Angels and “demons”: did aliens really contact saints?

Depictions of UFOs in Christian churches and pictures since the 11th century

Reading time 4 minutes

Did the humans descend from Adam and Eve? Not quite, some of the researchers say. We can see an increasing amount of assertions and so-called “facts” that human beings are under the control of aliens.  Some ufologists state that extraterrestrials allegedly contact some of us. However, the Church’s official representatives do not just reject all these statements but even a theoretical possibility of such kind of “interaction” between a man and “beings from other planets and not just”. Why does the Church with so much vigor try to “retain its monopoly” on the Human Origins?

2014 almost the whole scientific community was curious about an unusual finding. A strange fresco with a supposedly depicted flying saucer was found in a Romanian church. Moreover, the same kind of enigmatic inscription from the Bible was written at the bottom of the image in German: “Israel hoffe auf den herrn” (“O Israel, hope in the Lord”). Apart of a flying saucer, in this story we face 2 more additional mysterious facts:

  1. The fresco dates from the 14th century and there is an original line in German, although Bible was translated by Martin Luther only in 1522.
  2. At that time there lived the ruler of Wallachia Vlad II who was father of Vlad the Impaler also known as Vlad Dracula.
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)

One more similar discovery happened in 2017 in Georgia. There, during the reconstruction of the church, scientists found the mural painting of 12 apostles and Jesus during the crucifixion dating from the 11th century. At the top of the picture one may see 2 unknown flying objects which resemble alien spaceships.

"Crucifixion of Jesus" on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)
“Crucifixion of Jesus” on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)

Two other images of the Jesus’ crucifixion with flying saucers being present are the “Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani dating from the 14th century and a picture “La Tebaide” created  by Paolo Uccello (1396-1475) .

“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)   

So, what do the Church’s officials say about the “extraterrestrial contact” and existence of other civilizations beyond Solar system?

Regardless of being Orthodox and Catholics, Jews or Evangelicals priests are convinced that all the information from so-called witnesses is nothing else as a part of their vivid imaginations, nightmares or even a proof of their sinfulness and connection with the devil.

One of the most logic explanations of such kind of Church servants’ reaction is just a lack of this sort of information in holy scriptures. The Church fears to lose its impact on people, its dominating presence in people’s life in terms of accepting the fact of existence of more developed and powerful forces. It fears to get a lower rank position in people’s world outlook and as a consequence a loss of its respect and authority.

"Baptism of Christ" Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)
“Baptism of Christ” Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)

Anyway, it looks a bit illogical from priests’ side that in view of the absence of information they do preserve only a negative attitude regarding flying saucers as they are depicted in temples near saints and not in a “hostile” way. Why in case of their existence cannot they be helpful to us?

A good example of it is a depiction of Moses receiving commandments from God. It is a world-famous fresco which is placed on one of the walls of the Belgian Cathedral Conti Dotremond.

A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown
A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown

It depends on you whether believe or not in aliens and their possible “visits” to our planet but in no case we have a right to accuse somebody to be inadequate, mentally ill or “linked to the Lucifer” as it sometimes happens. Nevertheless, we should not trust everyone who has seen “them” as too many people create stories for different reasons.

«Берлинский пациент» умер от рака

История первого в мире человека, победившего ВИЧ

Reading time 2 minutes

Тимоти Рэй Браун, известный как «Берлинский пациент», умер 29 сентября после продолжительной борьбы с лейкозом. Ему было 54. Об этом сообщил его партнер на странице в Фейсбуке.

Тимоти Браун учился в университете Берлина, когда врачи поставили мужчине диагноз ВИЧ. Отсюда и пошло прозвище «Берлинский пациент». Затем у Брауна обнаружили лейкоз — заболевание кроветворной системы. Геро Хюттер, лечащий врач Тимоти, предложил пересадить пациенту костный мозг донора с иммунитетом к ВИЧ-инфекции. Иммунитет возникает, когда у человека отсутствует поверхностный лимфоцитарный белок CCR5.

Геро Хюттер и Тимоти Браун
Геро Хюттер и Тимоти Браун

При попадании в организм вирус старается проникнуть в лимфоциты — иммунные кровяные клетки. Для этого белок вируса должен связаться с двумя белковыми рецепторами лимфоцитов, один из которых — CCR5. Некоторые люди обладают с рождения генной мутацией. Она останавливает синтез CCR5.

В 2007 врачи первый раз провели пациенту трансплантацию костного мозга. Она не была полностью успешной: ВИЧ не определялся в организме, но рак продолжал развиваться. Вскоре процедуру повторили, и на этот раз наступила ремиссия. Оба раза биологический материал брали у одного донора.

