Face to Face – Interview with Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge
Posted on February 23rd, 2011

 Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

1)    Marina Stern migrated to North America from Russia in early nineties and she experienced her life during the Soviet period, the era of Perestroika and the epoch of the   transition to Capitalism. Graduated from the Ivan Franko State University in the USSR, Marina is now working as a teacher. She has teaching experience for over 20 years and has trained thousands of students form more than 30 countries. Today in the interview she would like to shear her life experiences with the readers.  

 1)    What was your  experience living    when you were living in the Soviet Union

  Answer: I lived in the USSR until I was 23 years of age. During that period     many people were confronted with lack of freedom and often had to disguise their real thoughts and feelings. The secret service KGB was on lookout in many aspects of our lives.  We had limited access to any information that didn’t fit into the soviet concept of the world and people. We were segregated from the rest of the world.

 2)    What was the good side of the Soviet social system

 Answer:  Unlike in the North America everyone had guaranteed job. There was no    unemployment or it was not significant. I did not see absolute poverty under the Soviet regime. Also I should mention that there were no super rich   people either. In that period the wealth had to be covered and wasn’t approved of.

 3)    How do you view the process of Perestroika

 Answer: Perestroika” was a good idea but it was too late! When the Perestroika,   started, the state had no inner strength or capacity for any cardinal changes. The society was corrupted; people were disappointed and frustrated with their lives. Agriculture and industry sectors were inefficient.  When perestroika appeared the society needed total demolition rather than reconstruction. 

 4)     What were the major changes experienced by the Soviet people during the Perestroika

 Answer: People could leave the country (under certain circumstances) and express their emotions and feelings (to a certain extent) without a fear of being arrested.

 5)    How do you view the present situation in Russia under the Capitalistic Economic System

 Answer:  I know very little living outside of Russia.   I don’t think I’m competent enough to judge the situation in Russia since I am not living there now. According to my friends and relatives who live in Russia I get very controversial feedback   depending on their financial l situation. However, all of them seem to be very unsure about their future and not very optimistic about their present.

6)    As you see what are the major differences between the East and the West     

 Answer:  Life Philosophy I would say . I personally tend to switch to the Eastern philosophy. The Western philosophy is the philosophy of today and now. It’s practical. Eastern philosophy is a global picture of life, life as experience. However, I appreciate individualism and personal freedom.  Therefore some of my ideas are Western. I don’t approve collectivism and limitation of human freedom when it comes to the perception of life and setting goals. My past in a Socialist country serves as a negative experience of total collectivism. 

 7)    Do you have any additional thoughts

 Answer: I view myself as sum total of my experiences. The older I get, the less I identify myself with a particular religion, nationality or ethnic group. Wisdom is scattered throughout the world. My goal is to find truth wherever it may be, that my soul accepts, since I believe that soul is the main instrument, a tool that enables us to perceive life,  ourselves and others. I’m an eternal student who shares with others my knowledge if they are willing and able to learn from me. I’m not ashamed to learn from anyone, from a small child to my enemy if their wisdom is perceived as essential and new by my soul.  

 I love Russia because it was the place I was born. I wish Russia and Russian people the best. They are sincere, talented and deserve a decent fate after all. 


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