and machine gun nests just beyond,  in the event that someone makes it past, or under the fence. I find no virtue with this type of immigrant, and by this I mean an illegal.

These students arrive at the American shores in a legal fashion, thus respecting the laws of my country and I respect them for doing so.

The sun has just risen, though it is not yet full light. The air outside is a chilly 35 degrees F in spite of the fact that it is already late April. This IS Russia.

The Consulate building is made of red brick and about 5 stories tall, it’s not at all non descript, but actually very unique with lots of architectural nooks and crannies built into the façade. I look and see a unique building, but I don’t see the gargoyles on the roof as Russian do as they wait for their turn.

I want you to hear the voices of my students as they are waiting outside the Consulate for their turn to proceed to the waiting room. There is no covered area and you are subject to the weather conditions that exist at that time as you wait to be called two by two into the Consulate building to be processed and interviewed.

Sochi

 

You’re listening to the Mark in Russia podcast, episode 101 and I’m Mark……………

Welcome to part 2 of a 2 part episode where I speak to Nastya about her experiences working as a volunteer at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. If you missed part one, go first and listen to episode 100. I think that you’ll find the interview and information quite interesting and you may also find it a welcome break from my customary monologue rant.

Today Nastya will speak about some of the actual Olympic events that she witnessed and talk a bit about the Olympic spirit, which can only be captured in person.

In a couple of weeks I’ll have an interview with another person who worked at the Sochi Olympics, who will present things from a slightly different perspective.

Well, enough of my monologue, let’s get to the interview.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for listening through to the end of today’s broadcast. I hope you enjoyed hearing some “inside baseball” stories concerning the inner workings of an Olympics.

Come back again next time and listen to another interesting Mark in Russia broadcast. Times are rare when I’ve actually got three other episodes that I’m currently working on, so you’ll be well fed before we go into a famine period again. Well, until that time this is Mark saying GoodBye!!

Sochi

This is part one of a two part episode about one of our Sochi Olympic volunteers. I will be making a series where I’ll be interviewing some of the returning volunteers and finding out what they did any why.

The first volunteer is Nastya. Nastya has traveled to other places in the world several times, but this was one of her first times seeing other parts of Russia.

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You’re listening to episode #98 of the Mark in Russia broadcast and I’m Mark……………………….

Wow! 98 episodes! When I made my first episode I really wasn’t thinking about what I’ll do for my 100th episode, but now that I’m at 98, I guess that I need to give this some thought. But you know what? I don’t think I’ll do anything special, I mean, what If I made an especially good episode for #100, then you, my listener might ask, “Well, he appears to be capable of making an interesting episode. Why did it take 99 boring episodes to finally make a good one?” Furthermore, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they should skip the next 99 episodes in order to hear the next interesting episode, number 200. So, in the interest of self preservation I’ll just produce my typical random rant for episode #100.

Well, that wasn’t my plea for help; that was just me pulling back the curtain a little on how my brain processes my forms of logic. Now for my plea for help and don’t worry, it doesn’t involve you having to spend any money.

For those that don’t know me, you can probably tell from the title of my show that I’m a guy named Mark who lives in Russia. In fact, I’ve lived here for more than 12 years already. I took up the podcasting/internet radio hobby about 4 years ago and I enjoy doing it as a hobby.

With all of the cool audio equipment that I’ve built up over the past 4 years and the ability to precede beyond the learning curve, I’ve had a particular project in mind that I would like to do with this new found knowledge. That is, in addition to my rants, which act as a sanity release in an increasingly insane world.

What we in the States call the “Greatest Generation” are also honored as such here in Russia. The most brutal battles of WWII were fought in Russia and unknown to the West until after the fall of the USSR is the fact that about 24 million people in the USSR were killed in WWII. There isn’t a family here that wasn’t touched in negative ways by that war. The last week of January marked the 70th anniversary marking the end of the siege of Leningrad, which is modern day Saint Petersburg. This was the longest siege in history, lasting about 900 days. The city was blockaded and assaulted by the German Northern Army all during this time. More than a million people died during this time, mainly civilians. During the worst parts of the siege, nearly 1000 people a day died from starvation alone.

This “Greatest generation” from all of the Allied armies that fought against the Nazis is very rapidly dying out and in a few short years will be gone for good, and along with the people will go countless stories and unrecorded bits of history that should be preserved for their families and also for interested people in general throughout the world. As it is said, “Those that don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it”.

I’ve often wished that someone in my family had recorded my grandparents, great-grandparents or even my parents as they related stories of their youths, but unfortunately nobody did this. Today we live in a world where almost everyone carries an MP3 player, a smartphone or other recording devices, yet even today people are more interested in watching some stupid cats do stupid things on YouTube, rather than honoring senior family members by asking about their youth and recording these stories for future generations.

My project that I’m finally launching is to capture as many stories as possible from Russian who lived through or fought in WWII, known as “The Great Patriotic War” here in Russia. I’m interested in the stories of regular people and am not really interested in preserving the politics of the day.

As a foreigner it can be difficult for me to find people to speak with about this and this is what I’m asking for my listener’s assistance with. Please help me find people I can speak with and record the conversation. I have the equipment and will come with my own interpreter, so all I need is for the seniors to be willing to speak with me. I’ll come to them and when I’m finished, I’ll supply the family with a copy of the recordings, so that they can keep this as a part of their family history, additionally, I will produce a radio piece from some of the stories which in addition to the speaker, will be dubbed into English for others in the world to learn about these brave and strong individuals.

If you feel that you can help me with someone I can interview, please contact me at mark@markinrussia.com in either English or Russian. I’d love to be able to do this and this does not benefit me in any way financial, it’s just a desire of mine. I’ve actually spent the past year studying the production of stories for radio trying to prepare myself technically for this project, having studied in several online courses including being a beta tester for one of the best radio production schools in the world. I want to do this and do it right, but time is rapidly passing for this generation and every day more and more of these heroes pass away.

Please help me if you can. Well, thanks for hearing out my request for assistance.

 

At this point I would like to have you listen to the first short story of this new project. The story is only 5 minutes long and I’d be honored if you would take the time to listen to it, even more so if you would take the time to tell me what you think.

The name of the Story is “A Children’s Playground in the Post WWII Soviet Union”.

 

Play audio piece.

Thank you for listening to my first part of my hopefully long term project and also thank you for listening to my broadcast today. Please come back next time, but until that time, GoodBye!!