Браун со своей собакой по имени Джек
Браун со своей собакой по имени Джек

В 2008 на Международной конференции по борьбе со СПИДом о выздоровлении Тимоти узнали все. История Брауна вызвала скептицизм в научном сообществе. Некоторые исследователи хотели самостоятельно протестировать кровь на наличие инфекции, так как не доверяли результатам. Были и те, кто считал полное выздоровление невозможным: у пациента мог случиться рецидив. Несмотря на громкие заявления прессы о лекарстве от ВИЧ, трансплантация стволовых клеток не используется для борьбы с вирусом. Операции сложные и рискованные: доноры с иммунитетом встречаются очень редко, а сама процедура опасна из-за возможных осложнений и летального исхода.

Незадолго до смерти в интервью изданию Associated Press Браун рассказал, что лейкоз вернулся. Он лечился при помощи химиотерапии, но рак победил. До конца жизни у Тимоти сохранился иммунитет к инфекции.

Тимоти никогда не жалел, что решился на операцию
Тимоти никогда не жалел, что решился на операцию

На данный момент лекарства от вируса иммунодефицита не существует. Ученые много лет работают над вакциной, но результатов нет: вирус встраивается в геном клетки, поэтому его сложно изучить. ВИЧ-положительные люди принимают специальные антиретровирусные препараты, которые задерживают развитие СПИДа и сопутствующих заболеваний. Инфицированные при успешном лечении могут дожить до старости.

Заведующая центра по профилактике СПИДа Наталья Сизова отмечает, что после случая «Берлинского пациента» исследователи не исключают факт разработки мутации рецепторов CCR5. Это значит, что появится возможность искусственно создавать иммунитет к ВИЧ у заболевших.

Ocean in motion

Cruises: an affordable travel format

Reading time 4 minutes

A sea cruise may seem old-fashioned and not too comfortable, you may associate it with sailors of the past. Indeed, this way of exploring different parts of the world has a long history. One of the most important events connected with it was a shipbuilding revolution. I happened in the 30s of the 19th century, when sailing ships were replaced by steamboats. It was then that the transatlantic voyages became widespread, although the price of such trips was high and accessible to few people. Today, cruises have become a separate type of travel industry, and the price range and the number of destinations have expanded significantly. But are there any other benefits of this travel format?

Cruises as a luxury of a bygone era

Diversity. You can visit three, four, or even five countries at once. Every morning you arrive at a new port and plunge into the color of an unknown place – you go by shuttle to the nearest major city and get acquainted with its sights. If you don’t want to spend time and money on excursions, you can just go for a walk yourself, go to a local restaurant or (in summer) stay near the coast and swim in the sea.

«Посмотри на мир. Он куда удивительнее cнов» — Рэй Брэдберри.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,” – Susan Sontag

Profit. A cruise, for example, through the Mediterranean, allows you to visit Italy, France, and Spain in a week. At the same time, the need to pay for several hotels and meals disappear. You will save the most when choosing the most expensive destinations, such as the Norwegian Fjords or the islands of the Indian Ocean. Well, if you decide to explore countries such as Denmark, Finland and Estonia, you can completely forget about air tickets – cruise ships leave directly from St. Petersburg, this is one of the most inexpensive options.

Fun. Modern cruise ships offer plenty of entertainment right on board. During the trip, the guest has an opportunity to swim in the pool and sunbathe on the deck, play games with animators, attend a circus show in the evening, sing karaoke and enjoy the seascape.

Atmosphere. During the cruise, a gala dinner is held for guests at least once – is this not a reason to show off your spectacular look in front of the photographer? In addition, every evening you can see off the sunset overlooking the water surface – that is a real beauty. Who knows, maybe it is the seascape that brings you closer to harmony within yourself?

Create your own sunset collection

Double Christmas and New Year?

How Russia came to the different celebrations of the same holidays

Reading time 6 minutes

The humanity invented many calendars such as moon and moon-solar, Julian and Gregorian, also new Julian one. Let’s know what calendars used in Russia and how they affected contemporary holidays.

Ancient Slavic tribes had many customs connected with tne Moon
Ancient Slavic tribes had many customs connected with tne Moon

Our ancestors espoused paganism so they closely associated life with the cycle processes of nature. The ancient Slavic tribes counted time via moon calendar. The term between moon appearing and its disappearing constituted approximately 30 days and was called a month. The celebration of New Year started at around December 25 and lasted for a dozen days after the solstice. Then the duration of daylight started to expand, and the Slavs launched a new sowing circle.

