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From Russia
with Love

Students from Moscow School No. 689,
Russia, and their teachers, Liza
Suklyshkina and Natalia Uglava
wrote in <iearn.hgp> about
discrimination and racism. Their
students collaborated with students
at Cold Spring Harbor High School
in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA.

[ Map of Russia ]

Hello. I am studying in Form 9, School 689. All our class is very interested in the Holocaust/Genocide Project, and I am, too. Now I want to write to you about racial discrimination.

For me, it is not important: If my friend is from another race, I would not criticize him or her, or quarrel. I know some people who have just one idea. For example, Israel quarrels with Germany, and one girl is falling in love with a boy and they want to marry, but their parents forbid the marriage, because she is from Israel and he is from Germany.

When I was traveling by bus, I saw another situation. One man had black skin, and a woman started to criticize him. I was very surprised and told her that she was wrong, but she continued to yell. Half of the people on the bus were on my side (and the man's). After some time the woman stopped yelling, and the man was very thankful to us. I don't know a lot about that problem, but I understand how hard it is for some people.

- Popkova Vica

I live in Moscow and I study in School 689. In our school, there are many people from different nations, and I think there are not many conflicts between students.

Last year, in our class, there was a student name Eric and he was Tatar. Everybody associated with him very well, and everybody was on good terms with him, except for one girl -- but I don't think they argued because he was a Tatar. I think it was because their personalities were very different.

In my mind, all of the wars and conflicts between two different races have no goal, because to destroy one race is not impossible. I think that it is not important what race you are. If you are kind-hearted and have a good character, you can have friends from all over the world, and it doesn't matter what color your skin is.

- Tania Kornishina

Hello, Tania! I read your message about the boy in your school. I am sorry but I do not know exactly what Tatar is. Could you please explain it to me? I loved your last sentence: "If you are kind-hearted and have a good character, you can have friends from all over the world, and it doesn't matter what color your skin is." It is very true, I think. I myself am Japanese-American, among predominatly Anglo-Saxons in my school, and that fact has never been an issue to me, and it has not prevented me from making friends at school. Please write back.

- Love, Hana Mizuno

I am studying in the Ninth Form in School 689. I want to write about my favorite book. This book is about Time, and in this book the main heroes are Time Men.

The Time Men change time when there are wars, or some other problems. People don't like them because they can make a mistake and cause millions of people not to live. I think that the author means people who are very important are not liked; they are people who can change your life. I think that is so, because people don't like changes. This problem is true in our lives. We must solve this problem.

- Ivanov Kirill

I am fourteen years old and I am against fascism and its manifestations. I think fascists are not normal in their belief that people of other races have no right to live.

In our time, there are fascists called "Skins." I am also against them. I want to tell you a story that happened with some Armenian friends. Some unknown people stole a cow and, when they were caught, they said they were Armenian. All the villagers started to dislike all Armenians.

After the trial, however, the villagers discovered that the thieves were, in fact, not Armenian. They were Kazaks. I think that those Kazaks had no right to call themselves Armenian.

I have a friend who dislikes Chinese people, but I know the Chinese are not bad. I think that all people must live together.

- Julia Shapiro

Hi, Suzi! Do you remember me -- Nastia? I want to talk with you about the Holocaust/Genocide Project, and about problems between different nations.

For example, I know some Russian people who do not like Georgians and Chechnyans; they think that these people are the only bad people in the world. Maybe they think as they do because there was a war between Russia and Chechnya.

I disagree with them, because maybe some people are bad, but not everybody! And Russians even do not want to hear it; I do not know why! I think, if they would do so, they would know how mistaken they are!

I am very glad that my parents do not think so, and my father has a friend from Georgia. He is not as people describe Georgians. Unfortunately, it is not just one problem; another problem exists: When a man makes friends with a Chechnyan (or Georgian) and does not know who he is and suspects something, he will ask him first, "What nationality are you?" His new friend will answer, "I am Georgian [or Chechnyan]." The man will yell, "Oh, you are Georgian! I will not be your friend. You are bad!"

