Graduates of the British Council, members of the Alumni Club, issued an open letter in support of its humanitarian and educational initiatives. They consider everything that happens around this respected organization a misunderstanding. This letter is quite widespread on the Internet. It hit both the press and some Russian government bodies, in particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. About how 10 years ago she studied at the British Council, said St. Petersburg entrepreneur Polina Guseva.
I studied one of the first British Council programs. It was funded by the government. It was a great program. It was an excellent education, an excellent circle of contacts between Russian specialists. And the result that was achieved helped later in professional activities and in communication. Since then, I have maintained close relations with the British Council and the Alumni Club, I believe that these are very useful programs that Russian specialists receive in educational terms and contribute to the Russian economy.
– What were these courses?
– It was a specialty – international tourism. From the city, I alone won this grant. We had one participant from each city of Russia, from 15 cities. There was a rather serious selection. We studied the tourism industry in the UK, then all of this was put into practice in our place, already in St. Petersburg. Later I worked for a British company, and I still keep in touch with my British colleagues, including. This is a very powerful resource and books … We then took books, textbooks, English courses very useful to many, then people passed exams if someone wanted to go abroad to study. And now even more cultural and charitable programs are being conducted, environmental programs. That is, to what Russia is still heading, Britain is already offering cooperation in this.
– How did you come up with the idea to write a letter in support of the British Council, and how was it that you were not afraid in Russia today to sign such letters?
– I just think that this is a misunderstanding, and it will be resolved. Just out of my good feelings for the British Council. I understand that Petersburg is such a cultural city. The British Council is a cultural hub that simply cannot be put out.
– Do you understand the mechanism by which the British Council in St. Petersburg was suddenly closed?
– I think that this lies in the sphere of higher political interests, and that, perhaps, the British Council is only a figure in the chess game that is being played now.
– How did your colleagues respond, guys with whom you studied?
– I received a very warm response in Moscow from our Moscow colleagues, and here St. Petersburg responded too. It was unexpected for me. I found out about this … that is, for a while I worked too much and did not follow the press, then for me it was just like a bolt from the blue, this situation.
– What do you think, how will this whole story end?
– I think that politicians will show wisdom and will not act in an “eye for an eye”, “tooth for a tooth” ways, but some mechanisms will work. That is, even if something is wrong with the documents, according to the convention … that is, it will be possible to refine it over time. This misunderstanding will be resolved. Because, besides the benefit, the great benefit to many people, there is no harm from the British Council.
Russian scholarship holders: British Council needed in the regions
Russian scholars of the British Council distributed an open letter regarding the conflict over the closure of the Council’s offices in Russian regions. Here is the full text of the letter:
Since the beginning of 2008, at the insistence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 15 British Council offices have been closed in Russian regions. We, as citizens of our country and scholarship holders of the British Council, are sad to realize that this decision was made after all that the Council has done for Russia over the past 15 years. We would like to draw the attention of all those who care about the future of our country to this work and the opportunities that Russia is depriving itself of, without showing flexibility in choosing ways to resolve international contradictions.
In the discussions around the British Council, much attention is paid to official and unofficial reasons for the actions taken, but the main question remains in the shadow – do we need a British Council in the regions. We believe that the gigantic work of the British Council in the fields of education and science, culture and international cooperation leaves no alternative but to answer this question in the affirmative.
According to the BS, in 2006-2007, 485 thousand Russians took part in Council projects or visited exhibitions, productions, films organized by it. BS employees in Russia answered more than 338 thousand inquiries regarding the UK and education in this country, 308 thousand people visited the organization’s Russian site.