The calendar changing in Russia happened in the X century because of a new faith arrival of. Knyaz Vladimir baptized his territories to the Byzantine rite. Christian date calculation came with the new religion. Since then Slavic tribes started distinguishing years from the Creation of the World and stated the 1st of March as the new year’s first day. Months’ names also were changed according to the Julian calendar that was invented in Rome at 46 B.C.

Ivan III removed the New Year from the 1st of March to the 1st of September. The tzar sought to unification of holidays in Russia, so in 1492 combined the New Year with the harvest festival and the tax collection time.

Gregory XIII is famous for the calendar introduced into the Catholic countries in XVI century. the author of the calendar is a priest and astronomer Christopher Clavius
Gregory XIII is famous for the calendar introduced into the Catholic countries in XVI century. the author of the calendar is a priest and astronomer Christopher Clavius

In the XVI century, people found out that the duration of year in the Julian calendar did not correspond to the astronomical one. The Earth revolves around the Sun 12 minutes faster than the Romans believed in ancient times. In 1582, the discrepancy constituted 10 days. That was the reason why Christmas shifted to spring, and Easter to summer. To improve calculations, Pope Gregory XIII suggested a new calendar which was named Gregorian later. It was accepted so in Catholic world October 15 came after October 4 to annihilate the gap between calendars.

This gap between calendars accumulates over every 128 years. Therefore, before 1701, it made up 10 days, while nowadays it amounts to 13. While the dissimilarity between the Gregorian and astronomical year amasses over 3333 years. New Julian calendar is the most precise. It lags from the astronomical year no sooner than over 40,000 years pass. Until 2800, the New Julian and the Gregorian calendars are alike.

Peter I was that who moved the New Year to the 1st of January, though he left the Julian calendar. Therefore, Russia stepped into the 1700th year A.D. from 7208th year from the Creation of the World. However, due to the gap of 10 days Russians in St. Petersburg celebrated The New Year when, for instance, in Amsterdam people lived in the 10th of January.

Tikhon is the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917
Tikhon is the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917

The second New Year occured in Russia after 1918 when the Bolsheviks finally switched to the Gregorian calendar. Although, the secular state accepted it, the Church still stuck to the old style. Patriarch Tikhon reject the calendar because according to it, the Orthodox Easter could fall before the Jewish holiday Pesach. It contradicted the decisions of the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 A.D. Therefore, the Orthodox celebrate Christmas Eve not at the 24th of December as Catholics do but at the 6th of January. And they celebrate the Old New year at the 13th of January.

Thus, since the tenth decade of the last century, Orthodox people in Russia have been living simultaneously on two calendars with two new years and Christmas in January.

Where the Halloween came from?

A brief history of the worldwide holiday

Reading time 6 minutes

Although many people celebrate the Halloween at the eve of November 1, not many of them are aware of the roots of the holiday. This article is just about the history of Halloween.

The holiday was invented by Druids that was one of the peoples pertaining to the ancient Celtic tribes. The majority of Druids inhabited the territory of modern UK, France and Spain. They divides a year to 2 seasons, so they did not have Spring and Autumn. Summer ended at October 31 and the next day new season, Winter, and New Wear begun. Also, October 31 was the last day of harvest. Then Celtic tribes celebrated Samhain which means the end of Summer in translation from Celtic. During the holiday people lit sacred fires, thanked gods for not depriving the tribe from crops, and met the dark season. Samhain was the ancestor of contemporary Halloween.

The area setteled by the Celtic tribes B.C.
The area setteled by the Celtic tribes B.C.

Ancient Celtic tribes adhere paganism. They believe that in the Samhain’s night souls of the dead roam in the world of the living. Celtic tried to propitiate them with sweet gifts so that they keep the next harvest safe. These beliefs have transformed into trick-or-treat tradition. Children knock to the doors of adults to entreat them to give sweets and biscuits. Nobody refuses because in the past superstition that anyone who did not open the door for the spirit, would be punished existed.

Halloween is the day, when people eat the largest amount of sweets anually
Halloween is the day when people eat the largest amount of sweets anually

One more custom is carving lanterns from pumpkins. Not having wanted to attract ghosts to houses at Samhain’s night, ancient Celts extinguished their hearths and kindled forest fires. To reach the forest safely, they dressed in animal skins. In the forest the Druids performed sacrifices: they burned cows at the stake. After that the fire became sacred. Members of the tribe placed coals from their fires in lanterns cut from turnips. Then the Druids took the lanterns and left them at the door so that the souls of their ancestors could see their homes and escape wandering around the world. Dark spirits, according to the Celts, were afraid of this fire.

