Friendship, science, Russian language ... Inessa Loginova shared the historical years of the first years of the university.
Oddly enough, in my childhood I confidently said that I would ever be neither teacher nor doctor.
I liked Russian classical literature, French and Chemistry at school. I had been sure since the eighth form that I would be enrolled in Moscow State University. I attended special lectures for school students. I was enrolled in university in 1955. I passed all my exams with excellent marks — I prepared, I was eager to enter the university. The new building in Leninskiye Gory (Lenin Hills) just opened at the time, and when we got the exam results we ran to see the building at once.
I had excellent and good marks in my school certificate, it should be mentioned that I had good marks in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Physics. Everybody laughed and said that I deliberately forged the certificate. I had good marks for all engineering disciplines and excellent marks for all humanitarian ones. My love for Chemistry helped me a lot later. When I had students in chemistry at the preparative faculty I had to teach them special terms so I knew some names of substances and I didn’t know others. I just wrote all the reactions on the blackboard and they were surprised that I knew chemistry. So everything turned out in my life in such a way that one thing helped another one.
I was enrolled in the Faculty of Philology at Moscow State University. We had wonderful teachers. All of them are the authors of famous textbooks. And we studied from them, can you imagine?
I graduated from Moscow State University in 1960. It is the year of the RUDN University establishment. Ekaterina Ivanovna Motina was appointed the Head of the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language. She selected teachers, including from graduates.
I remember as if it were now: it was the last day at university, we were awarded diplomas and after that there was a reception in the building in Leninskiye Gory. The members of the Commission came up to the lucky ones and said that they had been selected. We were happy — it was impossible to become a teacher immediately after your graduation. One could work as a philologist only either at school or in a publishing house. We were selected, but provided that we started working the next day without any appointed vacation. Of course, everyone agreed.
We started to work in July. We worked in the Information Department where the correspondence arrived. The University had just opened, the enrollment was in spring, but the correspondence continued to arrive in bags. I really mean bags from around the world! There were letters in foreign languages from people who wanted to study. We had to sort out the correspondence, fill in the forms and answer the letters.
Of course, from all over the world! It was the first university for international students. The university was conceived as a completely new type of university with a great number of international students to study Russian. Only one third of students were Russian speakers. Thus they wanted to spread Russian in the world.
I got to the Department of North Africa, Maghreb countries — Tunisia, Algeria, Libya... The group was headed by young employee of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yuriy Mihailovich Kobishchanov. I remembered him for the rest of my life — it was him who partly determined my fate. He had been to Africa by the time, he told about this completely unique continent. He called for studying Africa, especially its written and oral languages.
Only preparatory faculty worked at the time. It was necessary to teach Russian quickly and intensively. We had no experience. That is why in the first months, Ekaterina Ivanovna invited the best specialists in methodology and theory of Russian for us to study.
Ekaterina Ivanovna made of all the recent students specialists in phonetics. She made phonetics a separate aspect of training — with special teachers, hours, rooms equipped with tape recorders, with a large class with tape recorders for self-study.
I started to learn an African language in one of the first years of working at University. A guy from Cameroon came to Peoples’ Friendship University. He studied for three years at the Preparatory Faculty. He was a capable guy, learned the language and studied all the disciplines quickly. We began to learn his native Bamileke language . It is spoken at the crossroads of the west coast of the Atlantic Ocean and Africa, in this spot. The area turned out to be the least explored and very controversial. We talked in French. The Bamileke language is tonal — each syllable has its own tone. We studied in the following way: we recorded texts on a tape recorder. The Cameroonian knew a lot of tales and legends and told them very well. Then I transcribed them using the international phonetic alphabet. Thus I described the system of vowels, consonants and a part of the tones of this language. The grammar system was studied as follows: I asked him to translate a sentence, for example, «The lion eats meat», then «The lion has eaten meat», «The lion will eat meat» and so on. Soon, I began to just guess — I had a degree in Philology. He was surprised, «Why, do you know our language?» When I told him: «This will be like this, won’t it?», «It will!» he said, very surprised. This was the kind of work we had been doing for several years. And it helped me enroll in the postgraduate programme — I made an essay on the language to be admitted there.
As for my thesis, it turned out to be very interesting. I described the tonal system in the languages of Africa and Southeast Asia. I worked with consultants, recorded them on the tape, made oscillograms, spectrograms, palatograms... I ruined my eyesight when I deciphered these records.
Of course, we did. Well, everything surprised the Africans. One student from Mali said that when he went off the plane he knew only two words — milk and some other word. He knew the word ‘milk’ as condensed milk was sent to Africa. He said that he saw birch trees, fell on his knees, hugged and kissed them. «Even the trees are white in this country!»
We had such a policy that we had to keep in touch with our students, invite them to our anniversaries. We were in correspondence with them. So we were in touch. The most important thing is that every summer Ekaterina Ivanovna Motina — and I recall her again — organized Russian language courses for our graduates. She invited them— and, again free of charge, it was the state and university that paid for them. She invited them to study for a month or a month and a half to revise the material. So we often saw our first students, and they loved us as well.
Teacher of our department Feliks Danilovich Dallada once wrote wonderful lyrics and music for the university anthem. I remember them by heart, and they sound in my heart. I really want this anthem revived. I’d like to finish our conversation with them: "Man, raise the banner of friendship of five continents, the friendship of all students, all peoples and presidents. We will save spring seedlings of this friendship from war. Nations forge peace for centuries, not for years. And let the earth bloom, and let its people know neither need, nor grief, nor hostility. And if you are honest, then you will aim the flight of your dreams against poverty. Learn, student, and don’t lose a moment, a minute is dear to you. The path is difficult, but be more persistent when you go through centuries. "(The first phrase is repeated again).