During the preparations for National Unity Day (or Consolidation Day), which takes place annually on November 4th, students from Dickinson College traveled to the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The holiday, which was established in 2005, commemorates Kuzma Minin’s role in uniting the independent Russian kingdoms of the 17th century and defeating the Polish Intervention in Moscow and Western Russia. Besides being immersed in the Minin’s home-city’s celebratory atmosphere, students had the opportunity to visit several museums to learn about the local history, including: art, prominent figures, and the automobile industry.
Nizhny Novgorod was first established as a small military outpost that defended the meeting of the Oka and Volga rivers, which allowed the city to quickly become a center of trade. The city would come to be the home city of many influential Russian citizens, such as: Alexander Popov, the acclaimed inventor of the radio; Maxim Gorky, the prominent Soviet writer for whom the city was named during the Soviet Era; Valeriy Chkalov, a Russian explorer of Alaska, the North Pacific, and the North Pole. Students even visited the home of the parents and elder siblings of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state.
While quite cold, the students were able to make the best of the chance to explore and learn more about Russian history and culture in city through the language.