The wonders of Russia from the eyes of Dr Vladimir Donskoy our recent visitor to District 9780.
Dr Vladimir Donskoy, co-founder of Rotary in Russia, spoke to the members and guests at recent  Rotary Club of Ballarat West meeting about… the collapse  of  the Soviet Union and traumatic transition from communism to capitalism.  There was a shortage of everything. Now things are getting far better.  However, in the 90s it was a bit like the Wild West.
A number of the Russian people who originally joined in 1990 joined Rotary to be able to visit or go to live in the USA. As of now, there are 127 cubs in Russia and 1,200 members. Slowly but surely Rotary in Russia is growing and is getting integrated in RI through participation in RI and TRF programmes. Rotarians in Russia undertake major projects in the community service area by providing books for orphanages and playgrounds equipment for disabled children. They also support hospices and do a plethora of other projects
We have many exchange students from all parts of the world on a humorous note German students are sent for correctional reasons.
When Vladimir took on the task of translating the Rotary’s “Manual of Procedure” he encountered a number of challenges in trying to translate the concepts and words. For example,   Zone 8 would be a confusing word as zone in Russian means ‘prison/Gulag’.’  However, he has managed to be the author of three definitive publications in Russian on the inner workings and philosophy of Rotary. The books are referred to as the ‘Rotary Bible’ for Russian-speaking Rotarians and non-Rotarians.
He spoke of being the founder and coordinator of the “Watch, Learn and Do” programme for business students from the University of Irkutsk, Siberia. He acknowledged the wonderful support which was given to two of his students by our Rotary club and how both Violetta Makarova and Danil Glukhov went back changed by their experiences. Danil was most impressed by how management heads related to the staff at the Town Hall and commented that he would use what he saw as a role model for his business practices in the future.  He felt that the students learnt more from these experiences than just getting the theoretical knowledge.  He sends students to English speaking countries America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England. He told the audience that they knew what VIP meant but did they know what “VPI” meant and … Very Poor Individuals.
He told us Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world and the temperatures in winter can get to minus 50 degrees in Siberia which is often referred to as the “End of Beyond”.  You may get the idea that it is always cold but during our summer it can get as high as 30֯ which is very pleasant. He has left a couple of short videos which we may like to watch to get better overall picture of his this part of the world.