Welcome to English Language Evenings III


English Language Evenings is an independent, open, public English-language lecture forum in Moscow, having hosted more than 250 meetings and ~200 different speakers since starting in 1998.

Meeting usually twice a month from September/October to late May, ELE hosts (mostly) native English speakers, often prominent and/or interesting individuals from Moscow's greater English-language and/or foreign-resident community, visitors, et al, giving lectures on topics of their own choosing.

Among the PURPOSES of ELE is the providing of an intelligent-intellectual evening in Moscow in English, the presentation of a wide variety of topics and speakers, and the promotion of more personal contacts between the speakers and Russians in Moscow. ELE is, in the context of Moscow, a kind of distant descendent of the Lyceum Movement started in 19th century America, and a direct one of "Penny University" in Santa Cruz, California.

All visitors, Russians and "expats" are welcome!

Notifications on ELE activities


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The Hosts

The hosts of ELE III are Oksana Danchevskaya and Oksana Konstantinova.

Dr. Oksana Danchevskaya, a Cultural Studies specialist, a teacher of English and an Associate Professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University. Some of her presentations including an ELE lecture on North American Indians are available here. Has been an ELE member since 2000 and a co-host since 2017.

Oksana Konstantinova: having worked as a translator and English teacher in secondary and language schools in Russia, she is now settled as an administrative assistant. She enjoys teaching English to her friends and is also an avid traveller to English-speaking countries. She has come to ELE since 2011.

John Harrison has retired as a host of ELE II at the end of the 20th season (2017/2018).

The founder of ELE Stephen Lapeyrouse has moved on to further activities in the USA. Stephen is the author of "Towards the Spiritual Convergence of America and Russia", "В поисках "Американской мечты" - Избранные эссе", and his website can be found at AmericanReflections.net.


ELE has now hosted 300+ meetings with ~230 SPEAKERS from many countries: from astronauts to adventurers, ambassadors and attaches of various embassies; Fulbright scholars; visiting and resident professors; well-known Moscow journalists (from the Moscow Times, Moscow News, Russia Journal, etc.) and international TV and radio correspondents (BBC, VOA, Sky News); social activists; heads of institutions (e.g. AmCham, Moscow Carnegie Center, Amnesty International), and just interesting individuals, et al, on a wide variety of lecture topics. To view a full list of previous speakers/lectures, click here.


Lectures, travelers, writers, adventurers, et al! If you would like to give a public lecture in Moscow, contact the hosts of ELE III. Contact: odanchevskaya@gmail.com


Lectures are held in the Chekhov Library/Cultural Center Strastnoi Bulvar 6 Moscow. Just north of the Metro Chekhovskaya street exit -- somewhat across from the large cinema at Pushkin Square -- look for the "6" on the building; take the door between "Грамотный кофе" ("Literate coffee" cafe) and "Библиотека" ("Library"). Click here for map!

Here you can find a link to Chekhov Library web site, and this is a link to Library page on Facebook


Meetings are usually, but not always, Fridays, so pay close attention to dates! Lectures usually start at 19:00, followed by Q&As, discussion, comments, etc; and ending about 21:00.

A Selection of Publications on ELE activities

English Language Evenings on Wikipedia

David Wansbrough's Pages

The article in Moscow Expat Life magazine 'The Chekhov Library: A Mission of Freedom'

The 21st season, 2018/2019

Previous Lectures

May 31, 7 pm

'In Search of a Richer Life: A Canadian Expat's Tales of Adventure, Confusion, Validating Triumphs, Humbling Defeats (and an Insatiable Desire for More)'

Adrian Niro

Adrian Niro is a Canadian born expat living and working in Moscow. Before coming to Russia he studied at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada earning a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a Specialization in English Literature. He then proceeded to study at the University of Leuven in Belgium, earning a Master of Arts and Humanities in Critical Theory and a Master of Science in Social and Cultural Anthropology. He taught at the International Language Academy of Canada in Toronto before embarking on a new adventure: Russia!

With nearly 15 years of experience in the performing arts, spanning two continents, it was only in Russia where he began to receive some recognition: two guest lectures at Moscow State University, two appearances on Russian television, voice acting and radio appearances. He has been releasing video blogs about his time in Russia since 2016 and is a regular performer at Moscow's various Standup Comedy venues. In 2018 his humorous anecdotes about life in Russia were presented on a tour through his native Canada, Finland, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands (the latter satirically titled: "Famous in Russia").

This is going to be the final lecture of the 21st season! Then we're going on holidays till September.

May 24, 7 pm

'Gone with the Wind'

David Goldfield

The American South has always been different – slavery, secession, poverty, rural, and segregated – seemingly the reverse of American ideals. As novelist William Faulkner noted, in the South, the past is not even past, as the recent conflict over Confederate monuments attests. Why is this so? How have other regions in the U.S. contributed to the Southern mixture of myth and history? And what does its persistence say about the nation?

