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“I have simply fallen in love with Russian language!”

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“I have simply fallen in love with Russian language!”


Svetlana Smetanina

Kevin De Ridder is a recent student and now is a state worker from Belgium, who learned Russian language by his own. He took part in the Leaders of Russia contest. He told the Russkiy Mir about his love for Russian language and plans to open youth branch of the Russian Geographical Society in Belgium.

Kevin De Ridder

- Not so long ago you've become a winner of the Russian language olympiad. How did you become interested in learning Russian language?

- I've heard this amazing language for the first time 5-6 years ago in France. Something clicked inside me, and I've started taking private Russian lessons. I didn't knew much about Russia at the time. Afterwards, I've received my bachelor's degree in Russian-English translation. Many peers dropped out the study but not me! I have simply fell in love with this amazing language!

- What was the most challenging in learning Russian?

Imperfect and perfect forms (of verbs). I'm still in doubt!

- You have already been in Russia. What have you already seen, and what impressions do you have so far?

- I always tell myself that every time I go there, I want to remain longer and longer. As of now, I've visited Russia four times. I've been to Moscow, Tver, St.Petersburg, Sergiev Posad, Yaroslavl, Vladimir and Torzhok. I've seen museums, cathedrals, art galleries. I managed to visit wonderful Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Highly recommended to everyone!

- What places would you like to visit next time?

- I want to go to Kazan, Ingushetia, Crimea and Siberia. I want to discover other landscapes, other cultures and see my friends there. And now I am looking forward to the opportunity to go to Russia again, where I have friends and close ones. I am constantly in touch with Russian consulate to get informed when private invitations to be accepted again.

- There's a high possibility that you are interested in Russian culture. What did you manage to see and read recently in Russian? What are your recent impressions?

- Of course I'm interested in Russian culture. I often watch Russian Soviet and contemporary films and TV series. Recently I have really enjoyed reading Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov. I really liked his storytelling style.

- As far as I know, you are a government employee. Does Russian language come in handy at work?

- Unfortunately no. Although, I have two or three Russian-speaking clients with whom I communicate in Russian. I hope in the future I would answer "yes" to your question.

- You have participated in the Immortal Regiment movement as a volunteer. Why the World War 2 topic is so important to the Belgian citizens in general and to you in particular?

- It is our duty to remember those heroes who saved the world. They saved us! My great-grandmother and my grandfather have also contributed to that battle. I have decided to become a Victory volunteer and even created a group of young volunteers in my region. I am the Victory Ambassador of 2020 - 2021.

Schoolchildren and students know very little of what has happened in Belgium, unfortunately. I regularly participate in the Immortal Regiment action, this year online. I also translate some articles dedicated to the World War 2 together with members of the Meridian Association in Liege. This year together with Russian Embassy representatives, we have laid flowers on the graves of Soviet soldiers in Belgium.

- You have several projects related to Russia. In particular, you aim to open a youth branch of the Russian Geographical Society in Belgium. How did this idea come about?

- Yes, it's true that I wanted to open a youth branch of the Russian Geographical Society in Brussels. It would be perfect to open the club dedicated to all the things I love – geography, travel and Russia. I have discovered this geographical society thanks to the Russian Cultural Center in Brussels, and thanks to the International Summer School organized by the Russian Geographical Society.

- What are the other Russian-themed projects you are planning?

- A few days ago I applied to participate in the youth forum of Russian compatriots abroad. It's events sound like a blast! Hope they'll accept me. I'm also participating in the Leaders of Russia competition centered on international topics. The winner to be awarded with Russian citizenship, which is my dream! I also have an idea to open a Belgian chocolate store in Moscow, and possibly in some other place in Russia. Why not?

- What information about Russia is missing in Belgium, in your opinion? What do your peers know already, and what can be done to make them be informed more about our country?

- People in Belgium are pretty naive when it comes to media. It starts at school. People stare at me with surprise when I confess that I speak Russian. Like I'm an alien, ha ha!

It looks to me that we need to hold more Russian events in Belgium. In reality, people don't know much about Russia. The opening of a geographic club is a really good opportunity to discover Russia.

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