Monaco’s Centre for Russian Culture

Recently we’ve received many questions about the Russian School of Monaco. In this interview with Professor Claude Pallanca – Honorary Consul General of the Russian Federation in Monaco – he explains the details of his creation and a number of associated projects that are planned by the new ‘Russian Cultural Centre’ which he chairs.

CityOut: Professor, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Could you start by telling us a little about the Russian School in Monaco?

Professor Pallanca: Certainly. The Honorary Consulate-General of the Russian Federation set up the Russian School in Monaco more than two years ago at the request and with the support of parents. Monaco’s Department of Education and Sports kindly arranged for us to hold classes for children aged 6-13 in co-operation with the Charles III College. Since this is not a commercial set-up, we were particularly grateful for this Government support, which meant that parents’ fees could go directly to pay the teachers. For the present school year we invited teachers from the Solnychko Russian School – which has been running for five years in Nice and which has already established itself in teaching languages to native Russian children residing outside their homeland.

CO: What about the curriculum?

CP: In addition to Russian language and literature, we provide history lessons along with elements of geography and music, all of which are taught by instructors from the Nice school. With two hours of instruction per week (classes are held on Wednesdays from 5-7pm) teachers are able to inspire the children in a love of their native language and Russian culture.

CO: And I believe there’s also provision for children of pre-school age?

CP: Yes – as well as the four existing classes at Collège Charles III, we have a class for children aged 3 to 5 years, which takes place in the premises of the Russian Library. The children enjoy music classes and educational games in Russian. We believe it is important at this age that children continue to practise their native language, otherwise they risk losing it and learning will be more difficult.

CO: Can you tell us about the Russian Library project?

CP: In order to develop the Russian Cultural Centre, we’ve rented a big room of 100m2 for use as a library, offering books and films for adults and children. Both the Library and the Russian School are non-profit organizations, and can only continue with the help of volunteers from our Association, so let me take this opportunity to thank them for the time and effort they spend on these projects.

A library demands a very high level of professionalism, and our volunteers have already completed a training qualification at the National Library of Menton. We continuously strive to improve the basis of our library, and recently we were awarded the title ‘Cabinet du Monde Russe’ by the Russian World foundation (Russky Mir).

This is not only a great joy but also a great responsibility, because in 2011 the foundation is to present us with the best editions of Russian and world literature, as well as a large film library, music library and educational books for our school. We will have everything you need to delight Russian book lovers.

CO: What are the other activities of the Association “Russian Cultural Center”?

CP: In addition to the school and library, the Russian Cultural Center also organizes various activities for Russian-speaking children and adults who live in the Principality.

For example, last year we arranged several free trips for school students. The children visited the exhibition “Moscow, Splendours of the Romanovs” at the Grimaldi Forum, with a tour and special quiz; a treasure hunt was laid on for students visiting Monaco’s Naval Museum; and during the Classic Week, they had the opportunity to visit the legendary Russian ship “Sedov”, whose sailors told the children their extraordinary adventures.

In December we organized for our students and their parents a traditional New Year celebration around a Russian tree. The party was held in the Salle Belle Vue of the Cafe de Paris and all the main characters of Russian fairy tales were there too: Father Frost, the Snow Madien, and the witch Baba Yaga, in the company of many others. Of course, they presented children with Christmas gifts donated by our sponsors: Business FEDCOM Monaco and HSBC Private Bank!

CO: What plans do you have for the future?

CP: We’d like to offer conferences for adults (following a meeting with a representative from Monaco’s Department of Economic Development), further cultural trips (such as a visit to the Palace of Monaco for children), meetings with writers and artists, and other cultural events.

Thank you for this fascinating conversation, Mr. Pallanca. Good luck to you in all these projects.

Anna Zelenkova