The Memorial Union Building’s (MUB) Entertainment Center featured a cultural experience on Friday afternoon, Dec. 2 that challenged stereotypes about Russia and Russian culture. Senior Russian and Spanish double major Morgan Lynch delivered the lecture and offered insight into his experience with Russian culture.
Lynch’s lecture, “Misunderstandings and Moscow – Beyond Russian Stereotypes through Cultural Understanding,” was the last segment of the fall’s Cultural Connections series. The event offered refreshments, conversation and an inclusive atmosphere for those looking for the opportunities to expand their knowledge on Russian culture and bash stereotypes.
Lynch started his lecture by detailing the nerves he first had when arriving to Russia for the first time.
“In the middle of Moscow, passport in hand, I was beyond scared,” he said. “I was alone, it was dark, it was raining and the weather was horrible.”
With giggles from the audience, Lynch continued into his lecture confidently and in good humor. He explained that his preconceived notions about Russia had largely been negative, and can in part be attributed to the United States media.
“As someone who has lived in the United States their entire life, I have seen so many media, so many pop culture ideas about Russia that are just not true, and I can say that positively now after being there,” Lynch said.
Lynch told his audience about one of the things that really bothered him once he arrived in Russia.
“I had all these ideas in my head about what I was going to see,” he said.
One of the main stereotypes that Lynch challenged once arriving was the idea that Russians were always drinking vodka. After sitting through his lecture, the audience learned that tea was actually the national beverage. Throughout his presentation, Lynch was able to use food as a main way to challenge stereotypes and break down barriers between the United States and Russia.
“We have a big stereotype about Russian food,” he said while displaying pictures of vodka, beets, cabbage and meat on the board.
“It is so, so difficult to tell you what the Russian diet is…Where you are in the country, what area you’re in, what restaurant you’re at, is going to affect so much of what you’re eating,” Lynch said.
Lynch used food as a recurring theme throughout the lecture as a tool to grasp his audience and give them something to relate to. He even made a Russian dish for the audience to try.
The dish, unfortunately named “dressed herring” or “herring under a fur coat,” is a salad composed of beets, potatoes, carrots, chopped onions and mayonnaise. Due to the name and the fishy connotation associated with it, Lynch described to the group his reluctance to try it.
“It’s now one of my favorite dishes,” Lynch said.
Lynch wrapped up his lecture by encouraging audience members to try the salad so that they too can work on challenging stereotypes and preconceived ideas.