Russian ResearchGAMBIER, Ohio (March 6, 2006) Two Kenyon students will be traveling to Russia to conduct research in the coming months, thanks to awards from the Global Partners Project.
Riley Witte, Class of 2009, will embark on a two-week hiking expedition with the International Volcanological Field School near Kamchatka, Russia. The field school, a joint program of the University of Alaska and Kamchatka State University in Russia, gives a group of students from both Russia and the United States the opportunity to study volcanoes while also discovering more about language and culture.
As a native of Fairbanks, Alaska, Witte hopes her journey will give her a chance to learn more about her state's neighbor to the west. "As a young Alaskan, I am excited about the possibilities for exchange between my state, a remote outpost of the Western world, and the Russian Far East," Witte wrote in her application letter. "Our shared geography, cultural and economic history, and the challenges we face dealing with the extreme natural phenomena of our northern landscape create a logical basis for communication between our communities." She learned of the Global Partners from Associate Professor of Russian Natalia Olshanskaya, in whose Russian language class Witte is enrolled.
Rebecca Dash, Class of 2007, will be using her grant to pursue research on Spanish "war children" in Russia. During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the children of Spanish Republican fighters, as well as Spanish war orphans, were sent to the former USSR. Families who sent their children there did so with the understanding that the stays were only temporary--even though, of the 3,000 children sent there between 1936 and 1938, most ultimately did not return home for over 40 years. Many remained in Russia for their entire lives.
Dash, a resident of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, is currently conducting research on this issue during her spring semester abroad in Madrid, Spain. With her Global Partners grant, she will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, for two weeks in April to study archival material on this issue and to interview two "war children" who never returned home. "Their families are disappearing, and their time is running short," says Dash, a double major in math and in modern languages and literatures who studies Spanish and Russian at Kenyon. "Their stories are too valuable to be lost to time." Dash will also interview two war children who returned to Spain and will use those findings to compare and contrast the survivors' respective experiences.
Dash's project was inspired by Olshanskaya, who thought the issue would appeal to her interests as a student of Spanish and Russian. "It's quite a hot subject in Spain," says Olshanskaya. "It's a very tragic episode in history, connected to civil war and politics."
The Global Partners Project, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, brings together the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, the Associated Colleges of the South, and the Great Lakes Colleges Association, of which Kenyon is a member. The project's Center in Central Europe and Russia awards grants that fund research trips to those regions.