On Thursday mornings I have two 80-minute lectures at the Environment Institute at Far Eastern State University (DVGU), so I get up rather early (about 7:00), and head over to the university at 7:45. I walk there. Right now the snow is melting during the day in the city, but things freeze at night, and early in the morning the streets and sidewalks are still rather iced over. So I shuffle along as best I can, especially on the hills. Today I took a nice fall – I find this happens once every 2 weeks or so. I’m not alone, and I find that people falling on the ice fails to attract much extra attention around here.
So my classes. In fact they are closer to 60 minutes in length, because they always start late and often end early. The first class (Nature Protection and Regional Environmental Issues) starts at 8:00 am, and I’ve detected a pattern for how it goes: the professor reads a very good lecture (today’s topic was a continuation on criteria for and approaches to evaluating ecosystem health), but he talks a little too fast for us to get everything down. The Russian students are not too appreciative of the entire academic experience, as far as I’ve gathered. One girl in the class usually takes notes, while everyone else talks and sends SMS messages on their cell phones. General practice at DVGU tells me they’ll probably all copy down the one girl’s notes some other time.
I take my second class, Political Geography, with a different and much more well-behaved group of students. They are more like the Russian students I took classes with in
No time for swimming today, as the pool is crowded at all day times except from 11:00 to 3:00, and I have to go out to the
Besides the waiting in line, paying the bill is simple. Then it’s a muddy walk off to the nearest train station to catch 12:05 electric train (“electrichka”) to the Institute of Marine Biology (IMB). Today I have 2 main purposes there: to meet up with Liliya, IMB’s education specialist, who works from home most days, and to consult with Andrei Maliutin, the director of the Far Eastern Marine Zapovednik (Nature Reserve), assuming he hasn’t left for Moscow – a plan left precariously hanging in the air.
In the office where Liliya works there are guests, and I get to meet Denis, one of the guards from Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik, a much too tiny reserve created specifically for the protection of the Amur leopard, the world’s most endangered large cat; Diana Solovyova, a scientist from Wrangel Island Zapovednik (Nature Reserve), which has some of Russia’s best ecological monitoring programs (particularly for birds); and a scientist from Denmark who is joining Diana’s team from Wrangel Island for a month in the field as his “vacation.” Diana and the scientists from
Maliutin fortunately (for me) had not left town, so I got a chance to have a chat with him today, too. Despite the fact that he cancelled his working trip to
Maliutin and I also discussed my goal of conducting a comparative analysis of protected area management experience in the Russian Far East, and how to best approach this task. Maliutin recommended taking the same approach as with the monitoring system we had just discussed: define a set of key indicators that should be comparable across all the protected areas in the
By 5:00 it was time to head back to downtown
As we walked from the train station to the main square downtown Natasha told me about interesting happenings she and Gennady had be privileged enough to observe on public transportation – a bus ride from Seattle to San Francisco – while in the States a few years back.
So I walked the 30 minutes back to my apartment – being careful not to get run over, of course – and got home just in time to make dinner, watch a silly sitcom while it cooked, eat and write you this blog. A good day in
Pictures: 1. Vladivostok train station, 2. main square in Vladivostok -- monument to the fighters for Soviet power