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Elizabeth Krysiek is currently attending Russian Studies Abroad in Moscow, Russia and was one of the students whose participation in this ambassadorial event was arranged by The School of Russian and Asian Studies.


SRAS Students Attend Ambassadorial Town Hall
By Elizabeth Krysiek

Students participating in The School of Russian and Asian Studies’ study abroad programs in Moscow attended a town hall meeting featuring Michael McFaul, the American Ambassador to Russia on March 22, 2012. McFaul, who was appointed to his office in January of this year, welcomed Americans living abroad in Moscow to the Spaso House, his on-site residence.

McFaul began the night by formally introducing himself to the American citizens as their new Ambassador and outlining his reasons for calling the town hall meeting. First and foremost, he impressed upon the audience their importance in his acclimation as Ambassador. Some of the American citizens in attendance have been living in Moscow for over 30 years, and McFaul highlighted their different expertise and disciplines that could be of use to him for the duration of his appointment. Secondly, he addressed the role of all Americans in Russia acting as individual ambassadors of the United States. He challenged all citizens present to act as representatives of America according to its founding principles and values, even while in Russia.

Following his welcoming remarks, Ambassador McFaul then opened up the floor for an informal Q&A session with all members of the audience. He answered questions regarding a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to America’s missile defense shield with regard to Russia, relations with President Elect Putin and President Medvedev, and ways to develop better cultural ties and understanding between Russia and America.

Both prior to and following the Ambassador’s comments, SRAS students had the opportunity to mingle with professionals in many diverse lines of work, including the foreign service, international defense, education, journalism, and business. As many of these men and women first came to Russia through study abroad programs, SRAS students were able to explore their own options for returning to Russia after the conclusion of their study abroad program. Additionally, students were able to personally meet and speak with the Ambassador and his wife about their experiences in Moscow, their home universities, and the Ambassador's own experiences as a professor at Stanford and his time as a student in Russia.

This unique opportunity emphasized the importance of our time in Russia as students. Making connections with Americans already established in Moscow juxtaposes the cultural experiences we have every day while abroad with a framework for knowing how to best apply the skills learned and experiences gained to building our future professional lives.

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