Russian and History Personal Statement

Although I was too young to witness at first hand the heady days of revolution that took place in the East as the Iron Curtain was being swept aside, I was privileged enough to live and work in a number of the countries that arose in its wake as they made the gradual transition from the pre- to the post-1989 world.

From my arrival in Poland in 2001 as a young backpacker, through eighteen months working and studying in Ukraine, to my most recent work in Kyrgyzstan, I was always excited by the spirit of change found across the region.

From the dynamism and optimism of the new EU states, to the uncertainties of life in the 'Wild East' of Central Asia, it was fascinating to live in newly independent nations as they grappled with questions of national identity, the role of the state, and the value of democracy.

Speaking Russian has not only been vital to my working life in the last few years, but has also been a source of much satisfaction and enjoyment; this is why I wish to take my language skills to the next level at university and ultimately pursue a career in journalism or diplomacy.

With my interest in Eastern Europe already awakened by an overland trip to Sarajevo, I joined a GAP project in 2002 and spent the year teaching in Poland.

This led to further teaching work in Kiev and Bishkek. An eastward progression that reflected my developing interest in the Soviet Union and my particular curiosity about the states of Central Asia which were becoming increasingly important geo-political players.

After teaching for a year in Bishkek, I worked for five months on the Times of Central Asia, principally as a copy editor. I also wrote several articles, advised on design, and had a series of political cartoons published.

Feeling restricted by the rigid editorial policy, I left the Times in the spring of 2008 to found an independent magazine with a local business partner. The magazine, named the Spektator (www.thespektator.co.uk) and distributed throughout Bishkek, was first published in October 2008 and is now on its eighth issue.

The effort to obtain financial backers, work with a print house, and get a green light from the Justice Ministry in one of the world's more 'bureaucratic' nations was a great benefit to my Russian skills as well as a sharp insight into the local culture.

Throughout 2008 I was also working a 30-hour week for CAMP, a Swiss backed public foundation that aims to help mountain communities achieve sustainable development.

My duties involved co-authoring and editing a major publication, writing PR articles, editing reports for our international donors, and assisting with multimedia projects. My work involved several research trips around Kyrgyzstan and an assignment in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

I return to England with not only a personal perspective on how the relationship between the West and the East is evolving, but also with knowledge and experience that I hope will be an invaluable resource to me during the course of my studies.

I have many interests and hobbies including a love of books. My location has had a strong influence on my reading, and I have particularly enjoyed works by Gombrowicz, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, and Aitmatov. Aside from fiction, I am a subscriber to the Economist and enjoy the writing of Orlando Figes, Christopher Hitchens and Ryszard Kapuszcinski.

Living in Kyrgyzstan allowed me to indulge my passion for the mountains. In addition to helping the Alpine Fund charity with their mountain excursions for disadvantaged youth, I hiked extensively in the Tien Shan, learned basic rock climbing techniques and climbed several mountains over 4500m.

I also have a love, if not a great talent, for team sport. I organised a successful and long-running weekly football evening between ex-pats and locals in Bishkek which ultimately led to the highlight of my chequered sporting career: representing a Foreign XI in a charity football match against a Kyrgyz University XI at the National Stadium in Bishkek. A match we lost 4-1.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by tea_drinker for application in 2009.

tea_drinker's Comments

AS a mature student I have plenty of experiences to write about, but am concerned it reads more like a CV.

Ratings

Statement rating:*****

Comments

Really good to read. You've

Really good to read. You've had experiences that I can only dream of.
Hope you're now doing what you want to do :)

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