This English-language student said the biggest event of the pasy year was a trip to Italy, her first visit to a foreign country. "I alsolutely loved it. People there are happy, friendly, open...not rushing around and angry at the world." She said she chose English as it's "the language of languages" and loves to sit and think long and hard how to most beautifully translate literature. When not studying, she plays experimental music with her bass guitar. The photo was taken in front of her university.
Victor, 59, was sitting on a bench in the center of Minsk and I approached him to get his views on the city. He ignorned the questions and talked about his painting career. He said as a university student in USSR, he - like other students - was sent to a village to help with the potato harvest. While taking a break in a village house, he noticed a typical Belarusian rug with flower designs on a black background. The babushka let him take it. Twenty years later, he came across the rug amongst his stuff and it inspired a painting in his 'Snow in Black Square' series. The series itself is a play on 'Black Square' by Kazimir Malevich, who lived a few years in Belarus. Victor's site is: www.vitart.net
Artyom & Denis perform chillout and ambient music outside their regular jobs. Artyom said he started experimenting with music while attending a military school and played trance for a while. I asked how he got into these other music genres. "I was resting with a friend by a river early one morning outside Minsk, when we heard ambient music and it inspired us."
Evgeniya and her boyfriend Vanya (left) were visiting the friend (right) who initially intoduced them. Evgenia said she is going to be a baker like her grandmother. She fondly recalled visiting her grandmother at work for first time at the age of 8. Her grandmother let her play with the dough. I asked Evgenia what her favorite pastery is. 'Eclair - it's the hardest to make, but it is the most delicious.'
Anna, an English-language student, was listening to 'Shadow Maker' by Finnish-rock group Apocalyptica as she walked toward her university, adding she 'can't stop listening to it. Higher up on her list of favorite groups is Canadian rock band 3 Day Grace. Anna said attending their concert in Minsk was the most memorable event in 2014, 'a dream come true.'
If the outdoor market in Elista, Kalmykia tells you anything, it's that this region of Russia isn't doing well economically, something expressed in the number of young Kalmyks traveling to other regions for work. I saw Murat at the outdoor market in Elista in his NYC shirt. He said he came from Uzbekistan to work in Elista...an indication that the work/wage situation in Uzbekistan isn't any better.