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, a position he has held since 1982. A native of Memphis, he grew up in Brooklyn and attended the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of sixteen books including two, "Cotton Fields and Skyscrapers" (1982) and "Black, White, and Southern" (1991), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in history. His most recently published books are "America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation" (2011), "Still Fighting the Civil War" (2013), and "The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good" (2017). Goldfield is also the Editor of the Journal of Urban History, and serves as Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, as and as an expert witness in voting rights and capital punishment cases. He is Past President of the Southern Historical Association (2012-2013). Goldfield serves on the Advisory Board of the human rights organization, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and on the Board of the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center. His hobbies include reading southern novels, watching baseball, and listening to the music of Gustav Mahler and Buddy Holly.

May 17, 7 pm

'An Englishman's Guide to Visiting (Real) England'

Andrew Rayton

"Whenever I ask Russian people "have you ever visited England?", the usual answer is either "yes" or "no... but I would like to". My usual follow-up question is "Oh really, where did you go or where would you like to go?", to which 90% of people answer London. Another 9% mention Cambridge or Oxford, and the remaining 1% are usually a bit more adventurous and have been as far as Bath or even Stonehenge. But I say to all of those people, "You have not really experienced England..." If you really want to experience England, then you need to go off the foreign tourist trail and go to where the English go on their holidays. There are many many interesting and beautiful places to visit in England that are not crowded with American, Chinese or even Russian tourists. Allow me to take you on a journey to the places I have visited in my life, places that you might not find in most tourist guides and on "top place to visit" websites. Places steeped in history and beauty and which I thoroughly recommend you visit, should you get the chance. Then and only then can you truly say that you have been to England."

Andrew Rayton was born in Coventry in the United Kingdom. He attended Warwick and Manchester universities, where he graduated in business and economics and gained a post-graduate certificate in education. He has served his country in both the Royal Navy and as a police constable in Nottingham City, he is a patriotic and loyal British subject. He worked as a teacher in English secondary schools before moving to Moscow, Russia in 2015 to teach English to adults and teenagers.

April 26, 7 pm

'Economic Development and Interesting Facts about India. Friendly Indo-Russian Connections'

Leena Sareen

India is the country of the largest democracy and the fastest developing country in the world with a seamless picture of unity in diversity and more than a hundred languages, different religions and about two million gods, great-grandmother of tradition, 5000 years old Vedas, yoga, and Ayurveda...

Relations between India and Russia are rooted in history which was recorded since the 15th c. when the first Russian merchant Afanasy Nikitin visited India, followed by famous Russian artists like Vasily Vereshchagin in the 19th c. and Nicholas Roerich in the 20th c. Rabindranath Tagore’s "Geetanjali" was like a revelation in the USSR and, in its turn, Russian culture left a deep imprint on Tagore. Russia has been a pillar of strength for India, having co-operation in various sectors like space, defence, economics, etc. Both countries have 70 years of diplomatic relations.

Dr. Leena Sareen teaches Theory of Intercultural Communication at the Department of Psychology of Moscow Region State University. Leena has 10 years of experience in multinational companies as a coordinator between Russia and India. She has received awards from both countries for her merits in strengthening Russian-Indian cultural cooperation.

April 12, 7 pm

'The Birds and the Bees'

David Wansbrough

“We use the word "Honey" as a term of affection. Summer days at the dacha are full of the warm whirring of wings as bees are busy going from flower to flower. In New Zealand the tui bird's curved beak reaches the nectar from among the masses of stamens in Rata flowers. The neck of the bird has two tufts of white feathers that are covered with pollen. How could the bird or the tree have evolved without each other? Can bees be studied in Isolation? Bees are wonderful and essential. David Wansbrough, a past student in beekeeping of James Freeman and Sir Edmund Hillary, was the recipient of the 2013 World Eco Brand Person of the Year Award. From his observations he has developed a simple but strange theory about the nature of bee keeping that may explain the death of hives. As bee keepers say, if you can't bee good, bee careful...”

David Wansbrough, an Australian poet, writer, artist and philosopher, is one of ELE's most loved speakers.

March 29, 7 pm

'The Soundtrack of the 20th Century: Part One - The Blues'

Peter Beck

The tale of a musical form that was born in the American south, migrated north to Chicago, crossed the Atlantic, and then was transformed and exported around the world.

Born in England and educated in Canada, Peter Beck is a teacher and journalist on Arts and Culture who currently lives in Moscow.

"There is no way to tell this story in any depth in an hour, of course, so I'll stick to the anecdotes and highlights that I think will be most entertaining."

March 15, 7 pm

'The Importance of Living with the Dead'

Colin Ward

Colin discusses through a mixture of poetry and reflection the importance of the relationship between those who die ‘too early’ and the living. Both before and especially after death. It is a subject which is too often not discussed, but it can be liberating and also helpful when people do indeed open up to their feelings. He will share his experience of how poetry can be of assistance to those struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved one or someone close to them, particularly when the death is seen as not a ‘natural’ end to life.

Colin Ward is a British owner of a small Russian business in Moscow.

Attention! On March 15, 2019 ELE lecture will take place NOT in the Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library Reading room on the 2nd floor (from the main entrance back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door with the sign "Библиотека имени А. П. Чехова 2 этаж", go upstairs to the second floor).

March 1, 7 pm

'Artificial Intelligence?'

James Newton

In 1946, ENIAC, the first digital computer, cost the equivalent of $6M in today's money and could run 50,000 operations per second. It was used to solve the equations that led to the design of nuclear power stations. The smartphone almost all of us carry today costs less than $600 dollars, runs over 5 billion operations per second, and connects us instantly to computers all over the world. Using models of how the brain works, we are developing software that can play games, recognize faces, read handwriting, drive cars, and even distinguish between different breeds of dogs.

