Minorities Abroad Project
Name: Crystal Farmer
Destination: St. Petersburg, Russia
Time Abroad: Summer 2006
Ethnic Self-identification: African-American
I was a self contained tourist attraction in Russia. In the midst of me worrying about how to conjugate the word stop and what to do with kopecks, I had to worry about how I represented the entire black race. I was asked about my home life, had pictures taken without my permission, and was stared at for a long overnight train ride. I had more in common with my fellow study abroad students than I did with the African graduate student I met, but I noticed that people automatically associated us together. It was frustrating, but after a while I began to understand that most Russians had no idea about the diversity of people from the United States. They only saw a sliver of our lives from the news, Internet, and TV shows. So I didn’t fault them for being curious about me. I just gave them a smile and hoped I didn’t miss my bus stop.