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Je Suis Russia #9 – Overwhelmed With The “Intake”

Monday, October 24, 2016…St. Petersburg, Russia

I have been here since the 21st and unlike Moscow, I have had NO time to do this blog! On the go from 9 am to late in the evening. Walk, walk, walk, and walk everywhere. I have never walked so much I all my life. Carrying a 30 lb backpack with video equipment makes it all the harder. I’m getting too old for this.

I thought Moscow was beautiful and my hosts and friends were incredible. St. Petersburg has been an entirely different experience. The people are just as warm and welcoming. But, this city of 4 million or so people is more than words can describe. While in Moscow, I heard people say that St. Petersburg was more beautiful.

Comparisons are not so good…St. Petersburg is unlike anything I have ever seen. There are rivers and canals winding their way through this city and its unbelievable architecture. They call it the Venice of the North, but I’ve been to Venice and was impressed and enchanted, but this is Venice on steroids! Venice has the Regatta which I have seen, but this city has more museums per capita than any city in the world.

 

Mirabile dictu, the sun came out today. The first time I have seen the sun in two weeks! It is cold, but unbelievably beautiful. I will post some photos and video clips from today….at some point.

Perhaps the most moving encounter of my entire two weeks in Russia was a meeting with some 20 Russian students who are studying at a private language school here in St. Petersburg. Brian Terrell, Erica Brock, David Smith Ferry (all from the USA) and Susan Clarkson from the UK and I met with these students for two hours tonight.

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Their English is impeccable. They are bright, interested in America, and just like any of my children or American young people ages 18-21. The dialogue and encounter was so enriching and rewarding. They were very tuned into what we had to say, and they expressed their enthusiastic gratitude with applause and warm greetings when it was over. How can one not love and respect these young people who are so much like us?

Tomorrow, I fly to Crimea for the last leg of my journey. I am confident that I will find the same warmth and hospitality there as I have found in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I know that US media and government have demonized Russia for ” invading” Crimea. But, it is an entirely different story from here. For five days, I will attempt to get what Crimean people have to say about the situation there.

After two weeks here in Russia, all I can say is, “Je Suis Russia,” and Je Suis Russian people.”

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