At a time when headlines about Russia are increasingly common, a group of Regent University students decided to spend part of their summer studying and learning firsthand about the Eastern European nation. From May 18-26, the group of students from the Robertson School of Government (RSG), as well as the School of Law, participated in an Education First Study tour, designed to provide cultural insight and perspective to students.
During their week-long trip, the group visited sites of ancient and modern significance, including: the Slavic Center for Law & Justice (SCLJ), The Kremlin, Red Square, and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, as well as the European University of St. Petersburg, the Museum of Russian Politics, and a number of historic churches in St. Petersburg.
For Linda Waits-Kamau (RSG ’16, Law ’17), one of the most impactful parts of the trip came during her stay in Moscow. “Our visit to the SCLJ in Moscow, a branch of the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), was one of the highlights of our tour,” she recalled. “Our host described cases related to religious freedom in Russia after the recent passing of the ‘Religious Extremism’ law in Russia.”
The goal of their trip was to better understand Russia’s history and culture, as well as the transition from communism to its current form of government. The trip followed on the heels of RSG’s first offering of its Russian History & Politics course.
In addition to taking in numerous historical sites, students had the opportunity to meet with journalists, as well as engage in discussions about the challenges of being a journalist in Russia.
“When you are able to go abroad and spend some time in a culture, things that were once merely theoretical become real,” explained Dr. Mary Manjikian, associate professor in RSG and the trip’s leader. “For example, our students had learned about the difficult climate now for journalists in Russia, but that was really brought home to them when they met with Russian journalists and heard about events from their point of view.”
“This trip changed my perspective on the way I view traveling the world and daily life in general,” said third-year law student Sandra Stanzione. “Being in different cultures (including the airports in Paris and Amsterdam) gave me a more practical understanding of what different cultures are like in person as opposed to what we hear about them.”
“It was great to see our students—many of whom had never been abroad before—develop a taste for the adventure of foreign travel,” Manjikian added. “Students are already talking about when they can go abroad again, including back to Russia!”