With all this computing power available to us now, can we hope that computers will think like humans in the near future? And what can we learn from computers about what it means to be human?

As you may have noticed, James Newton has been to every ELE meeting since last September. He wanted to be a poet or a watchmaker when he was younger, and then learnt that he could do both by writing elegant lines of computer code that work together in intricate ways. Here in Moscow, he earns all he needs through talking in English to 4-year-old children and to executives from multinational companies, so that he can have enough time to work on his second book, entitled "Vampires with Alzheimer's".

February 15, 7 pm


We’re very sorry to inform you that our next planned lecture for February 15 had to be cancelled due to the problems with the library - as it turned out, despite our prior agreement, all their halls will be occupied that day… So, enjoy your Friday evening and see you at our next lecture which will take place on March 1 and will be announced later.

February 1, 7 pm

'Oops! - What am I doing in front of the camera…'

Michael Gibson

"Working in Advertising and making TV commercials has seen me cast many actors over the years. Then one fateful day, while filming a Nescafe commercial, Timour Bekhmanbetouv (before he was famous) ran out of cast and the next thing I knew I was on the wrong side of the camera, blinded by lights, being shouted at by Timour, 'hold the cup higher, no lower, no higher, smile a bit, now a bit less …' This was novel, receiving instructions as opposed to giving them. Over the years I have casually ended up in a few productions, from secret agents to idiot 80s Music producer (a guy who turned down a Nirvana deal), I've even been in a sex scene (we are still good friends) … So, in this ELE talk I will share a few anecdotes about acting, the secrets to casting and why chemistry is everything."

Mike is one of our most popular speakers with several very interesting talks in the previous years. He is an Executive Creative Director in Advertising and a Creative Consultant.

Attention! On February 1, 2019 ELE lecture will take place NOT in the Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library Reading room on the 2nd floor (from the main entrance back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door with the sign "Библиотека имени А. П. Чехова 2 этаж", go upstairs to the second floor).

January 18, 7 pm

'The Cultural Revolution'

John Harrison

'Like the red sun rising in the east, the unprecedented Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is illuminating the land with its brilliant rays,' one editorial in a Chinese newspaper read in 1966. read. 52 years ago, one of the bloodiest eras in Chinese modern history began, in which as many as two million people died. Its bewildering complexity and almost unfathomable brutality was such that to this day historians struggle to make sense of everything that occurred during the period.
When the mass mobilisation kicked off, Party newspapers depicted it as an epochal struggle that would inject new life into the communist cause. In fact, the Cultural Revolution crippled the economy, ruined millions of lives and thrust China into 10 years of turmoil, bloodshed, hunger and stagnation.
Who started it and what was it for? This lecture will focus on the Cultural Revolution and try to answer these questions. At the end of the lecture, there will be a short presentation of the book 'Trapped Between Cultures' which is partly about the effects of the Cultural Revolution on the mind sets of Chinese growing up in the 1950s-70s.

The speaker is our dear former host (ELE-II) John Harrison, a journalist, writer and an artist

December 21, 7 pm

'12 London Surprises'

Charles Goddard

In honour of the 12 days of Christmas, an exploration of 12 less well known things to see and do the next time you are in London. These include where to find a real Diagon Alley (useful for Harry Potter fans) and where you can find a Russian poetess beneath your feet.

Born in the UK, Charles Goddard is both a Chartered Architect and a Chartered Arbitrator with a specialisation in commercial and construction law. He first came to Russia in 2002 when he helped deliver new offices and housing for Exxon Mobil on Sakhalin Island. Since then, his building projects have included FC Shakhtar Donetsk, masterplanning the building and infrastructure works for the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Sochi Olympics Large Ice Palace as well as numerous commercial projects.
A true “Englishman In Moscow”, Charles thinks he begins to understand some Russian humour and culture, the symbiosis between fools and roads, and finds New Year incomplete without "Ирония Судьбы". He is proud to have learnt to drink tea without taking the teaspoon out of the glass.

December 7, 7 pm

'Back to Earth'

Frank Williams

Frank Williams has been a professional artist since the late 1960's. In his lecture he will discuss his life as an American Cold War survivor, anti-war proponent/activist and political junky in the pursuit of international understanding. He has worked and exhibited globally and for the last 26 years while residing in Moscow. He will touch on topics in his career as a curator, organizer, teacher, artist diplomat and a plethora of pursuits melded to form his person and his artistic expressions.
His lecture, titled "BACK TO EARTH" emphasizes his use of re-cycled materials, i.e. found objects. Currently Williams' emphasis is on the necessity to create less from newly produced elements and concentrate on statements involving components brought back to relevance by inclusion in his compositions.

A list of exhibitions and credits can be found at: www.frankwilliams.ru/eng/biography.htm

November 30, 7 pm

'Why Russia?'

