Abigail Anderson discusses her academic experience while participating in the online Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP) as a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad scholarship recipient.
The most profound and thought-provoking concept I learned about over these short 8 weeks was the complexity of the Russian culture, and how every form of art is used to express this. Before this program I thought that art, especially cartoons, were meant to be passively enjoyed. However, having learned about art and the importance of an artist’s voice through the lens of the Russian culture, my perspective of this has been irrevocably broadened, for which I am very grateful. Through attending my classes, especially my literature class, I gained more insight into the intricacies of Russian artistry and as such, I became even more motivated to continue my studies of the Russian language and culture.
Having taken the course, Искусство и культура современной России (Arts and Culture of Modern Russia) I began to understand the complexity of Russian philosophy and how much art is used as the voice to express the complexity of the Russian soul. Two sessions that I really liked were lectures on the cartoon Бабочка (Butterfly) and the discussions my class had on the influence of the Russian artist on the whole society.
In Бабочка, directors and writers portrayed a story about a boy who is in awe of butterflies, and as a result enslaves them, only to realize that it was wrong after he himself experiences captivity in his dreams. From the cartoon, I thought that the artists portrayed that there is beauty in freedom and innocence. However, greed, ignorance and complacency can easily corrupt this beauty, leaving behind regret, fear, and destruction. Thanks to the boy who frees the butterflies at the end of the cartoon, the artists portrayed that it is possible to correct the destructive qualities of human behavior, such as taking things that do not belong to you. The most interesting aspect of the cartoon is the question that the artists asked: Is it only possible to correct the destructive qualities of human behavior in children, or does the boy in the cartoon represent any person in society, and therefore this correction is possible for everyone? From this cartoon I learned that creative interpretations of the past can be used to encourage critical thinking of the present and future. What was even more impressive to me was the fact that cartoons in the Russian culture pay such attention to the complexities of human behaviors and encourage young minds to engage in this type of cognitive thinking.
Having been a part of this program and having learnt so much about the Russian language and culture, I have decided to also continue my studies of Russian at my university. For the 2020 fall semester, I am taking 3 Russian cultural classes: a historical Russian class which details Russia’s history from the agrarian era to today’s Russia, a class about the bodies of work from the renown poet Alexander Pushkin, and a Russian film class which analyses the cinema produced in Russia during the Post-Soviet era. From these classes I hope to gain further insights and understanding of Russian culture and to also learn more about the versatility of art.
About Fulbright-Hays Scholarships from American Councils
American Councils for International Education has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad, to provide scholarships for advanced overseas and online Russian and Persian language study. Learn more about the eligibility requirements here.
About Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad
The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act, commonly referred to as the Fulbright-Hays Act, was made law by the 87th U.S. Congress under President John F. Kennedy on September 21, 1961. Senator J. William Fulbright and Representative Wayne Hays introduced the legislation, which represents the basic charter for U.S. government-sponsored educational and cultural exchange. 2016 marks the 55th anniversary of this landmark legislation. More information about Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad can be found here.
By: Abigail Anderson
Term: Summer 2020