Russian department celebrates Russian art, history and culture

Jason Meeks

The Russian Department will be hosting a weeklong celebration of Russian art, history and culture starting April 11.

All of the events have been organized primarily by undergraduate students in the Russian program as a way to introduce others to the culture. The events are free for all students and faculty to attend.

“There’s a lot of warmth in Russian culture, and I think our events are going to express that,” said Danielle Martin, the president of Kent State’s Russian Language and Culture Society.

The week begins with a performance by the St. Nicholas Balalaika Orchestra, a Russian folk orchestra from Mogadore, Ohio.

Dr. Brian Baer, Professor of Russian Translation, describes the balalaika as a “guitar-like” instrument. He said that several students and faculty from Kent have been involved in the orchestra in the past.

On Monday, April 14, there will be a Russian games night at Oscar Ritchie Hall. Martin said that various stations will be available for attendees to participate in traditional Russian games, such as durak, a card game. There will also be trivia games focusing on Russian culture and historical figures.

On Tuesday, April 15, Dr. Baer will be hosting the Russian Drinking Traditions night. This presentation will detail the elaborate social customs associated with drinking in Russia. No alcohol will be served at the event, and there is no age restriction, said Martin.

“Russia has its own culture of drink,” said Baer. “Many people don’t understand it.”

The Office of Global Education will host a panel on Wednesday in Van Campen Hall to discuss opportunities to study abroad. Students who have participated in the program will also be available to talk about their experience and answer questions.

Although the panel focuses on Russian study programs, such as Kent State’s exchange program with the Linguistic Institute of Nizhny Novgorod and other universities in the Baltic States, it may be useful to anyone interested in studying abroad.

“Even other language students are encouraged to attend,” said Tatyana Bystrova-McIntyre, Assistant Professor of Russian and Translation.

For Thursday’s Russian Movie Night, there will be a showing of “Operation Y And Shurik’s Other Adventures” in the ballroom of the Student Center.

“Operation Y” is a Soviet-era slapstick comedy. It will be shown with English subtitles, and Martin said that its humor is still accessible for a wide audience despite the language barrier.

The film is a classic in Russia to this day. “Every Russian knows it,” said Bystrova-McIntyre.

Baer said that westerners often have the idea that the Soviet Union was a “gloomy place,” and the movie is an example of how Soviets did have a sense of humor.

The week concludes with a discussion panel on Friday, on the topic “Is The Cold War Over?” Four professors of history and political science, including three from Kent and one from Ohio State University, will lead a discussion and take audience questions.

Martin said she proposed the topic last semester before recent events in Russia and Ukraine. The recent developments have made the topic even more relevant, and understanding the complex history is critical.

“I see a continuing pattern of tension between our countries,” said Martin.

After the panel, there will be a reception in the student center at which attendees can discuss issues with the panelists.

More information about the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies can be found at

Contact Jason Meeks at [email protected].