Andrej Starčević and Louis-Charles Beyeler

"Why Russia?" is a familiar question that foreigners are greeted with in Russia. Moving to Russia invariably demands a certain degree of self-exile: a willingness to break with the past and a desire to uncover not only a world unknown but also something about the self. It paradoxically opens a myriad of challenges and surprises, but is also a seemingly futile, never-ending pursuit. Any attempt to answer the notorious "Why Russia?" question necessarily requires an appreciation of this starting point. In our lecture we will be sharing some of our experiences in Russia and of our attempt to understand the incomprehensible.
Andrej Starčević is a Master's student studying Global Politics at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. The son of Serbian immigrants to Australia, he completed his Bachelor's in History from the University of Sydney. He moved to Russia where he has been teaching English and studying since 2016.
Louis-Charles Beyeler is a Frenchman and Master's student studying Diplomacy at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He completed his Bachelor's in International Relations from ICES in France before moving to Russia in 2017 to continue his studies.

November 16, 7 pm

'You've got to be kidding: How one expat navigates the unfamiliar terrain of Russia (with astonishing ineptitude)'

Johanna Campbell

A professional expat educator now living and working in Moscow shares her stories of impressive feats of ineptitude at this whole life-in-Russia thing. She wishes to apologize for her monolingualism, but were she sufficiently adept in this way, this lecture's audience would be deprived of her stories, as she would not have any.

Johanna Campbell is an English language teacher, trainer and curriculum developer with extensive field experience across the US and overseas. Her expertise includes teaching intensive academic English with top-tier American universities (7 years), language program instruction and administration in US-based colleges in the Middle East (2 years), training, tutoring, writing center coaching, and presenting at myriad professional engagements (14 years). She has spoken on such varied topics as cultural influence on English teaching and learning, civic resource use to generate language production, and student learning beyond the classroom. Her research interests include how culture shapes language, learner-centered oral fluency skills, and sociolinguistics.
She has traveled, lived and taught in the central and southern United States, across Western Europe, and in the Gulf region. She holds an MA in Applied English Linguistics from the University of Houston and a BA in Politics and Government with a Spanish minor. Currently, she is serving as an English Language Fellow in Moscow, Russia.

November 2, 7 pm

'Fake News - a historical perspective'

Dr. Christopher Korten

Fake news is in our midst and often mentioned, especially in the political sphere. However, it is not an unusual phenomenon, nor strictly the provenance of politics. Deliberately misleading an adversary, a competitor or the reading 'public' is nothing new. This short lecture will discuss noteworthy examples over the last millennium in order to gain perspective about the 'popularity' of Fake news today.

Chris has recently taken up the position of Professor at MGIMO in the faculty of International Relations; he also holds a position at UAM in Poznan, Poland. He is currently researching an aspect of diplomatic history under Tsar Nicholas I.

October 19, 7 pm

'A New Zealand Childhood'

David Wansbrough

David Wansbrough will speak about New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s. In Auckland at the time the social structure was affected by the loss of the men in World War Two, and yet remarkable individuals influenced his life. Sir Edmund Hillary taught him bee keeping, and Miss Winifred Huggins planted the seedlings of New Zealand native trees on waste land. But the volcanic islands were small and seemed to be at the edge of the world. In Darby Lane David discovered a Soviet book shop. From Progressive Books for mere pennies he bought beautiful Russian children's books, 'Vasilisa the Beautiful', 'Finist the Bright Falcon', 'The Tsarevitch, the Bird of Light, the Grey Wolf', and 'The Lay of Igor'. The beauty of the illustrations and the poetry of 'The Old Fisherman and the Golden Fish', changed his life...

October 5, 7 pm

'The Other America. Downshifters, eco-culturists and escapists'
A personal story of volunteering for an eco- (ex-hippie) community

Lyubov Zolotova

We are happy to invite you to a very special talk about America and Americans.
For many people around the world America embodies prosperity, progress, and freedom. However, there are people in the States who are seriously concerned about the state of the American society: its overconsumption, the power of corporations, the ecological risks of postindustrial economy. These Americans have made a conscious (and very difficult) choice to live a different life.
Our guest, Lyubov Zolotova, a Russian-American living in Moscow, will share her experience of living among such people, talk about their life philosophy, their values, and the challenges of their lifestyle. Lyubov spent a month living in Shannon Farm community, VA. She stayed with the family of Virginia Dawnswir, a typical representative of American downshifters and eco-culturists. This will be a very honest story. This is no Hollywood America but a different side of American life.
You will find out:

• Who can afford to become a downshifter in America
• How capitalism and socialism coexist in this local community
• How Americans try to stand up against corporate power and what comes out of it
• What is wrong with “organic” products and what “beyond organic” means

… and much more!

September 21, 7 pm

'Close Encounters of the Cross-Cultural Kind'

Paul Anthony Byrne

Paul will give a brief account of his travels wherein he recounts several accounts of misunderstandings and preconceived beliefs that occurred in Western Europe and Russia.
An open discussion with the theme 'Does Elimination of Cross Cultural barriers promote peace in our world?'

Paul Anthony Byrne about himself:
Born in Ireland in 1954 and educated in Dublin's DIT and later East London University in 1992 with a MSc. In Post graduate Diploma in Management Studies.
Have managed and opened businesses in Ireland, United Kingdom and France in my past; prior to working with the Educational sector as a consultant in Russia from 2005 to 2015.
I have been actively involved in the past to promoting Irish/Russian links in History Music and Folk dance.
I have come back to Russia since 2015 and intend to work on my writing projects and other possible realisations of aspirations.
I am married (separated) with a 22-year-old daughter, two cats and a dog.

