Tag Archives: Russia

Beautiful Green and White Balloons!

August 20th, 2015

BGWB
The author of this blog: Emmanuel Kwabena Tetteh

When I was younger I had dreams of becoming the president of Ghana until my mum told me being a president isn’t a profession. She said to be a president in Africa, you either have to be a cruel dictator or you’ll get assassinated.

Now before you even start to wonder why a 9 year old boy will have such dreams, allow me to explain. I was born into a middle class royal tribe/family in Ghana but lack was not unfamiliar to me. Along with it, came the keen ability to become aware of the poverty of those around me and I always questioned my mom as to why we couldn’t afford everything we needed and why the president wasn’t giving everyone enough money to live comfortably. That was his job I thought, and if he wasn’t willing to do it, I was ready to step in so that I could change the system and make everyone feel comfortable.

I no longer have plans of being a president; but, my desire to create a positive change still burns deep inside of me.

Longing for a change after high school, I decided to study abroad. Shall we say, Russia? Yes I know you are asking ‘why Russia’? Honestly, it was simply the only option available to me at the time. But now I prefer to say it was ‘fate’. If you’ll agree with me, not everyone just wakes up one day and decides to move to Russia. My mother was very unsure about my decision and told me it wasn’t too late to change my decision even the day prior to my flight.

Well, you could understand her concern, for the first time in her life, her last baby was going to flap his wings and fly away from her nest to find shelter in a foreign land. Talk about cultural differences, the famous Russian stereotypes, the language, the weather and oh yes the snow. I had never experienced a snowfall in my life! I, however, welcomed the experience because I thought I was a full grown man and I had growing facial hair to prove it.

Low and behold, it didn’t take too long for me to experience the biggest cultural shock of my life. I arrived in my hostel room where I lived with a Portuguese and an Arab. None of them spoke English. We were so different to the extent that even the way we cooked rice was even different. Can you just imagine that? Before I got there I didn’t even know there were different techniques of cooking hard boiled rice!

My roommates and I vowed that we were going to learn the Russian language in the shortest possible time because we were tired of looking silly in the shopping malls. All we ever did was to point and pay. I wonder what the Russians thought.

This decision I made, changed my life. It gave me to opportunity to participate in the “Many Languages, One World” 2015. I wrote my essay in Russian and got chosen as one of the winners. This gave me the opportunity to visit New York City for the first time in my life, and the icing on the cake was when I had the opportunity to share my ideas at the United Nations general assembly. I felt like the president of Ghana. The time I spent in New York with MLOW was indeed the best week of my life. I can hardly find words to describe the wonderful experience. I might have to write a book on it just so you have a little idea of what I’m talking about.

Sometimes not everything in life makes sense and life itself can be very unexplainable and random just like the title of this blogpost. Although the future is still unpredictable like a girls’ mood, I remain hopeful. From now onwards and even after I graduate from medical school, I’m going to use my experiences and skills to help bring positive changes to Ghana my motherland, Africa my home, and the world as a whole.

Dear friend, what do you think you can also do to promote change? Maybe you can learn a new skill or language, maybe you can travel or study abroad, or maybe you can just share this post to motivate someone else. I believe the time is now or never.

by Emmanuel Kwabena Tetteh

Emmanel was born and raised in Ghana. He is currently studying medicine at the Volgograd State Medical University in Russia. Here’s more from Emmanuel: “I love poetry and sports. In the future I want to be a public health doctor. My dream is to volunteer my skills and serve all humanity in every way possible.” flowdelly22@yahoo.com

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15 Facts on Impending Closures of 40% of Universities in Russia

April 23rd, 2015

russia

According to a recent report by University World News Global Education, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science has announced that it will be closing a number of its universities and university branches by the end of 2016. These institutions are being shut down as part of a federal plan the Russian government has implemented for the development of education during 2016 to 2020. The government’s plan is to establish strong federal universities located in the 10 different regions in Russia.

Here are some highlights on these planned cuts:

1. At present, according to data from the Ministry, there are 593 state and 486 private institutions

2. According to date from the Ministry, the state universities have 1,376 branches and the private universities have 682.

