A Sweet (Surprising!) Return!

I’m back! AGAIN.

I haven’t had a working personal computer in over three weeks, which has been frustrating for the blog-o-sphere, and other such endeavors.  However, I am now back in action, and life has been packed full of all sorts of good stuff, mainly classes. If last semester was leaving me somewhat bored and looking for things to do, this semester has forced me to deny private lessons and school trips as I just don’t have time.

So the month of March consisted of an overwhelming amount of lessons, a gap in my social life, and slush, mud, and snow.  The month of April started out with a great trip to Ufa, +15 degrees and sun, and a sudden perk in things to do on the weekend. Yet it also brought some unforeseen work; thus, I’ve ben struggling to efficiently manage the two.

UFA – it was this amazing gathering of fifteen Fulbrighters.  Ufa is located in the Bashkir Republic; here is a clear, concise map:

Coming from a southern city (I use this phrase with enjoyment as it now actually holds true) I was COLD. and being from Michigan I suppose I don’t often say that.  Anyways, regardless of the weather we had an amazing weekend, which can be summed up by bonding with our director, hanging out in the village of Krasnii Klyuch and trudging through the slush, watching an amazing performance of native Bashkir dance,  and seeing the most wonderful play ever – in Bashkir.

In other news, I returned to Astrakhan today from Rostov (more on that later as well), and found out that Astrakhan has erupted!  Essentially, in the March 4 elections a certain gentleman named Shein ran for the mayor of Astrakhan and lost to a member of United Russia.  However, Shein has declared a “Hunger Strike” against corruption and has now not eaten for more than four weeks.  Meanwhile, his supporters have found corruption in 17 voting districts through out Astrakhan.  Ironically enough, they need 25%, or approximately 51 districts to appeal the vote and the authorities are not granting them access to any more film.  People have become worried for Shein’s health and are angry at the restrictions on transparency imposed by the authorities.  SO what happens? People come to Astrakhan… lots of people.  The vkontakte group alone has over 700 members and there are messages regarding train tickets and free couches to sleep on.  Navalny, the famous anti-corruption blogger himself has made his appearance, and one of my students got her picture with him. Unfortunately I was still in Rostov and missed this meeting!  If you’re interested, my source was the following article by Kevin Rothrock: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/04/10/russia-astrakhan-becomes-oppositions-new-rallying-cause/

Also Navalny’s instagram has some staggering photos of Astrakhan:

inside the kremlin

he got called a hipster for this one

Coming up next: hopefully more on the Navalny gig, a short trip to Rostov, a Russian rap concert, and a month late celebration of St. Patty’s Day. Stay tuned.

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