The 20th season, 2017/2018

May 11, 7 pm

'A Short History of Russian Advertising'

Mike Gibson

Michael has worked as a Creative Director in the Russian advertising and communication industry for over 20 years. He created many big TV campaigns for brands like Nescafe, Visa, MrProper. He is a regular speaker on branding and creativity. He is married to Naira and has one son Davide.

April 27, 7 pm

'The Aesthetic Experience'

David Wansbrough

Are the silly vulgar sparkling lights around Moscow meant to distract us from real experiences?
What is essential to life?
Since ancient times some have written about Goodness, Truth and Beauty, but how do we discern these when we are caught up in the banality of travelling to and from work in the metro? Are these relevant in a digital age? (Click, Like).
How can we get beyond egotism and solipsism, to experience the reality of others?
David Wansbrough, ELE's most frequent speaker, will attempt to show that in spite of changes of awareness, there are deep and enduring perceptions that may shake us out of our habitual paradigms. Let us risk the vulnerability of Love and Tragedy and feel the symptoms of heightened awareness, and sense the Russian need for cultural nurture, well beyond the Western notion of, 'Have a nice day.'

On April 27, 2018 ELE lecture will take place in the main hall of Chekhov cultural center as usual. Here are direction photos

April 13, 7 pm

'Brexit - different perceptions from a divided country!'

Luke Conner

Brexit has been the most divisive political and constitutional matter in the U.K. for generations, splitting public opinion right down the middle like nothing since the Abdication Crisis. This lecture will look at the background to Brexit, what has happened, what we anticipate will happen, the different arguments for and against Brexit, and the various categories of British voters and the factors that shape their opinion.

All are welcome - 'Leavers' and 'Remainers' as well as those not sure what this is all about!

A graduate of the University of Manchester and Nottingham Law School, Luke Conner trained in the City of London. He first came to Moscow in 2004 for a six-month secondment. Following qualification as a solicitor, Luke then returned to London to work on banking and finance transactions and M&A to develop his skill set, before moving back to Moscow in January 2008, where he has remained ever since.
In January 2017, Luke became the President of the British Business Club in Russia, an organisation that promotes cooperation between Russian and British businesses and supports business people living and working in Russia, having an interest in trade and business development in and with the United Kingdom.

Attention! On April 13, 2018 ELE lecture will take place NOT in the main hall of Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library Reading room on the 2nd floor (back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door, go upstairs to the second floor).

Due to circumstances beyond our control, ELE on 30.3.18 is cancelled.

March 30, 7 pm

'The Space Shuttle'

Kevin Mellet

We welcome Kevin back to ELE on March 30th to talk about ground processing and launch of the American Space Shuttle, and a brief comparison between the Space Shuttle and the Soviet Union's Buran vehicle.

Kevin entered the US Air Force after graduating College in 1982, worked on Space Launch Systems in California. He joined NASA at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 1990, worked on Space Shuttle and International Space Station. He moved to Moscow in 2015.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, ELE on 30.3.18 is cancelled.

March 16, 7 pm

'Headmasters have no friends: Cause or Effect?'
Reflections on four decades at the chalkface.

Ross Hunter

Thoughts about 1. Education, 2. Management and 3 the (mis)use of the English language. Lots of true anecdotes, and maybe antidotes.

March 2, 7 pm

'The Role of an American Citizen Services Officer - You Can't Make this Stuff UP!'

Richard Hanrahan

"...I will discuss the role and responsibilities of the American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and how the Embassy assists U.S. citizens in Russia. I will also talk a little about my career with the U.S. Department of State."

Richard Hanrahan joined the U.S. Department of State in November of 2002. His first assignment was in New Delhi, India, where he was a Line Officer in the Immigrant Visa Unit, the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit, and the American Citizen Services Unit. Richard then served in Kyiv, Ukraine in the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit and in the Political Section. He has also served overseas in Baghdad, Nicosia, and Calgary. Richard served domestically in the Office of International Health and Biodefense.

Richard has been assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow since July of 2016 and heads the American Citizen Services unit.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service Richard worked as a Biostatistician at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, Illinois. He is a graduate of the Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.

February 9, 7 pm

'American Indians after Columbus'

Dr Oksana Danchevskaya

The lecture will give a short account of the most important events of American Indian history and American-Indian relations, and an overview of the major aspects of Native American cultures and religion. You will also hear the true stories of some of the long-ago romanticised American Indian figures and learn about the present-day life of the native population of North America - which, in most cases, differs from common stereotypes.

Dr. Oksana Danchevskaya, an Associate Professor of Moscow State Pedagogical University, specialises in American Indian Studies, Cultural Studies and Cross-Cultural Communication. She is the author of several books including 'American Indians in the U.S. Socio-Cultural Policies in the Late XXth - Early XXIst Centuries' and 'Native American Mythology in Modern American Literature', university courses along with 'History and Culture of North American Indians' and more.

Attention! This ELE lecture will take place NOT in the main hall of Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library reading room on the 2nd floor (back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door, go upstairs to the second floor).

January 26, 7 pm

'How to Be a Coffee Aficionado'

Daniel Brooks

This lecture will be about where coffee comes from, the differences between the kinds of coffee grown in various regions around the world, how coffee is roasted and ways to prepare coffee at home. Overall coffee consumption trends will also be described briefly. The outcome will be hopefully to show the audience how to become coffee aficionados.

Daniel Brooks has been in the coffee business since 1995. He was General Manager for Tchibo GmbH starting in 1995 and was also CEO with Tata Global Beverages. In addition, he held general manager roles with Supervalu and Nabisco and has done business in the CIS, Europe, US, Asia and Latin America.

Attention! This ELE lecture will take place NOT in the main hall of Chekhov cultural center as usual but in the Chekhov's library reading room on the 2nd floor (back to metro "Chekhovskaya", go under the arch and through the tunnel to the yard, pass Chekhov cultural center, go on ~20 meters, enter the brown metal door, go upstairs to the second floor).

January 12, 7 pm

"The Art of Revolution" - the creative contribution to Russia's improbable eruptions 1905-30.

Ross Hunter

Earlier ELE presentations have shown how revolutions can only happen when many well known necessary preconditions are in place. This presentation hypothesises that the events of the revolutionary period were both aided and made possible by insurgent and iconoclastic innovations in all the arts. Russia rushed from generally follower to astonishing leader - avant garde - in fine art, theatre, ballet, music and literature between (about) 1880 and (precisely) 1932.
This is an unproven theory, and is presented to ELE for your critical analysis.

Ross Hunter
Experienced schoolmaster. Serially failed retiree. A dozen years in Moscow on and off. Now helping to set up ESS Lefortovo, a new bilingual school. Amateur (art) historian; recreational cyclist, French wine/goats' cheese taster, magazine feature writer.

December 22, 7 pm

'20 years of financial education and financial experience: what's a Canadian CFA doing in Moscow?'

PLUS ELE's 20th Anniversary Party

Neil Withers

Neil Withers CFA is a Canadian who was sent here for a three year banking project in 1997 - and after the financial crisis in '98 decided it was much more interesting to stay. Toronto is very nice, but a bit boring; most of the big decisions have already been made there. Neil is also President of the CFA Association Russia, part of a global professional organization whose mission is to improve financial markets for the benefit of investors and society.

Neil will give a perspective (from a Canadian point of view) of what financial professional education is and how financial culture and capital markets have changed and are developing in Moscow.

After the lecture, ELE will be celebrating not only the fact that it still exists, Christmas and the New Year, but also the club's 20th Anniversary! You are very welcome to attend and bring your friends, but we ask if you come, can you can kindly contribute to the evening's proceedings by bringing a bottle of wine (better two) and some food (home cooked if possible). Moscow may never be the same!

December 15, 7 pm

'Legacy of Revolutions'

Doran Doeh

This wide ranging lecture will take a comparative look at the English, American, French and Russian revolutions, as we are now in the centenary year following the Russian revolution.

Doran was educated in London and Oxford, and advises on virtually all areas of law relating to energy and natural resources including a very wide range of corporate and financing transactions.

December 8, 7 pm

'The International Space Station (ISS)'

Kevin Mellett

Fifteen different countries are represented in ISS Program. Its greatest accomplishment is as much a human achievement as it is a technological one - how best to plan, coordinate, and monitor the varied activities of the Program's many organizations.

Construction, assembly and operation of the International Space Station requires the support of facilities on the Earth managed by all of the international partner agencies and countries involved in the program. The ISS Program brings together international flight crews, multiple launch vehicles, globally distributed launch, operations, training, engineering, and development facilities; communications networks, and the international scientific research community.

Kevin entered the US Air Force after graduating College in 1982, worked on Space Launch Systems in California. He joined NASA at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 1990, worked on Space Shuttle and International Space Station. He moved to Moscow in 2015.

December 1, 7 pm

'Global Health Challenges in the 21st Century.'

Nina Murray

Nina Murray will talk about global health challenges broadly, and how global health trends may affect individuals.

Nina Murray is responsible for supporting U.S.-Russia cooperation in public health and medical research. Prior to serving in Moscow, she worked in Toronto, Canada, and Vilnius, Lithuania. Before joining the diplomatic services, she worked as a grant writer for the Core for Applied Genomic and Ecology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In this capacity, she helped secure more than one million dollars in NIH and USDA research funding for the Core's research projects. She is also a literary translator from the Russian and Ukrainian languages, and a poet.

November 17, 7 pm


John Rosser

This lively talk will centre around the newly branded term 'Impact Investing' and how (on a global basis) Impact Investing will be transforming societies, economies & businesses whilst possibly also solving some of the most deep-seated social and environmental challenges of our time, including climate change. John will be leading an interactive discussion of how Russia will be participating within the global community in this regard, and what this directly means for all of us.

John Rosser is one of the world's leading authorities on impact and sustainability investment issues, including smart cities, climate change and sea level rise. He has spoken at several leading conferences around the world during the past decade, including alongside former president Bill Clinton and, separately, on request of the government of Chile.

November 3, 7 pm


David Morley

David, who is a true Yorkshire man will be telling all about Britain's largest county.

All are welcome (even if you are from Lancashire).

