July 6, 2008

The Voice of History

June 30, 2008

A number of our group are under the weather with digestive difficulties. It would be hard to identify one culprit that may not have agreed with people since we continue to eat our body weights in food each day!

The highlight of today was the lecture on Russian history and politics by a gentleman named Percy Gurvitch. He is Vladimir's version of The University of Chicago's Eric Hamp (whom I respect immensely and adore as a person as well). Professor Gurvitch is almost 90 years old - born in 1919 - and has lived through eleven governments. Coming from a long line of Social Democrats, he has weathered various administrations with many personal stories of how people really lived and spilled the beans on a lot of "secrets of the rich and famous", as it were. Today he covered the period from the Revolution of 1917 to Kruschev. We'll be graced with his presence twice more before we leave Vladimir.

I want to note that Gurvitch is a polyglot, but he speaks English only once a year, and his command of English is superb. I'm serious - he dusts off his English specifically to address the Fulbright groups at the American Home. It was truly amazing.

Currently, Percy Gurvitch is still running one of the departments at Vladimir's Pedagogical Institute and is clearly revered among the faculty and students, both for his intellect and his integrity as a leader.

We are scheming to do an oral history project that involves videotaping Professor Gurvitch and posting the lectures to our own University website, CHIASMOS. Details to come at a later date...

No comments: