Seems to be true of most programs currently going on in Russia, Ukraine, and the Crimea region. However, it isn’t clear yet how many of these programs will continue next year. ** DB
Despite tensions built in the East between Russia and Ukraine over the past few weeks, the Baylor study abroad program in Russia isn’t turning back.
“I have absolutely no worries about sending our students right now,” said Dr. Adrienne Harris, assistant professor of Russian. “I suppose if things got very heated and there was some impact on visas, that of course would change the situation.”
There is only one Baylor student studying abroad in Russia: Highland Village junior Matt Brinzo. Brinzo is studying for the semester at Voronezh State University in southwestern Russia.
“One of the big advantages of studying in a place like Voronezch is that you’re not surrounded by other foreigners, like in St. Petersburg, so there are more opportunities for students to speak Russian and fewer opportunities to speak English,” Harris said.
He said since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baylor has had no issues sending one to six students per semester to study in Russia. In general, Harris said, she doesn’t think there would be any animosity from Russians towards American students. Russians typically know Americans are interested in Russia and learning about the country, she said.
“Almost always the response is positive,” Harris said. “Maybe the Russian people will want to talk about politics with our students and defend President Vladimir Putin, but as far as animosity towards students, there’d be nothing serious.”
Brinzo said Americans have advised him that it’s potentially dangerous to be in Russia, but he feels safer in Russia than he did living in Waco.
“I haven’t even felt a glimpse of danger,” Brinzo said.
Brinzo said many Russian people talk to him about the Ukrainian issue and America’s involvement, but they are not hostile with him and he feels the same about some political issues as they do.
“I get an earful from every single Russian about how America is ridiculous for our views on the whole Ukraine situation, and on a lot of points I agree with them,” Brinzo said.
He said he sympathizes with the opinion that the U.S. has been inconsistent . . . .