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I would enjoy studying the effects of the Cold War in Eastern Europe, particularly in

the former Soviet Union. Another aspect would be to study the individual
perspectives of a variety of people who experienced this time period.
The view of history that we have can be shaped by a variety of sources and vary from
one culture to another. It can also depend on how a particular culture struggled
through crises and changes. In the United States, sometimes it is easy to forget that
the same world events impact other nations and cultures differently and that their
stories shape today’s world in simple, economical, and political interactions. I believe
that learning and documenting the history of other countries is just as important as
learning and documenting the history of our own country.
Every nation, culture, and subculture experienced the years following World War II.
My parents have talked about experiences with immigrants who came from the
USSR to live in the United States. My generation has all heard stories of the Cold
War, but I want to study it and talk to people whose lives were affected by it. I want
to understand how people from different nations and cultures felt and experienced
life during this timeframe.
My desire would be to research individual experiences cross-culturally in a variety of
places in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, looking for the similarities and
differences in the thoughts of those who lived during the Cold War, and how their
thoughts evolved in the years that followed. I’d like to explore how their views might
have changed or strengthened over time, their views of the Cold War and into the
modern day. How do Russians teach Twentieth Century history and where does it
differ from what is taught in the United States, for example?
A beginning study and preparation would involve comparing and contrasting
available texts. Learning basic Russian and Eastern European culture and geography
would also be a factor, as well as finding connections to interview. I would also have
to work out how to approach people to get the most thorough and honest dialogue
with them.
There are a variety of museums and other official treasures available to visit, such as
the Seventy Years of Occupation museum in Latvia, the Kremlin in Moscow, and
other places. I expect to find several differences in how the period is portrayed in
different places. In order to approach how the common person experienced this
time period, it would require meeting people across different economic levels and
various places. Some examples would be former republics, large Russian cities, and
also more isolated places in the former Soviet Union like cities in the Ural Mountains,
the Kamchatka Peninsula and various parts of Siberia.
I would prepare a list of expectations about what my study might show. I would
expect to find different perspectives from people in the city who might have had
favor with the Communist Party than those who did not. Others, such as farmers and
those leading more traditional lifestyles, who were farther away from large cities,
should have had different viewpoints. How did they feel during the different events
of the Cold War and how do they feel now, twenty-five years after the fall of the
Soviet Union?
The importance of understanding how other cultures felt, thought, and experienced
the Cold War should never be overlooked. I believe that understanding and
documenting these events in Eastern Europe is important. These events have had
a tremendous impact socially, economically, and politically on future generations.