Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Dr. Arvids Ziedonis, Jr. '55
Majors: Russian Studies
Thank you so much for having sent me the Muhlenberg Russian Studies Program homepage, with lots of details, stories, faculty photos, etc. I enjoyed reading everything and Great work! I love the imaginative way you have presented it. Keep up the good work. Here are a few jobs I have done or will do in the near future, as well as some reminiscences about Muhlenberg College and our Russian Studies Program.
Looking at my own life, I would need at least another 100 years to finish all my projects and plans, and God willing, some of it will still be done. You may have heard that last year (2000) I was in charge of the 17th international AABS (Assn. for the Advancement of Baltic Studies) Conference at Georgetown U., Washington, D.C., with about 150 scholars of various disciplines and countries from all over the world attending. It was a wonderful and challenging experience. Next year I will chair the Religion Division of the 18th AABS Conference at Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, Md.
This summer I led a Muhlenberg Alumni group to the Baltic States - Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and also Finland. It was a great experience, and we also witnessed some of the festivities of Riga's 800th anniversary. I met with some faculty of the U. of Vilnius and the U. of Latvia (Riga), where I am also an adjunct professor.
I finished a book on ethics in Latvian last year, and I am still working on my book on Dostoevsky and hope it will be published soon. So, you see, never a dull moment, but I love every minute of it!
I still look back fondly of my own experience at Muhlenberg College as an alumnus of '55. From 1962, when I started the Russian Studies Program from the ground up and ended up teaching in the Foreign Language Department for over 35 years - all levels of the Russian language, several specialty courses such as my Dostoevsky course, Comparative Literature, Orthodox Christianity, and, of course, my own favorite - 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature in Translation. At times I was teaching almost 10% of the entire students.
Some of my students will, no doubt, still remember the Russian Studies visits to the Soviet Union, and all their wild experiences and many stories, which were part and parcel of the trip to Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Peredelkino (the writers' village), Minsk, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, Odessa, and the republics of Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan, and others. Our visits were carried out just about every year during the summer and also some were during the January break. Usually about 40 students as well as some faculty participated.
Oops, I got carried away, but forgive my enthusiasm when I talk about Muhlenberg and Russian Studies! Carry on! I thank you, Lubov, for your enthusiasm in Russian Studies and continuation of the program. I also thank my colleagues, Dr. Albert Kipa, for his excellent leadership, Dr. Robert Croskey, Dr. William Tighe, and Dr. Mohsin Hashim, your new colleague. Keep up the good work.
With best wishes and God's blessings to all of you and all of your and my students,
-Arvidis Ziedonis, Jr.
Dr. Arvids Ziedonis, Jr. pictured with Russian Studies students during "Alumni in the Classroom" week at Muhlenberg, Fall 2000. Arvids Ziedonis