The tradition is based on Celtic myths. The legend says that the Irishman Jack lived to outwit both God and the devil, therefore he did not go to heaven or hell after death but remained in purgatory forever. In order not to wander in the pitch darkness, he made a lantern. The farmer put a hell coal given by the devil into the lantern.

Nowadays, the pumpkin has become the main symbol of Halloween
Nowadays, the pumpkin has become the main symbol of Halloween

At the beginning of the new era the Celts were conquered by the Romans then both were forced to become Christians. Because of this, pagan holidays were gradually mixed with Church ones or blurred but they were not consigned to oblivion, for example, Samhain underwent a metamorphosis.

After Pope Gregory III officially moved the celebration of All Hallows Eve from spring to November 1, the ancient pagan holiday and the new Catholic one coincided. From that moment Samhain was called Halloween. Initially, All Hallows Eve was shortened to Hallowe’en and then to Halloween.

Halloween parade in New-York, the capital of the holiday
Halloween parade in New-York, the capital of the holiday

In the 19th century many Irish emigrated to North America and brought the traditions of the holiday. Now Halloween is celebrated most widely in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries. From the beginning of A.D. to the XXI century many rituals have changed. Jack’s lantern is not made from turnips anymore, nowadays people make it from pumpkins. Moreover, they carve not ancestors’ faces but terrifying ones. Revelers do not dress up in animal skins they wear costumes of evil spirits. Nowadays, the celebration of Halloween is becoming more popular even in those countries that did not adopt the Celtic culture from their ancestors.

Borderless education

How Russian students take part in international mobility

Reading time 5 minutes

According to RBC data, in 2015 more than 50 thousand Russians studied abroad. This is about 1.5% of all international students. Statistics have shown that students prefer to travel to the United States and European countries although China is becoming more and more popular.

The cost of education in Europe universities according to the data of state agencies
The cost of education in Europe universities according to the data of state agencies

Any student can build an independent educational trajectory of education abroad or participate in international academic mobility programs with the help of home-university. RNU HSE is among those universities that offer such exchange programs. It has more than 74 arrangements with institutes in 27 countries.

HSE stusents on the international mobility program
HSE stusents on the international mobility program

HSE advises to divide the participation into the international academic mobility program into several stages:

  1. Make sure that you meet all the criteria that apply to exchange candidates.
  2. Calculate your budget: you will not have to pay for the education but both visa and transport, insurance and accommodation, food and unexpected expenses are covered by the student. In case of difficulties with calculations, you can use the site.
  3. Submit an online application form to participate in the competition: for autumn mobility it is held in February-April and for spring one in August-October.
  4. Check your email address to find out the selection results. They are announced one month after the end of the application process.
  5. If the application is approved, get ready to go: check the list of things and study the recommendations for traveling abroad on the website of the Russian foreign Ministry.

To make sure that the student is ready to study, the host country may ask to confirm the level of English fluency. The tip: programs that require international certificates have lower competition. Therefore, if you confirm your knowledge of the language with an international exam certificate in advance, it will significantly increase your chances of learning abroad. To do this, you should pass IELTS or TOEFL but not lower than the level B2 according to the CEFR classification.

The stages of fluency in foreign languages according to classifications of CEFR and British Council
The stages of fluency in foreign languages according to classifications of CEFR and British Council

According to the experience of students who have studied abroad, you should learn ahead as much as possible about the country you are going to and study the course program. Also, you should know in advance how you will be evaluated and whether you will be able to recalculate the received grades on the return. The clearer and more extensive your understanding of life in the host country, the less likely you are to suffer from culture shock or homesickness. To do this, you can monitor the media platforms of the host country, correspond with locals or analyze the experience of your predecessors. No one can guarantee that you will be 100% comfortable in your new place but careful preparation will help make the experience more enjoyable.

From Jay-Z to Drake: Richest Rappers

The Forbes rating is headed by the first billionaire in hip-hop culture — Jay-Z

Reading time 7 minutes

In early June, an influential financial publication Forbes published a list of the richest rap artists. The wealthiest rapper in the world is a hip-hop artist Jay-Z, the husband of the famous R’n’B singer Beyoncé. In early 2000s he sang: «I’m already the G.O.A.T. — next stop is the billie». So it happened: today the musician’s capital is one billion dollars. Jay-Z became the first owner of a billion dollars in the history of hip-hop culture.

Jay-Z (Shawn Corey Carter) for the second year in a row becomes the wealthiest rapper in the world

The rapper invested in a private company Uber, music service Tidal, alcohol production company Armand de Brignac и D`Uss. The musician gains his profit from concerts and Roc Nation service, and also a partnership with the recording Studio Def Jam. The real estate of Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé is estimated at $50 million, and the collection of art objects — $ 70 million.

