New guests from Germany learned about culture of Siberia

The Winter School of Intensive Russian Language for a group from Germany has finished at TSU. It was attended by 10 students aged 19 to 65 years. They had already studied Russian in courses at Ruhr University (Bochum, Germany) and decided to improve their language skills and get to know Siberia and its culture more closely.

This is the second school that the TSU Faculty of Philology has conducted with the Institute of Foreign Languages at Ruhr University. All participants had studied in Bochum at different times. Now they live in different cities in Germany, but they gathered thanks to the initiative of the head of the institute, Leo Weschmann. One of the students, Suzanne Habicht, even responded to the offer to go to Tomsk from Zurich, Switzerland.

– In 2016, I spent a vacation in Tomsk. I’d traveled to Russia many times, but before that, I had never been to Siberia. Then I met with Tatyana Demeshkina, the dean of the Faculty of Philology, and the idea of a joint course came up, – said Leo Weschmann. – The first time we held a Russian language school in 2017, we talked a lot about Siberia, about summer, winter weather and said that we need to come at least once in the winter. So, this time we arrived in the winter.

Leo Weschmann emphasized that now in Germany there is a great interest in the Russian language and culture, especially Siberian culture, so a group of people wishing to go to Tomsk gathered very quickly – 8 people responded on the very first day.

All participants in the school have different levels of Russian proficiency, for example, Konrad Hunnekens, a second-year student, has just begun to learn the language; Suzanne Habicht was in Vladivostok twice and went to Yakutsk, Stephan Lack worked for 5 years in Moscow. However, teachers of the Faculty of Philology noted that all students have a good level for everyday communication and tend to speak Russian.

– Until 2014, I lived and worked in Moscow for 5 years, then moved to Germany, and, unfortunately, I didn’t speak Russian for 5 years, so I decided to participate in this course to improve my skills, – said Stephan Lack, a correspondent for the German television and radio company WDR. – Now I sometimes work in Moscow, but Russian language skills are important not only in Russia but also in countries that were formerly part of the USSR, for example, in Tajikistan and Azerbaijan. In this course, the most useful thing for me is developing speaking skills so that I can freely speak Russian, communicate with people, and speak faster. We are talking about Russian preserves and considering environmental issues, and this is all very interesting.

The school curriculum always combines lessons with an active cultural program. Guests meet up with Russian and Siberian traditions, see the pride of Tomsk – wooden architecture, visit the Botanical Garden and museums, and take part in workshops.

– We build comprehensive training, for example, if we plan a tour “Wooden Lace”, when we show the wooden architecture of Tomsk, then the students work on a lesson on the topic “city” and read texts about Tomsk. Or before the evening of Russian cuisine, they watched videos: how the Olivier salad appeared, what it meant in Soviet times, why it became a symbol of Russia for foreigners, – explained Daria Olitskaya, a program manager, assistant professor at the Faculty of Philology.

The students from Germany praised both the educational program itself and the level of organization. Leo Weschmann emphasized that he would like to continue to organize joint language schools with TSU.

TSU holds international winter and summer schools for international students in the Russian language, intercultural communications, management, climate issues, and information technology. They are held to enhance the competitiveness of TSU and attract talented students and graduate students from other countries to the university.

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