Share The Moment!
A US Delegation in Siberia
The US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, eBay.com boss John Donahoe, Twitter.com co-founder Jack Dorsey; Ellis Rubinstein, the president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, several other government officials and company CEOs, as well as Ashton Kutcher, the Hollywood star known for his love of social media, came to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk on February 19-21.
Sharing the moment: US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle (right)
This trip is part of the broad dialogue launched by the Bilateral Presidential Commission created by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in July 2009. On February 19, the American guests met with the Novosibirsk regional administration, and with many scientists, entrepreneurs, and CEOs of innovative companies. They also visited a high school in the city of Novosibirsk. On February 20, the whole group came to Academgorodok, the academic research community near Novosibirsk, where they had several official meetings, and a long Question and Answer discussion session with local university students and the press.
Ambassador John Beyrle opened the event with the following address:
“Your region, Siberia, is one of the brightest academic centres of Russia. We believe that here, the future of your country is forged. Supporting innovations, science and technology are among the top priorities for both our countries. We hope that our visit will promote international cooperation. We wish to get acquainted not only with the achievements in various spheres, but also with the expectations of scientists, businessmen, and people working in education and health services”. Ambassador Beyrly also said that Novosibirsk, as a city of innovations, may become a sort of link between the two countries. The Ambassador spoke flawless Russian. Novosibirsk students spoke very good English, so that both the visitors and the local young people could ask questions and get answers directly, without any help from translators.
There were a number of questions about international cooperation, student exchange programs and grants. Ambassador Byerly advised those who wanted to visit the USA to take part in the well-known program called “Summer Work & Travel”, which allows young people to come to the USA for a few months, to earn some money and to travel around the country. He also noted that today it is possible to establish contacts, and to work with an international company, or to take part in an international project, via the Internet. No matter where you live, he said, you can be a part of the international community today. Jared Cohen of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning shared his impressions of the Novosibirsk airport. “There is a lot of snow in Siberia, but there are no traffic problems. Maybe we ought to learn how to cope with the snowfalls from you”.
Mr. Ellis Rubinstein, President, New York Academy of Science, spoke about international cooperation in sciences. John Donahoe, of eBay, and Jack Dorsey, Twitter.com co-founder, shared their experiences of creating their companies, and gave examples of the many obstacles they had to overcome.
Ashton Kutcher, one of the best-known Twitterians, with more than four million followers, was recruited by the US State Department to join a delegation heading to Russia to discuss how communications technologies and social media can be used to strengthen and broaden the ties between the United States and Russia. He began his address to the Siberian students with an offer to turn on their cell phones, cameras, etc. Mr. Kutcher tweeted about all the events during his stay in Russia, and streamed the actual meetings, so that one could watch them live via his Twitter account.
Ashton Kutcher at the press conference, The House of Science, Novosibirsk, Russia
Today, technology allows every user to share the moment at once, to connect with their peers around the globe. “You are the new generation, the future of the planet. But to make a difference, you have to wish to be that future, to work really hard”, said Mr. Kutcher to the students. He also spoke about his production company Katalyst, and about the Demi and Ashton Foundation, which works on anti-trafficking issues.
“After an amazing day of connecting with elite minds in Siberia, I’m inspired by the potential of our collaboration”, tweeted Ashton Kutcher.
He must have been pleasantly surprised by his Siberian fans reactions to his presence. When the press-conference was over, Mr. Kutcher was greeted by a large crowd of young girls. Their scream when they saw him would have made Robert Pattinson proud.
The visit was yet another milestone in promoting international cooperation in many spheres.
When we see such a diverse group of people who all believe in the beneficial role of technology, in connectivity, we know that we really make a difference in the world.
Before the meeting, I was asked to help students with the following problem: how to address people correctly? For example, none of them knew how to address a woman if unsure of her marital status. Some students would say, when addressing a man, “Mr. Ashton”. Let us sort this out.
Mrs. (pronounced /missis/) – a married woman;
Miss – an unmarried woman;
Ms. (pronounced /miz/) – any woman, especially a professional one.
All these forms should be used together with the last name, for example: Mrs./Miss/Ms. Smith.
Madam, ma’am (pronounced /mam/) is a polite form used to attract a woman’s attention, especially when you don’t know her name.
Mr. (mister) + last name, for example: Mr. Smith.
Sir (when you are unsure or don’t know the name).
Sir + first name, if it is a title, British only, for example: Sir John, or Sir John Smith, but not Sir Smith.
Some Common Mistakes
Sadly, even though only senior students were present, I could hear the same old mistakes in their speech.
“We ready to talk”, “He nice”, “My name Ivan”.
We teachers should pay attention to the present tense of the verb to be. It does tend to evaporate when students talk spontaneously.
“He look”, “She say”.
Yes, that familiar ghost, or the old chestnut, third person singular ending ~s, does tend to fluctuate.
Photos by the author