Archive for July, 2011

This blog will be about my time in Ulyanovsk, Russia as an English Teaching Assistant through the Fulbright Program at Ulyanovsk State Technical University. My guess is that this blog will be filled with misadventures that happen to me (as I am prone to them) as well as postings about my research project. At the moment, here are the important pieces of information:

Ulyanovsk State Technical University Mascot

1. The Fulbright Program- “The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Approximately 310,000 ‘Fulbrighters,’ 116,900 from the United States and 192,800 from other countries, have participated in the Program since its inception over sixty years ago. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 new grants annually. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide” (http://fulbright.state.gov/about.html).

2. Ulyanovsk – Ulyanovsk, a city of over 600,000, is located roughly 550 miles east of Moscow on the Volga River. It lies between the cities of Kazan and Samara.

The red dot is the Ulyanovsk Oblast

Originally, Ulyanovsk was called Simbirsk, but the city was renamed in 1924 in honor of one of its most famous residents – Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, who later changed his name to Lenin. However, Lenin was not the only well known Russian to come from Simbirsk/Ulyanovsk. Notable residents include the writers I.A. Goncharov, D.P. Oznobishin, S.G. Skitalets, and D.V. Grigorovich; the historian N.M. Karamzin; and poets N.M. Yazykov, D.V. Davydov, and D.N. Sadovnikov. Ulyanovsk’s other claim to fame, and what is more interesting to me, are the UAZ and UMZ vehicle factories. UAZ produces offroad vehicles and trucks for civilian and military purposes, while UMZ manufactures military vehicles such as tanks and missile launchers. For more information about Ulyanovsk, I suggest this website: http://www.welcometoulyanovsk.com/index.php?section=1.

UMZ 2K12 Kub

3. My assignment- At the moment, all I know is that I will be an English Teaching Assistant and Ulyanovsk State Technical University. My host contact at the university told me that I would be assisting with phonetics and that I would know more about my assignment upon arrival, when I will discuss the matter with the head of the linguistics department. Being a technical university, the linguistics department offers both English and German. Hopefully, I can also practice my German while at the university, so I don’t forget it all. I also received a CLEA (Critical Language Enhancement Award) from the Fulbright Program. The CLEA means that I will have additional funding to study the Russian language in a formal setting. If you are interested in learning more about the university, try these two websites. The Russian version is current, but the current English version does not work, so click here for English.

Ulyanovsk State Technical University

4. My project- My project stems out of my love of Mercedes-Benz automobiles. If you know me, you know I have a borderline unhealthy love of older Mercedes (Daimler-Chrysler and Daimler AG models need not apply). For my senior thesis, I wanted to find a way to combine my interests of old cars and Cold War history. After finding a picture of a 1970-something Mercedes-Benz S-Class painted in the colors of the Soviet police on Red Square, I was intrigued. Why were there Western cars being operated by branches of the Soviet government?

Eventually, this project evolved into “The Rocky Road to Modernity: Global Technology Trade and the Soviet Automotive Industry.” Basically, throughout the course of the Soviet Union, the Soviets relied on Western nations and companies (Ford, Renault, Fiat, and Daimler-Benz to name a few) for assistance in first building and later modernizing and expanding its automotive industry. Sometimes foreign nations and companies willingly supplied assistance, other times the Soviets relied on reverse engineering and what was basically theft to meet their needs.

While in Ulyanovsk, a city that contains two of the lesser known Soviet automotive factories, I wish to blog about cars. My experience with Russian car ownership was in St. Petersburg and Moscow, where there seemed to be an almost equal mixture of foreign cars to Soviet and Russian made ones. I want to see what this is like in a smaller and less wealthy city. As a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, I also want to examine the presence and prevalence of car owner clubs in Russia. I know that there is a Lada Owner’s Club, but I don’t know where they have meetings or if they have regional branches. I’m also really excited to learn more about UAZ and UMZ. The city of Ulyanovsk has a museum dedicated to UAZ. I’m hoping that there are factory tours. One of my other car related goals is to see if I can drive either a UAZ or UMZ product. Who knows, maybe one of my souvenirs will be a Russian jeep or tank.

UAZ 469

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