October 20, 7 pm


Mike Gibson

What do you do when your oldest friend rings and says, 'I have 70,000 bottles of Lemonade in my basement - Help!'. The answer is invest. Joris had for many years fantasized about making Lemonade, but like most fantasies, Mike never expected it to actually happen. What ensued was a Lemonade journey of fizzy discovery, as Joris with help from Mike, and neither with any experience in the soda business created the WOSTOK brand, based on Soviet iconography. Next year they aim to sell 5 million bottles in 19 countries. As for that first 70,000 bottle - they were delivered by students using skate boards to every local bar, cafe and restaurant. That was Kreuzberg, Berlin, 2009. Since then Wostok has gone a long way, and what a ride it's been.

Michael has worked as a Creative Director in the Russian advertising and communication industry for over 20 years. He created many big TV campaigns for brands like Nescafe, Visa, MrProper. He is a regular speaker on branding and creativity. He is married to Naira and has one son Davide.

October 6, 7 pm

'The Life of a Foreign Correspondent in Russia and Current US-Russia Relations'

Fred Weir

Fred Weir is a Canadian journalist who lives in Moscow and specializes in Russian affairs. He is a Moscow correspondent for the Boston-based daily The Christian Science Monitor, and for the monthly Chicago magazine In These Times. He has been a regular contributor from Moscow to The Independent, South China Morning Post and The Canadian Press. He was also for 20 years the Moscow correspondent of Hindustan Times an Indian, English-language, daily newspaper based in Delhi. Weir is the co-author, along with David Michael Kotz, of Revolution from Above: The Demise of the Soviet System, published in 1996, which provides a new interpretation and research for the disintegration of the USSR.

Weir studied Russian and Soviet history at the University of Toronto. He lived on a kibbutz in Israel in 1973-74, traveled extensively around the Middle East, the USSR and Eastern Europe, before choosing to move to the Soviet Union to live and work as a journalist in 1986. He married Mariam Shaumian, a Russian-Armenian, in 1987. They have two children: Tanya, born in 1988, and Charlie, born in 2000.

September 22, 7 pm

'Legal and Business English'

Luke Conner

This lecture will provide a brief guide to the English language within the context of English legal history, the legal system in England and Wales, and the U.K. constitution. It also includes some pointers for future legal draftsmen and those working with legal letters and contracts in the English language.

Luke Conner, an English qualified solicitor and runs his own law firm here: Conner & Co.

September 8, 19:00-21:00

'Why Am I In Russia'

Simon Green

Executive English teacher Simon Green will be talking about why he chose to live in Moscow rather than London, and what are the advantages here compared to living and working in his native country. What does he miss about good old "Blighty?"

Simon has lived in Moscow for over 15 years and has been an English teacher for 8 of them. He was educated in one of the finest private schools in the UK and was also a chorister in Canterbury cathedral. He is widely travelled, having visited some 74 counties and lived in around 20. His hobbies include music (I played the piano and flute), sport, writing, cooking (I cook at dinner parties, specializing in Indian cuisine) and wining and dining.

The 19th season, 2016/2017

May 19, 7 pm

'The History of the International Oil Industry'

Doran Doeh

Doran was educated in London and Oxford, and advises on virtually all areas of law relating to energy and natural resources including a very wide range of corporate and financing transactions.

May 5, 7 pm

'It takes a fool to praise Fools and Folly, but... '

David Wansbrough

The role of idiots, the naive, and the innocent, and their humour in changing how we see reality.

April 21, 7 pm

'The Big Questions'

David Wansbrough

Please note! This lecture will be held in the Chekhov Library Reading Room the door for which is ~20 metres further into the yard from Chekhov Cultural Centre where we usually meet. The entrance will be sign posted clearly from 6.30 pm that evening.

April 7, 7 pm

'The Last of the Mohicans Is Still Alive'

Andrew Wiget

From time to time, television presents us with stories and images of American Indians and other indigenous peoples. How should we think about such stories? What does it means for us as contemporary Euroamericans that indigenous peoples continue to exist in our societies? The presentation will compare the histories and present status of American Indians and Siberian indigenous peoples. Along the way, the presentation will take up the ways in which indigenous peoples have shaped our most fundamental concepts, like culture, nature, society, tradition, ethnicity, modernity and progress.

Andrew Wiget is Professor Emeritus from New Mexico State University, where he taught for 28 years. For most of that time he worked as a folklorist among American Indian tribes. In 1992, he began working with his wife and colleague, Olga Balalaeva, among the indigenous Khanty people of western Siberia, a work that continues up to the present. For the past several years, he has lectured at the Ethnology Chair of the History Faculty at Moscow State University.

March 31, 7 pm

Yablochkova str, 12-C, Saint-Petersburg,
Sportivnaya metro station, Unix Education Center

'The Effect of Russian Culture on Foreigners Living in Russia'

John Harrison

March 24, 7 pm

'Learning To Fly In Russia'

Michael Gibson

Learning to fly has been a dream ever since I was a teenager. On waking up one morning to discover my teenage son flying in Air Force trainers, I realised it was now or never. 'Now' meant learning in Russia, a country with a bright and illustrious aviation history as well as some of the world's most legendary aircraft. It also meant learning to fly the Russian way in specific Russian flying conditions that arguably make Russian pilots the best in the world. I will take you on a flying journey and show how flying is nothing short of a miracle - a miracle that 3 billion people who fly annually, take for granted.

