Russia’s River Villages: Art and Science Still Reign

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The carved detail on this AK-47 gives an idea of the important role art plays in this region. (Photo by Mary Marshall)

Having hitchhiked our way down the Lena River (or up it, if one looks at a map and sees it flowing north), we at last reached the Sakha communities we had traveled so far to visit in eastern Siberia. Everywhere we had gone, we were consistently impressed with the focus on education and the arts. Nowhere in Russia did we see art on walls that was not worthy of gallery presentation, and we were often amazed to discover the artist might be a high school student or younger. On the ships, the art we admired may have been created by deck hands or other crew members.

The strong art component is obvious in the cities and the smallest communities across Russia, and seeing this—alongside the dedication in each community to top-notch education—we were constantly impressed as we toured the schools we visited. We learned that around 95 percent of students in the region continue on to complete university. Algebra and calculus equations dominated blackboards, and images of Einstein and other mathematical, scientific and literary geniuses occupied prominent places on —> Read More Here


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