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Trans-Siberian Railroad

June 24, 2013

We have arrived in Irkutsk, the Paris of Siberia, after a 17 hour train ride overnight on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. We were very excited to see that the berths in this train were slightly larger than on the last train we took overnight. However, we soon noticed that the windows did not open and it was hot. I recognize the irony of being hot in Siberia, but it is summertime! In any case, Mary, the leader of our group pleaded with the train attendant to turn on the air conditioning, but she refused because, “There are children in this car. They will freeze!” So, apparently Siberian children can survive the 9 months of winter here where the temperature stays below -40 degrees for days at a time, but air conditioning on a hot train car will kill them. Interesting!

Everyone in our group has been terrific and positive throughout the trip. Some of the people with our group are quite funny, although I realize that anyone who is not on the trip will not get any of the jokes.

We have started to really flesh out some of the curriculum ideas and on the train we had a scintillating discussion about the Soviet era and what it accomplished, having noted and studied all of its failures rather thoroughly. Mary also led and extended conversation/lecture on the topics of socialism, communism and nationalism in the Soviet era, both in Russia and in Eastern Europe. I will be converting my handwritten notes to lecture notes for myself. This trip will definitely change the way I teach Russia and the USSR.

Again I just want to take a moment and express my gratitude for this trip and all of the people who made it possible, especially Tim who encouraged me to apply and always know I would be chosen for it and who also is taking care of Cassidy and everything else at home that needs to be done.

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