Starting from October 2019, the Mikluho-Maclay Foundation launched a new project entitled ‘Russia and Papua New Guinea. Unity in Diversity’, with the support of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. Events will be held at major educational establishments in Port Moresby and Madang. The project aims to provide more insight into the culture and history of Russia, give visitors a chance to explore educational opportunities that Russia has to offer and encourage them to start learning Russian on a regular basis.
The exhibition ‘Russia and Papua New Guinea. Unity in Diversity’ represents a unique cultural event, the first one of its kind to take place in Papua New Guinea. In the run-up to the event, the Director of the Mikluho-Maclay Foundation, Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay, met with James Marape, the Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. At this meeting, N. Miklouho-Maclay spoke about cultural activities scheduled to take place as part of this project – the initiative that was welcomed and endorsed by the state leader. As the Prime Minister pointed out, ‘Our national credo is ‘Friends to everyone, enemies to none’. We are open and eager to collaborate with everyone who comes with good intentions, and such events help us gain a better understanding of this great power, which is undoubtedly highly beneficial for the strengthening of bilateral relations between our two countries’.
The exhibition ‘Russia and Papua New Guinea. Unity in Diversity’ is a mobile exhibition that features 30 photographs, dolls and mannequins dressed in traditional Russian costumes, as well as other artefacts of traditional Russian culture (such as kokoshnik headdresses, matryoshka dolls, kerchiefs with traditional designs and patterns representing various Russian regions, and others).
The exhibition aims to shed light on the Russian ways of life and retraces the history of bilateral relations between Russia and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea that were established around 150 years ago, in the course of the expedition launched by an outstanding Russian scientist and explorer, N. Miklouho-Maclay, to the northeast of the New Guinea Island. To this day, Papua New Guineans cherish the memory of this great pathbreaker, transmitting it from generation to generation.
In the time the exhibition is on display, lectures and tours are given daily, twice a day, providing visitors with basic knowledge about Russia.
Lovileen Gibilen, a law student from the University of Papua New Guinea, shared her impressions about the project: ‘Personally, I really liked this project, as I remember learning about Miklouho-Maclay back at high school, it was so incredibly exciting! I would love to go to Russia, would love to see the famous Russian ballet dancers. I adore the Russian language and would like to learn it, too. This project gave me a chance to gain more insight into the Russian culture, language, and people. Russian is my favourite language and I admire Russians. This has been such a great experience for me, I look forward to visiting Russia someday’.
As Artyom Garin, Mikluho-Maclay Foundation lecturer, noted, the visitors were extremely excited to learn more about Russian culture and traditions. ‘People of all ages visit the exhibition daily, from schoolchildren to the elderly. Lots of things come as a surprise to them, they were particularly impressed to find out, for example, that temperatures in Russian towns range from -30° С during winter to +30° С in summer, and that it would take a week-long train journey to cross the country from east to west, and the sun never sets on its huge territory’.
The visitors were also astonished to discover that Russia is home to over 200 different nationalities and there are 13 languages of instruction, despite the fact that Russian is the official national language. By contrast, there are over 800 languages in Papua New Guinea, whereas the instruction is in English only. Many visitors were surprised to find out that over 300 mln people speak Russian worldwide. All those interested to learn Russian will have a chance to attend Russian language lessons delivered by the St.-Petersburg State Transport University instructors, available both in a classroom and online format, with the organizational support of the Mikluho-Maclay Foundation.