3. Seven million students are attending state and private universities.

4. Two million of the students benefit from state-funded education which is about US$3,500 per student.

5. Number of Russian universities will be reduced by 40% by the end of 2016

6. Number of Russian university branches will be reduced by 80% by the end of 2016.

7. According to Dmitry Livanov, Russian Minister of Education and Science, the number of universities since the collapse of the USSR has increased extensively, especially in the number of private universities, as compared to the USSR period. He is quoted in the University World News Global Education as saying: “Unfortunately, the results of our monitoring showed that the quality of education provided by some of them is very poor.”

8. On March, 2016 the Ministry began conducting quality checks of the universities. Results are due on May 30, 2015.

9. Up to 100 universities will be subject to quality assessments within the new few months.

10. Majority of closures will affect private universities that have been determined to provide poor standards of education.

11. The cuts will also affect some state-owned universities.

12. Some of the closed universities, including their faculty and infrastructure, may be absorbed by other universities that are found eligible to continue their operations.

13. Faculty from the national universities have been promised by the Russian government that their salaries will not be cut and the same provision will apply to scholarships.

14. 53.5% of Russians have university degrees, yet, many Russian students, teachers and employers are dissatisfied with the quality of higher education in the country.

15. According to Education Minister Livanov, some of the institutions on the chopping block behaved as “offices for the sale of certificates that do not have an established training process and qualified teachers.”

Please stay tuned as we await the results of the Ministry’s quality checks mid to late this year.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Russian Rock: Then and Now

May 23rd, 2014

I was Music Director of KCRW and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic during the 1980s and we did regular programs featuring the latest in Soviet-era Russian pop and rock music. Back then, the Cold War was alive and well, with Reagan and Brezhnev regularly rattling their swords. Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny once told me that as a kid in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, he played near missile silos with ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) aimed at the city then called Leningrad (now re-Christened St. Petersburg). During the mid 1980s, Pat spent a month in St. Petersburg, playing free shows for all people, not just politburo big-wigs or people with connections. He thought about his new friends and admirers–and about those ICBM’s. Such was the Cold War. It all ended in 1991, just when I was leaving KCRW to take a job at a record company.

Red_Wave_album_cover
1986 LP featuring: Aquarium, Kino, Alisa, Strange Games. Material had to be smuggled out of the USSR and released in the US.

A journalist from Riga, Latvia, named Sergei Zamascikov was a regular guest host, bringing with him the latest LPs from The Soviet Union. He worked for the Voice of America in LA, and was the go-to man for news or commentary on Russia. He got our first call when the Soviet Union was falling apart, with Gorbachev in his dacha and Boris Yeltsin on the tank. Sergei also arranged for flamboyand Russian writer Yevgeny Yevtushenko to read his famous poem Babi Yar at KCRW back then. The Soviet writer showed up, looking dashing in a shiny silver suit.

Together we played music by two of the biggest groups: DDT and Aquarium. Rock music, like jazz, is always viewed with suspicion by dictatorships: both are creative vehicles of free expression. DDT once even played live on Morning Becomes Eclectic. And the famous Russian group Aquarium, like DDT, would get banned and only be available on pirate cassettes, underground recordings that were much sought after by young people there. In 1986, the LP Red Wave was released in the US because a producer smuggled recorded material from the USSR of underground bands Aquarium, Kino, Alisa, and Strange Games.

There was a recent article in the New York Times is about Boris Grebenshikov, who is back in the news. Boris Grebenshikov founded the group Aquarium in Leningrad in 1972. The Kremlin’s radio station is now using one of Aquarium’s underground 1980s ballads: “Love in The Time of War” to promote its official policy toward Ukraine and Crimea. Grebenshikov is not happy seeing his song used as government propaganda. When he wrote it, it pointedly criticized Soviet ideology and tactics during the cold war. Now the Russian establishment is embracing Aquarium’s songs, something neither he nor the band ever wanted. It was a passionate anti-war song!

Here is the band Aquarium performing on the David Letterman show back in the 80s:

Here is more Aquarium footage of them performing in the USSR before an adoring crowd:

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

toms

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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20 Facts about the Education System of Russia

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