Russia 2002

Russia 2002

Russia 2002

What a great day!  Not only am I in one of the prettiest Russian cities I have seen, but it has been an outstanding day for recruiting students, which is my whole purpose for being here.

During the expo today, there were times, when I was speaking to one interested couple, while at the same time each of my two interpreters were talking to two separate couples.  Of course, not all will result in enrolments, but the level of interest was everything I could have hoped for, and more.  By the end of the day, I had names and addresses of seven very seriously interested boys, plus the name of one girl who wants desperately to go to a girls’ school in Adelaide.  I also had two excellent agents wanting to sign agreements with PAC to market the school, and I had extensive times with both the Korean Methodist Church (seven pastors) and the Director of the Christian Centre at the Khabarovsk United Methodist Church, Pastor Fedor Golubev.  He was so impressed with PAC that he is contacting his boss in Yekaterinburg (the city I fly to tomorrow) to ask her to make contact with me; her area of jurisdiction is the Urals, Siberia and the Russian Far East (i.e. all of Asian Russia).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I was later to bed last night than I had hoped, as answering all the e-mails took more time than I had expected.  I was in bed by 11:15pm, but having missed an entire sleep the previous night because of the flight, it was later than ideal.  Although I set my alarm for 6:40am this morning, it seemed to be 7:25am before I found myself getting out of bed.  As there were only four e-mails this morning (in contrast to 47 last night!), it was enough time to get ready.  I started breakfast at 8:00am, but didn’t finish until 8:55 because the breakfasts here are not buffet, but ordering (asking for combination 1, 2 or 3).  This hotel, as befits its Soviet Intourist origins, maintains the Russian tradition of slow, surly service.

This still allowed me enough time for a morning walk, which I felt I needed, and as the golden sun was shining through a crystal clear blue sky, it was pleasant indeed.  The temperature was about 2 or 3 degrees, so the air was crisp.  (In Siberia, they say that temperatures of 2 or 3 below zero are not cold, because they are ‘almost positive’).  Khabarovsk is a hilly city, which made the walking even more pleasant and picturesque, and my destination was a huge towering concrete-and-stainless steel Soviet war memorial, tastefully set out in a massive concrete square, beside a towering concrete high rise, on the top of a hill.  In the golden yellow sunlight, it actually looked good.  Just below the concrete tower is a almost endless array of black stone tablets, each about 5 metres by 3 metres, inscribed with the names of Soviet war dead 1941-45 - the names run into millions, and the sheer number is profoundly sad and shocking.

I just made it back to the hotel in time to set off for the expo, which was being held in glorious surroundings – Khabarovsk’s Art Museum.  Unfortunately this meant we could not attach any posters to the walls, but we were in a big room, which we needed for the crowds.  The fact that this was Saturday helped our numbers enormously, as did (for the university representatives) the school visits yesterday.  The arrangements here were not done by Vladimir as in Vladivostok, but by local agents (VIP Service International), and they were outstanding, even to the point of having gas balloons on the steps to help show the way and create a party atmosphere.  This agency is a very smart, sharp and effective operation!

I had only one break of about five minutes during the entire day, at about 3pm, during which I stepped outside with the digital camera to record the brilliant weather.  We finished at 5pm, happy but very tired, and toasted the success of the day with champagne in green disposable plastic cups.  Unfortunately, when we stepped outside at about 5:30pm, after dismantling everything, it was once again overcast and beginning to rain lightly.  That doesn’t bode well for dinner tonight, which is at a Russian restaurant about five minutes walk from the hotel – at least I have my newly purchased umbrella now.

Back to business - the names of the seriously interested male students are as follows: Artyom, Paul, Alexei, Artem, Vadim, Dennis and Elisey, and the girl who wants information about girls’ schools is Natalia (all other details redacted here).

Day 11


Saturday 12 October 2002