Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Unveils Walt Whitman Statue ...In Moscow

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
October 16, 2009
Promoting Cultural Understanding Between the U.S. and Russia

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On October 14, Secretary Clinton helped unveil a statue of the American poet Walt Whitman at Moscow State University in Russia. The Whitman statue was conceived as a companion to a statue of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin that was placed on the campus of The George Washington University (GWU) in 1999. Both the University and the Pushkin statue are just a few blocks away from the U.S. Department of State headquarters in Washington, DC. To learn more about the impact of this kind of cultural exchanges, DipNote Bloggers spoke with GWU’s Professor Peter Rollberg.

DipNote Bloggers: Do cultural exchanges like this help foster international understanding and cooperation?

Professor Rollberg: The Pushkin monument is a symbol of the varied, continuing efforts to promote a better cultural understanding between the United States and Russia. It is also an inspiration for the many people who notice it on our campus, stop by, sit on one of the benches, and read the inscription. Many GWU freshmen who are unfamiliar with Pushkin and his legacy ask about Pushkin and are fascinated by the story of his short but rich life, his struggle for values such as honor and freedom, and his enormous output as a poet, prose author, and playwright. Of particular interest is Pushkin's African heritage of which he was proud: his great grandfather was an Abyssinian prince. On various occasions, I also have emphasized that Pushkin was a diplomat, too: his first job was at the Russian Department of State.

DipNote Bloggers: Do U.S. universities such as GWU benefit from links to international institutions and cultures?

Professor Rollberg: Here at GWU, my colleagues and I share in the conviction that a person cannot claim to be genuinely educated without exposure to foreign cultures, be it through literature, film, or music. Regardless of their major, students should develop a perceptiveness toward other nations and their cultural values, a respect for their great writers and artists. This perceptiveness will make their future dealings with foreign business people, diplomats and other representatives more trustful and mutually enriching.

DipNote Bloggers: Has the Pushkin statue become a fixture of the GWU campus over the last ten years?

Professor Rollberg: At the time of the monument's dedication, I chaired our Slavic Department and remember distinctly what a joy it was for faculty and students to welcome this statue to our campus, how much encouragement it gave our efforts to promote Russian language and literature here at GWU. The Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, was present, as was Ambassador Strobe Talbot and many other dignitaries. In my experience, the GWU student body has accepted the statue as one of our most distinct intellectual landmarks. We all are proud of it.

Peter Rollberg is Professor of Slavic Languages, Film Studies and International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. His main field of interest is Russian literature and film.



South Korea
October 17, 2009

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Good picture...

With civil war from Africa accompanied and starving, and the Russia and China food problem which will occur in future... Too from the problem which is enormous speaks to is too much for is an impression.

But, if given a chace to write to me....

The alternative which is continuous is not but... Establishes the sufferer camp which surpasses the border to Republic of Kenya and South Africa and - simply the sufferer village which provides the food and the bed to make the crops cultivate oneself, knows and to develop the specific area does to make the building build, does to make a kind of autonomous city built... The situationof Republic of Kenya and South Africa is difficult but the problem of this place - is quite personal, thinks that inner administration system occurs problems the inside is. - Constructs the sufferer village where the transportation system comes to become connection to will be how?
Northern part Africa interest there will not be a nation of many Europe and peels? Even historical...

Russia and Mongol and China:
Russia and China chooses what kind of method but for a while thinks continuously the thing which will develop. Puts, thinks (the point of view which earnestly becomes each other necessary?)
Between will put and at the intermediate trade base to develop the Mongol which is, neither the fact that develops at the productive base of the food problem which will occur in future will be possibly?
In order harmonizing with restraint cooperation paragraph from will appear what kind of buffer zone to be being necessary, to making the industrial complex which is mesonic, will overcome each other technical difference thinks that the location of the Mongol is suitable. Infrastructure of industry becomes accomplished appropriately the circumference which comes to equip the different countries the investor, " where all conditions come to be sufficient; "Hong Kong of inland"; Thinks that like the possibility of becoming the free investor of finance and industry is.

The Russia and China developmental speed there is a many difference but thinks yet the communist state which operates the nation with Plans Division control. That is like that, the democratization which is unconditional demands a complete competitive setup to, kicks from the world the low the location is competent grows too, about the situation which is difficult with preventive measure tried to think. (So far thinks. Hong Kong and Macao as ever charming)

District Of Columbia, USA
October 17, 2009

Ralph in Washington, DC writes:

In a diplomatic context: Seems an unusual display to be in Russia given Putins position on such personalities as well as the Orthodox Russian Church and recent court rulings (

I wonder if this is represented as a recognizable insult of America for Russian Nationals. Walt Whitman would be considered weak in masculine references by Russian standards, would he not?


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