Thursday, July 09, 2020

On November 19th 2019 I travelled to Moscow, Russia to attend The New Generation International Youth Forumon the ‘Development of public Diplomacy, the forum was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Russian Federation and attracted participants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Central Asia, Europe and Botswana. My travel was fully funded by the Russian Government.

I arrived in Domodedovo airport, Moscow, very early on the 20th of November. At the airport I was met by very kind and cheerful immigration officers who were very surprised yet impressed by my very good command of Russian language, the entry into Moscow was very smooth, and it felt like travelling to a SADC country because of the visa free travel arrangement between Botswana and the Russian Federation, I was very impressed by how easy it was for Batswana to enter the Russian Federation. I was then met by one of the event organizers who then ushered me to the Holiday Inn hotel in Central Moscow, where all delegates where hosted. After a very long rest I joined the other delegates at an introductory dinner which was hosted by the Rossotrudnichestvo( The event organisers), at the dinner I got acquainted with other delegates, from various CIS and Central Asian States. It was at this dinner that the program was formerly opened.One of the first things that I noticed about Russia upon my arrival was the warmth of her people, contrary to how Muscovites are usually portrayed by media and Hollywood, their warmth is incredible. They and they surprisingly friendly and very helpful.

On the second day of the program we started early through the rush hour traffic to the Rossotrudnichestvo offices where we met with the program Coordinator. It was a very cold morning and while slowly moving through the heavy traffic I found myself carried away by the beauty of the Moscow, decorated by her numerous parks, monumental structures and a very sophisticated road network. In our meeting with Rossotrudnichestvo I learnt that Russia has one of the most active youth parliaments in the world which ensures youth participation and inclusion in governance of the country. We ended the first day with a tour of Moscow and a walk on the famous red square. The walk on the red square and a visit to the Bolshoi Theater was the highlight of my trip, Moscow is a very modern yet culturally rich society. I was very impressed and surprised by the infrastructure and architecture in Moscow, Moscow is a very modern megacity with a very impressive transport network, what fascinated me most was the beautiful and museum like metro stations. Russia has overwhelmingly positively surprised me. Moscow is home to most of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe. My visit to Moscow City revealed a modern face of Russia which is rarely shown on the media.

The third day was the last day of the forum and it was on this day that we visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the academy of International Relations. I was very impressed by the young workforce at Ministry of International Affairs. At these sessions we were given seminars on the different approaches in public diplomacy and I learnt a lot for the sessions and panel discussions.

In summary my impression of the Russian Federation and of Moscow was that, Russians are indeed a modern society, which is very dynamic, innovative and very inclusive. I did not observe any discrimination or Racism while Russia. I observed from this trip that Russia is a very culturally diverse country and is very developed in terms of her infrastructure and its society. Russians are a very warm, hospitable and welcoming nation. I also observed that Russia is not as gloomy and as cold as it is portrayed to the world. Russia is indeed a very beautiful and safe country.

Seleka Clifford, alumni of Rostov Medical University.