ETU “LETI”: Staying Connected and Sharing Experience: Students from Russia, France, and Japan Discussed the Coronavirus Crisis

From October 14 to December 23, 2020, students of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI” took part in a joint online project on Social and Industrial Changes under COVID-19 Pandemic Effect with Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan) and the University of Hybria/Eclat (Lyon, France).

“At this moment, there is hardly an area of human activity that has not been affected by the spread of COVID-19. The impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on higher education and other areas of human life varies in different countries and regions. We discussed this and other issues in detail during the project.”

Maria Kiseleva, Head of the International Academic Mobility Office of ETU “LETI”
The organizers created the project to acquaint students with other societies, help them understand that there are no bad or good cultures, and the differences in them are fascinating. The participants learned how to make presentations in a foreign language as effectively as possible, improved their speaking and writing skills in English, learned a lot about the cultures of Japan and France, and gained a new perspective on the Russian culture.

Students discussed how the crisis revealed sociopolitical differences among European Union countries and affected intercultural communication. Participants considered the justifiability of introducing citizen control systems and speculated on what measures the governments of Russia, Japan, and France would take to minimize the environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The project turned out great. At first, it was quite worrying, and the group meetings bothered me the most. But it turned out to be not so scary, but on the contrary, it was exciting and informative. It was interesting to learn about the traits of the different countries, listen to the accents of foreigners, and chat not only about the course. The meetings made me feel like I went abroad and talked to the locals, which couldn’t have made me happier. Now I want to visit Japan or France even more”, Maria Zhuravleva, a 4th-year student of the Faculty of Humanities, shared.

Invited experts from Rosmorport, Export’ease, TOYOTA Motor Corporation – companies directly influenced by the pandemic – also took part in the project. They talked about how the enterprises were able to adapt to the new conditions.

“I want to express my gratitude to all the people who contributed to this project. I believe that it is important to stay connected in these difficult times even though we cannot meet in person. International cooperation should not stop. We are lucky to live in a century when the internet and modern technologies make it possible to communicate with people all over the world in real time.”

Ekaterina Kern, a graduate of the Faculty of Humanities of ETU “LETI,” Assistant Director of the North-West Branch of Rosmorport
The project has strengthened cooperation between the participating universities. The next joint event will take place in the spring of 2021.

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