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From Halifax to Petrozavodsk for the Karelian Language

LloydCanadian student Richard Lloyd Christoph Morin is a participant of the Finnish-Russian Student Exchange Program FIRST. He is getting a Master’s degree at the University of Joensuu. He came to Karelia and Petrozavodsk State University to collect the materials for his research on the reasons for studying Karelian in Karelia and Finland.
He has a couple of months to learn Karelian. He studies at the Faculty of Philology of PetrSU and attends free courses at the Karelian Art Center of National Cultures and Folk Art of the Republic of Karelia. “It is great that everyone can learn to read and speak Karelian. For some people it is a throw-back to their roots, the others want to learn the history and culture of their native land. For me it is an opportunity to do both,” – says Lloyd. He is interested in everything which is connected with the Karelian culture, traditions, customs. That is why he became a member of Karelian folk puppet theatre “Čičiliusku” (“Lizard”) which consists of the students and professors of PetrSU department of the Baltic and Finnish Philology. In addition to that, Lloyd practices one of the native trades – wood carving. As a result of the practice he would like to make a wooden frame for a Karelian hut. He also hopes to find a tandem partner who he could practice Karelian with.
“Having grown in a small city of Halifax I’m pleased to see that people preserve the language and traditions of their native culture. In order to stay in place where they were born, people need some native things and the language is the thing that helps to feel generation bond. I know that Karelian is an endangered language and is not used actively in everyday life but I would like people to speak Karelian because I’m sure that there must be diversity in culture and life,” – says Lloyd.
Lloyd’s life is actually diverse, too. He tried himself in fine arts and thanks to that he got acquainted with works of the Russian and Soviet painters and sculptors such as Aleksandr Rodchenko and Vera Mukhina. According to Lloyd, painting was the thing that made him interested in learning Russian: “I wanted to know more about the works of the painters, the Russian history and culture”.
Lloyd says that his first unconscious acquaintance with our country was in his childhood when his parents read him a story about a boy named Petya who was almost eaten by wolves. Later he saw books by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak in his home library. When he studied at the university he defended a thesis on works by Daniil Kharms and Korney Chukovsky.
Having already been studying Russian for two years, Lloyd came to Saint Petersburg for the first time. “That was when I noticed that those foreign students who communicated with the Russian students could learn Russian faster and better, it was interesting and enjoyable for them to be in Russia and they didn’t want to come back home. I understood that the more I communicate with the native speakers the more interesting my life can be,” – says Lloyd. He changed his plans one more time and stayed in Saint Petersburg to teach English and French. He spent 4 years teaching and decided to take the Master’s program at the University of Joensuu where he studied Linguistics and Sociology. At the same time he is still interested in studying local minorities and their languages from the scientific point of view.
Lloyd admits that having lived in Russia for more than 4 years he doesn’t feel Russian although he is often said to be one. “I’m something between Russian and Canadian. I speak English, French and Russian but sometimes I don’t understand Russians and what they are. I feel great being in Russia, but I still miss my little homeland – Halifax,” – says Lloyd.
He goes back to Finland in January 2015. He plans to finish his research for the Master’s degree and matriculate for a PhD degree where he can continue his research on such an important and acute topic as preserving the languages of native people living in a cross boarding territory.
Let’s wish him good luck!

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