Michael has worked as a Creative Director in the Russian advertising and communication industry for over 20 years. He created many large scale TV campaigns for brands like Nescafe, Visa, MrProper. He is a regular speaker on branding and creativity. He is married to Naira and has one son Davide.

March 10, 7 pm

'Buddhist statues and architecture, and what they mean.'

Ross Hunter

Ross was the Founding Head, EIS Moscow, Malvern College Qingdao, China. Retired several times; now Founding Development Director 'The English School of Sciences', Lefortovo, Moscow. He describes himself as an addicted traveller, and has visited over 50 countries. Married to Sue (Art and PE teacher, Boarding House Mum, artist, Churchwarden), children working in Nice and London. His interests: Travel, Art History, especially Russian 1880-1932; Buddhist art and iconography; cycling & swimming; restoring old houses; chainsaw gardening; books - reading, writing, colouring in. He holds an MA (Cambridge) in Geography.

Lecture by Omar Saif Ghobash, the UAE Ambassador to the Russian Federation, was postponed to a later date!

February 24, 7 pm

'Mithra-The Saviour. The Succession of the Sacred Saviours throughout Human History.'

Bashir Arshadi

February 10, 7 pm

'Sailing Through Russia'

Maxine Maters and John Vallentine

This lecture is the story of how Maxine and skipper John sailed through Russia from the Arctic to the Black Sea, in the first foreign-flagged vessel to traverse Russia's Volga and Don rivers. For more info visit the website sailinginrussia.org
Maxine Maters is an ex-publisher of The Moscow Times.

January 27, 7 pm

'East vs. West from point of view of a long term British expat'

This lecture will be delivered by Luc Jones, a successful British expat, who is the author of the popular book: 'Why Russians Don't Smile.'

January 13, 7 pm

'Human Spaceflight: Should we leave earth?'

Professor Rupert Gerzer

Professor Gerzer is one Germany's eminent scientists and has moved to Moscow about a year ago. He is currently the Provost (Prorector) of Skoltech, a new University at the Skolkovo Innovation Center.

Professor Gerzer was the Director of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Professor and Chairman of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Aachen, Germany, from 1992 until 2015.

December 16, 7 pm

Green Building (r)evolution in Russia - An Englishman's contribution to a greener Russia

Guy Eames, General Director of Green Building Council Russia

December 9, 7 pm

'Stand Up and Boast'

David Lowder is the headmaster of the 'English International School' in Moscow.

Stand up and Boast is about self-confidence, self-esteem and how we as individuals tend to be very modest and shy and don't overly promote ourselves when we should. So how can we change this approach? Can we project our skills to other people without being perceived as being arrogant? How do we identify what skills we have?

November 25, 7 pm

'Habsburg Lessons for Europe'

His Excellency, the Ambassador of Austria, Dr Brix

Apart from his outstanding diplomatic career, Dr Brix has a doctorship in European politics of the 19th and early 20th century, with a particular interest in the decline of empires in Europe.

November 11, 7 pm

The impact of culture on geopolitics.

John Harrison, M.A., Msc.

This lecture will aim to identify the importance of culture in geopolitics. Such a discussion is not new. Thucydides wrote about: 'modes of life,' Mamdani discussed: 'Culture Talk'. With the rise of modern day 'security theory' however, culture has not, (it is argued) been given appropriate attention. The Copenhagen School identified the 'societal' as being as important as other aspects of security, and discussed 'securitisation' through the speech act, which, as will be pointed out in the lecture, is only possible with the support of localised culture. As a case study, John Harrison researched the change in political orientation of western expatriates living in Moscow over time.

October 28, 7 pm

"Recurring themes on contemporary Surrealism"

Lucio Giuliodori, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Aesthetics, Moscow State Pedagogical University, Faculty of Arts

The lecture aims to explore some of the main concepts exposed by surrealist painters. Being the only Avantgarde still alive, Surrealism is nowadays a very eclectic and active movement which still hasn't found what is (was) looking for: the unconscious. This perennial search is what makes it deeply interesting, philosophically and socially. The lecture will then go through the essential entanglement between psychoanalysis and art featuring the ontological matrix of this kind of art: an ineluctable thirst of inner knowledge.

October 14, 7 pm

'The Getting of Wisdom'

David Wansbrough

September 30, 7 pm

'The Art Of Stand Up Comedy'

Steven Foreman

Steven Foreman came to Russia 7 years ago. One of his main activities here is hosting the Moscow Comedy Bar once a week on the Arbat. He, and Russian guest comedians he introduces do Stand Up Comedy routines, a fairly new genre in Russia, in English.

How is Brit humour accepted here? How does Russian humour work from the point of view of a foreigner? What is the difference between British humour and Russian humour? Is humour as important or less important here? How do you make Russians laugh? How do you survive on a stage with hard eyes demanding a laugh? These are all themes that Steven will hopefully talk about on the 30th.

September 16, 7 pm

'To Animals, We Are The Devil Incarnate'

James Hogan

James Hogan, a London-based animal welfare campaigner, will lecture on what William Ralph Inge might say about our treatment of animals in the 21st century if he were able to come back today and review how animals are faring in the world now, nearly 100 years since Dean Inge first spoke those words in 1920.

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