I regularly evaluate application packets from groups of students from different countries who are in some stage of their Masters degree and want to come to the US for a year to take courses at US universities. As part of the packet, they include a personal statement. There’s also a CV, transcripts, test scores. It’s a great thing for the students because they get all their expenses paid, a stipend, a tuition waiver, and an opportunity to teach one course per semester about their culture.
I’ve evaluated applications from different countries but yesterday for the first time I got a bunch of Russian students to evaluate. Yes, it’s all silly hype about Russians being banned from study opportunities in the West. This is all done through the Department of Homeland Security, and there were zero problems with getting visas for these students. Next year, I’ll do my damndest to get Ukrainian students instead.
In any case, I made some interesting observations that I wanted to share. The first thing is photos. Apparently, in Russia people often put photos even on academic CVs. Several of the photos were downright inappropriate outside of the context of a dating site. The group I got is 100% female.
One of the applicants wrote an essay (and these packets were done in December of last year) about how Ukraine is bombing peaceful cities in the Donbass and pretending it’s not true. Another wrote about how the West hates Russia. Yet another student informed us she wants to come to the US to dispel the stereotypes about Russian bears, vodka, and the KGB. I’m thinking, “honey, the kind of stereotypes that exist about Russia right now, you should be praying people thought the worst thing about your country has to do with bears walking down the streets, playing their balalaikas.” Yet another one wants to study how the US oppresses women through gender stereotypes. One student wrote a long pouty essay about how the US culture is dominant in the world while the Russian isn’t, and that’s unfair. One positioned herself as an ethnic minority, and I stared at the photo for a long time to figure out what minority she is because she’s clearly 100% Russian. I’m guessing she’s an ethnic minority not in Russia but globally. Which is everybody who isn’t Chinese but whatever.
In short, it was fun.