Dyagilev Festival

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Throughout the first week here in Perm we have been attending events which are part of the Dyagilev Festival.

The International Diaghilev Festival is a unique cultural event not only for Perm and the region, but for the entire European continent in general. The festival supports and develops the traditions of an outstanding impresario and promoter of Russian culture, Sergei Diaghilev.

People come from across the globe to attend the festival. Our group has appreciated shows at the beautiful Perm Opera House for Diaghilev events. One performance was contemporary dance by Akran Khan Company.

Students share songs along the way

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In the first half of the video, DMI singer/songwriter Jessica Faith plays one of her songs in a music store in Perm. She just began playing guitar and the guy in the store just asked to play together. He picked a guitar and followed along.

In the second video, singer/songwriter Jarrick Finkley, plays one of his songs at the home of a Russian student hosting us for dinner. After dinner students performed American music in their for the first time.

Gift of fish

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It was an exceptional day as we all became more Russian with a trip to the dacha and banya (you must Google these if you are unfamiliar). The dacha manager even provided all of us with a gift of dried fish as we said goodbye. Just ask Brandon — it was an unforgettable experience!

Dasha’s family meal

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Dasha dinner

Perm native, Dasha, has been an outstanding host since our group arrived in Russia. She has led us around the city, translated for us everywhere and been a genuine source of help. Tonight, Dasha, her parents and sister cooked traditional Russian food prepared on special occasions. We discussed the differences and similarities in our countries, and DMI students played live American music in their home for the first time. Thank you for you boundless hospitality.

Perm students lead the way

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Photos and words by Perm State University student Kristina Kostina, one of the students taking part in the program. She joined the group as we headed to Khokhlovka.

Khokhlovka is an architectural and ethnographic open-air museum in Perm Krai, located in the Perm municipal district on the right bank of the Kama River, 43 km from Perm. It was founded in 1969 and opened for visitors in 1980. It is the first open-air architectural museum of wooden architecture in the Ural region. Khokhovka includes 23 unique monuments from the 17th–early 20th centuries.
It is considered one of the most important attractions in the Perm Krai.

“[Our] excursion to Khokhlovka was on the second day and it was wonderful,” said Kristina. “I liked the new place and even the bad weather couldn’t interfere me to enjoy the nature and the company.”

Happy Memorial Day from Russia

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Memorial in RussiaWe took a moment to recognize our fallen American service members today in honor of Memorial Day. It was a special occasion as our tour guides brought us to a veteran’s park in Perm for fallen Russian soldiers.

A million thanks still falls short as we reflect on this holiday.

Ancient village and gallery tour

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Student Perspectives

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Journal Entry — by: Jessica Wishard, student

Day one in Perm! We got up and got ready to leave the hostel by 10. We went to the bank first to exchange our USD for rubles. That was such a cool experience. I love Russian money. It’s so awesome-looking and easy to understand. We also saw a kid being rescued from a burning (smoking) building.

Next, we went to the PSU campus. The entire campus is fenced, and you enter through guard buildings. Most of the buildings are connected to each other (for those winters when you just CAN’T leave the buildings). The have little kiosk type things and a small cafe instead of a cafeteria and a union like we have. We ate breakfast at their cafeteria. I tried an “omelette” (eggs whipped with milk. It was cold and had a really strange consistency…no me gusta). I also tried something like a potato patty with meat inside of it (pretty decent) and some little cottage cheese/cakey/biscuit looking things that were sweet. They were pretty good. Others tried this watery looking drink with cut up cooked apples that looked weird, but they said it was good. I’ll have to try it later I guess.

After breakfast, we explored campus a little more until we met up with our (LATE!) teachers and more Russian students/professors at the fountain. We went on yet another tour of campus, then toured the city’s “green line”. This is basically a trail that brings you to all of the cities best sights and attractions. Kristina and Anna were our brilliant tour guides.

I absolutely love the art and outdoor parks of this city. There is a giant forest in the city (kind of like Central Park in New York), a gorgeous park by the opera and ballet theatre filled with birches and pigeons and couples and babushkas and families and tributes to veterans, and small parks sprinkled throughout the city. There is art everywhere, and artistically designed outdoor spaces. I love the windowsills–so many of the windowsills are very deep, deep enough to keeps plants on, to sit on (and write, like I’m doing now). I love the eclectic, seemingly thrown-together beauty of the architecture and paint in this city and the country homes–it reminds me of Mexican culture. The churches and theaters are intricate. There is graffiti and there are ugly buildings and unsightly places, but it’s all so foreign and so intriguing. I love how many people I see out walking and riding bikes and using public transportation. I hate how dirty most of the toilets are, and I’m exhausted from waking up at 4 a.m. and thinking its day because the sun is shining. I love how different and familiar some things can be, and I love that I can sit here and watch a fly land on the window–rubbing his legs together maniacally–and realize that bugs and birds and buildings and cars and trees and people are similar in that, all over the world, they are so varied and, yet, exactly the same.

Okay, rant/gushing over.

Half of the group (okay, sorry, but it was everyone over 35 with one exception :P) decided not to continue the tour, but the rest of us walked on with Dasha to the river. The Kama river is huge and lovely and certain people of our group want to rent jet skis (I’d like the see that happen. Ha). Then we went to a restaurant (they had a few English menus!) for lunch. I had a mushroom/pasta dish that was pretty awesome. That’s also when I discovered that some restrooms here aren’t designated to a particular gender… (When a man came out of the other stall, I freaked out just a little bit. Not gonna lie.) Then we walked to the Perm bear. Leelah and I climbed on his back and we all rubbed his ears and nose for good luck.

We came back to the hostel to rest and get changed for the ballet. We left around 7 to wait outside of the theatre. Oo-yah-nah (I have no clue how to spell her name but that’s how it sounds) brought some bread and we fed the pigeons… First there was one…then two…then forty-seven…

The ballet was a modern one. I think it was a British troupe? It was fascinating. I’d expected tutus and ballerina buns, but there were five dancers and black costumes that twirled and exaggerated, precise arm movements and not as many pirouettes as I though there would be. The show was beautiful, but there were several points where entire little movements (several minutes) were danced in complete silence. It made me feel really awkward, though I’m not sure why. When the performance was over and the performers bowed, something strange happened… Everyone was clapping in unison, and kept applauding until the dancers and exited, come back, and bowed three or four more times. It was so fascinating how involved the audience was.

After the show, some of the group announced that they wanted “American food” so we went to this bar/pub that had pizzas and burgers and other sort-of-American things. I didn’t realize that the pizzas were entire pizzas and I could only eat three slices of mine… So wasteful. Oi.

I drank my first foreign soda (Pepsi). I really need a nap. I just fell asleep on this windowsill.