How many times in your life have you heard about Russia as a country of cold and unfriendly people who drink vodka all day long? I think a lot of times.
My name is Polina, and I’m Russian. And when I was a small girl no one ever told me that Russia was perceived like that.
I was born in Khabarovsk, small city in Russia. My family consists of my mother, father, me and my sister.
Earlier my mother was a teacher of English in a primary school. She likes small kids and she is always smiley and kind.
My father is a head of his own company. He likes making people laugh – he jokes a lot and in general he is very extravert person.
My family is very ordinary: when I was a child we celebrated birthdays and new years together, went to the seaside to stay there in tents. We had a cat and a dog. I went to a kindergarten. So, nothing very special.
One day when I was already 12 years old I found an interesting article about perception of Russians in the world. And the thing which I read there made me frustrated. «Russia is a country of alcoholics – they drink vodka for a breakfast, lunch and dinner. They live such a cold country that made them cold, very closed and unfriendly. They have mysterious Russian soul which no one can understand» – main highlights of the article. I saw the side of my homeland that I’d never seen before.
To be honest, those words got stuck in my head for years. And there were two reasons.
First one was that I couldn’t relate to Russians just with that definitions. My parents are so kind and open – how can they talk about us like that?! The saddest thought was that Russia is perceived like that in all countries (just imagine: every person in each corner of the world thinks about your homeland as a country of alcoholics – not pleasant feelings, you know).
And the second reason (which was even worse) was that partly these definitions were true.
For many years my grandfather had been an alcoholic. And workaholic in the same moment. He was a miner. It’s a very physically demanding job. It’s kind of mindset of some Russians: you have to work hard and never care about state of your health and then to go to drink even harder. Now my grandfather is 68. And he is disabled (legs, lungs, hands are affected by different illnesses). Story like this one is not at exception for my country.
Me and my colleagues from AIESEC started this project in order to show real Russia. And I think the worst thing that we could do is to start telling about the county in a protective way: «You know, we don’t drink in Russia and all Russians are very kind, open and generous..». Why so? Because I do believe that there is no country or nationality in the world where all people have totally the same characteristics.
Working in AIESEC, an international youth organization, I met a huge diversity of nationalities from over the world. And that’s what I found out:
They might say that all Russians are rude alcoholics, all Mexicans use drugs, all Egyptians are tricky, Turkish are aggressive, Chinese are good at math.. And that can be a truth. As well as can be a lie. Because all people are totally different.
And there is one thing which unites us – all we are
Russians, Mexicans, black, white, alcoholics, stupid, dangerous humans.
Humans who want to be happy, be loved, have family, be appreciated, see the world.
Who can be smart/stupid, calm/impulsive, be open/unfriendly.
Humans who can love/hate, be alcoholics/do yoga every day, make mistakes and do another «human being things».
And the first thing you should know about Russians is that we are just humans. The idea is that any classification creates labels which holds us back from seeing things in the way they are and close our eyes from their true beauty. The same thing is with people – and with Russians as well. Some things that you’ve heard before about us might be a truth. Yes, we might look closed, cold, unfriendly. Yes, we drink (someone more, someone less, someone doesn’t at all). But there is something which is much more BIGGER than these labels. Something which is beautiful and worthy to get to know.
The purpose of the project is to show the true Russia and to brake the labels in order to give the world an opportunity to get in touch with our culture, stories of people, cities and beautiful nature.
Do you agree that this is important? Share in the comments – what do you know about Russia so far and any things which according to your opinion should be shown here. Stay tuned! 🙂