These are two big problems I wanted to share with you.

- Nastasia Zhilina

I am fourteen years old and I want to tell you an interesting episode in my life. To my mind, racism is the most stupid and bad thing that I know, but my mother disagrees with me. She thinks that we must be friendly only with Russian teenagers. A few weeks ago, I made friends with a Tatarin teenager. He is a very beautiful and clever boy, but my mother does not like him, because he is Tatarin. I love him very much, but I must listen to my mother.

Certainly, there are a lot of girls and boys who cannot meet because their parents do not like people of another nationality.

- Elena Rogkova Elena

Hi, Matthew! Do you remember me -- Masha Frolova? Last year, I wrote you some letters, and you wrote to me. Now let's talk about the Holocaust/Genocide Project. I agree with people who are against nationalism; for me, nation means nothing. In people, you should see a person's character and attitude toward others.

In every nation, there are bad and good people. We must not accuse all the nation for the mistakes of one. Color of skin does not make us better either. We are the same.

I watch the situation when we quarrel and, in anger, tell each other about our nation or race. Normally, people will never say these things, except during a quarrel, when they want to have an advantage. That is why they do it. In our class was a boy from another country and some pupils beat him for this reason. He left our class, but not because he was beaten.

I think we must forget about our nationalities and live together in peace. I don't mean that we must forget about our traditions; we should remember them and be proud that we have them. Write me and tell me what you think.

- Your friend, Masha Frolova

Hello! I am fourteen and I am learning in the Ninth Form. I want to talk about racial persection. From my point of view, it is a very cruel and hasty thing. It is not a person's fault if he or she is, for example, Caucasian or Jewish, because the main thing in people is character, not nationality or race.

Once I witnessed such a situation. A little Caucasian boy was walking in the street and suddenly two teenagers came up to him and asked him about his nationality. He said he was an Armenian. Those fellows said something to each other and then began to humiliate the Armenian, and one of them hit him. Then those fellows ran away, and I could do nothing. It was horrible. A similar thing happened at my school with a Jew. Such injustice occurs not only in our country.

- Lisa

I want to discuss with you the Holocaust/Genocide Project, and the problems of different races.

One time, I was aware of a similar problem myself. My friend had a boyfriend, who was a Jew and a kind and clever boy. He was beaten by three grown-up boys. In their silly heads was only one thought: If he was a Jew, there was no place for him among the Russians. Of course, they were wrong.

Lately, this issue is not so much of interest. It seems to me that this problem is important to our parents, but not for us. For example, I don't know children who pay attention to the nationality of their friends, the color of their skin, or their accents.

- Ulya Spiridonova

Hi, Ulya. my name is Beth and I am in the tenth grade. I just read your letter and that story about the three boys beating up your fried because of his religion was very disturbing. Today, one of my teachers told me a story about a scientist at a university. This scientist kept trying to prevent women from attending the university and, when women finally were admitted, he quit because he couldn't tolerate the idea of them taking classes where he taught.

People have to learn to stop judging others by their race, religion, and appearance. It frustrates me to see how many people will automatically turn against someone because they learn that the other person is of a certain religion or faith. I think this intolerance that they have usually stems from their family or others whom they admire -- people who show them bad examples. What do you think causes intolerance? Please write back.

- Beth Walker

Hello. I would like to tell you about our Russian problems. A year ago, the war in Chechnya, which started in 1992, ended. The problem was that Chechnyans wanted to be independent and Russia refused to agree and Chechnya started to steal our oil. So our president decided to send the army into Chechnya and the war began.

A lot people died on both sides. And the most awful thing is that they battled for nothing, while politicians discussed the problem. A lot of citizens had to leave their houses and cities and they emigrated to Russia and to other countries. At the end of the war, we lost people, oil, and the republic. Chechnya was almost ruined. Now, there is no official war, but some people still terrorize normal citizens. They even kidnap them.

I hope that soon Chechnya will all be okay, and that we will live in peace with this little, but strong, country.

- Andrey Kozlov

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