Baldwin A Baker University student who just returned from her third visit to Russia hopes her experiences will open the door to an international career.
Melinda Farris, Winchester senior, arrived in the United States earlier this week after spending a month in Tver, Russia, about 60 miles northwest of Moscow. She worked at Tver InterContact, a company that establishes links between businesses in Russia and others worldwide.
She had traveled to Russia for two weeks with a Baker interterm class during her freshman year, and returned last summer to study Russian for two months at Tver State University. She worked for InterContact while going to school.
Back in Kansas, Farris corresponded with the company by fax machine, and got approval to return to Russia for an internship. She encountered problems when applying for a visa, but finally received it on Dec. 28. She left Jan. 2.
THE MASS communications major said her responsibilities during the internship varied.
"I edited the first draft of a business book on American banking," she said. "I wrote lots of letters and correspondences."
She was paid 600 rubles for the month, which equaled about $6. "And I really lived off of it," she said with a laugh.
However, she added, her landlords required rent in U.S. dollars and also provided some food.
Farris, 21, said she saw firsthand how the Russian people struggle with daily life.
"You could tell if a store had food that day because there would be long lines," she said. "You could wait an hour to two hours for bread."
A typical monthly salary is 300 to 400 rubles, Farris said.
"A kilo of sausage is 500 rubles," she said. "A woman has to spend seven or eight times her monthly salary for a good pair of boots."
She got the impression that people expect the economy to improve, but not in their lifetimes.
SHE ALSO saw die-hard Communists wearing red carnations and waving communist flags near a Lenin monument one day, and heard frequent rumors of impending coups.
"Times are really tough there for sure," she said.
Farris hopes someday to work as a Moscow correspondent for a newspaper or magazine, or land a job with a company in Russia. After graduating in May, she'd like to take part in an intensive Russian program at Middlebury College in Vermont.
"I know that if I ever want to work for Tver InterContact again I could," she said, adding that she knows of several U.S. companies in Russia eager for native English-speaking employees.