Students in the International Policy Studies M.A. program spent their spring break in Moscow, where they learned first-hand how Russia views U.S.-Russia relations. During the trip, students witnessed protests, met with diplomats and journalists, visited think tanks and financial institutions, and more.
One of the goals of the trip was to overcome the negative perception of Russia that is frequently presented in Western media, and really understand how Russia sees the world. “Students changed their perspective towards Russia, towards the regime. They know that there are many challenges for democratic values, but they could see the same thing happening here, in the United States,” said one of the trip leaders, Juan Lucci ‘17. “I think the students learned how Russia sees the world, which is so different from how the United States sees it, because of their different histories, and the age of their democratic systems. At the same time, that makes Russia special.”
In a visit to the U.S. embassy, students spoke with Ambassador John F. Tefft, who is an incumbent from the Obama administration. They discussed how President Trump has affected U.S.-Russia policy. Students also met with the European Union delegation to Russia, as well as officials at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. They also visited the Skolkovo Institute for Science and Technology "Skoltech" to meet with students.
“We had a great time, it was fun, it was a really holistic experience of Russia,” said Lucci, who said students were able to experience and learn about Russian culture by visiting museums, and eating at local restaurants. They saw a ballet at the beautiful Bolshoi theater, and stayed at the Metropol Hotel, which is located right across from the Kremlin and is a renowned historical site where one of the biggest battles in the Russian Revolution took place.
According to Lucci, the trip was also a bonding opportunity. “Here at Stanford, everyone is super busy, taking different classes, everyone is in their own world, and this trip is the only opportunity the class has to get to know each other,” he said. “In that sense, the objective was completely fulfilled.”
Captions: Inside of the Bolshoi theater (above right). Below, clockwise from left: IPS students at Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Skolkovo Institute for Science and Technology, Victory Park, and the World Bank in Russia. Photos courtesy of Juan Lucci.