April 27, 2003May 18, 2003Meeting Report

May 2, 2003

Charlie Watters
Transformation in Russia in the Past Ten Years

Charlie Watters is the Principal of the Courtyard School, a secular private school that leases the classrooms of the First Baptist Church. He has led student groups on educational travel tours, some of which were to Russia.

Much of Mr. Watters’ background appeared in the May issue of Human Interest. His talk to HAGSA was concerned primarily with his four trips to Russia. His first trip preceded the fall of communism. He contrasted the centralized order of a society that also lacked easy availability of the most basic consumer goods with the Russia that evolved during the 1990s. On subsequent trips he noticed that consumer goods were more available, but at the same time, the social safety net that had existed was gone. There was a new wealthy class but many were destitute. There was also more crime. He also observed that after 1998, Russia was a better ordered society than in the early 1990s and had the beginnings of a middle class. He said that younger Russians are today much more optimistic about the future than are their parents, who feel that life has passed them by and sometimes yearn for the old days. He cautioned that his observations reflected life in the major cities, which have become quite westernized. They may not be quite so true of the countryside.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, HAGSA Recorder

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