Speaker: Cultural education can heal U.S.-Russia divide

Vladimir von Tsurikov speaks to a crowd of Ripon College students, faculty and community members last week in the college’s East Hall on U.S.-Russia relations through the lens of cultural understanding. Behind him is a 1990 image of, from left, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, President Mikhail Gorbachev, President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. Von Tsurikov argued that cultural comprehension between the countries could improve relations that “could probably not be worse.”

Shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in as president in 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented a symbolic “reset” button to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The gesture was meant to indicate an unburdening of past tensions in U.S.-Russia relations and a fresh start.

However, while the button read “reset” in English, an attempted transliteration of the same word in Russian accidentally became “peregruzka,” meaning “overload.”

Perhaps the miscue was prophetic.

Relations between the United States and Russia seem to be overloaded with suspicion and stereotyping, as they “could probably not be worse,” are at an “all-time low since the end of the Cold War” and show “even further deterioration,” an expert in Russian arts, history and culture told a Ripon crowd last week Wednesday.

But the relationship isn’t beyond repair, he stressed.

Vladimir von Tsurikov, the director of the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, spoke on the impact of cultural comprehension in U.S.-Russia relations in East Hall’s Kresge Little Theatre at Ripon College.

Read the full story in the Sept. 14, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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