The younger generation of hip-hop artists takes Jay-Z as an example of success. TV presenter and novice rapper Fab 5 Freddy believes that Jay-Z — an example of how to make the real American dream come true.

Second place — Dr. Dre, $800 million

Dr. Dre (Andre Romelle Young ) was considered the richest artist in hip-hop culture until March 2018

Five years ago, Dr. Dre. declared himself the owner of a billion dollars. However, Forbes did not confirm this information about his financial condition. In 2014, the musician sold his line of headphones Beats by Dr. Dre to Apple for three billion dollars. He owned approximately 20-25% of the company’s shares. For the deal with Apple, hip-hop artist received an advance of about $500 million. Only last summer the company paid Dr. Dre remaining fee, however, even this did not help him top the Forbes’s list.

In recent years, the artist has put his music in the background. Dr. Dre invested his money in real estate and charity. He bought a huge Villa in California for $40 million. Together with partner Jimmy Iovine, he also invested $70 million in the development of the Academy of Arts at the University of Southern California.

Third place — Diddy, $740 million

In 2017, P. Diddy (Sean John Combs)  was recognized as the wealthiest hip-hop artist

Hip-hop artist Diddy earned his first money at the age of 12 by selling newspapers. He admitted this in an interview in the anniversary issue of Forbes. At that time the edition considered Diddy to be the wealthiest and most influential rap artist.

Now the musician takes the third place in the list of the richest rappers. Market fluctuations have a negative impact on his business projects. The most unprofitable were the cable  business Revolt and the clothing brand Sean John.

However, the rapper Diddy owns a successful business as well. For example, the production of luxury vodka Ciroc. Products give the musician a lot of money, as the volume of sales has increased in recent years. According to Forbes, Diddy will soon replace Jay-Z and become a billionaire.

Fourth place — Kanye West, $240 million

Kanye West
In the promotion of the collection of sneakers Yeezy, actively involved the wife of the rapper – Kim Kardashian

The famous performer and husband of epotage Kim Kardashian Kanye West ranks fourth in the list of wealthy colleagues. Recently, the musician can be spotted at private Sunday services on the South coast. West also held an Easter service at the largest Coachella festival.

In 2016, the musician told about his debt of $53 million. Then he suggested the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to invest one billion dollars in his projects. In 2019, Kanye West still entered the top five wealthy artists in hip-hop culture, but thanks to another source of investment. Kanye West has a partnership  with the sports brand Adidas for more than one year. Prior to this brand, the artist had a contract with Nike. This collaboration with Adidas brings huge income to the rapper, his line of sneakers Yeezy is gaining more and more popularity. According to Forbes, if Yeezy sales do not stop growing, Kanye West will become a billionaire thanks to the business.

Fifth place — Drake, $150 million

Drake
Hip hop artist Drake produces strong alcohol, which brings him huge profits

Concludes the list of the richest hip-hop artists 32-year-old canadian rapper Drake. But he is already catching up with his colleagues: over the past year, his musician’s capital has doubled. Drake has invested in real estate and in its own brand of whiskey Virginia Black. The rapper cooperates with the XS Nightclub in Las Vegas, which also brings the rapper a large fee.

In 2013, the musician admitted that earning more money is one of his main goals. And he sticks to the plan: since that time, the average price tag for one concert of the artist has grown from $500,000 to more than two million dollars.

British scientists shocked!

It turned out that the ancient Celtic warriors fought with willow bark shields

Reading time 4 minutes

In Leicestershire, England, researchers discovered a 2300-year-old shield that was made from tree bark. This fossil is the only specimen of such a shield of the territory of Europe.

The shield dates back to 395–250 BC. Archaeologists say that the discovery drastically changed their ideas about weapons of the Iron Age and caused a heated discussion between experts.

Щит сохранился благодаря оставлению в заболоченной яме
The shield is preserved because it was left in a marshy pit. (Photo: University of Leicester)

“This is certainly an amazing object, one of the most iconic and world-important finds I have seen in all my work,” admitted Julia Farley, curator of British and European Iron Age collections in the British Museum.

In 2015, researchers from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service near the Soar River found a shield. According to Matt Beamish, the chief archaeologist of the study, objects from natural materials of this time are extremely rarely preserved, but the shield has survived in marshy soil. Maybe he was specially placed in a water-filled pit.

Matt Beamish added that shields from the bark of that period had never been found in the northern hemisphere before. It was assumed that the wood material was too flimsy for use in wars. However, the reconstruction of weapons from alder and willow proved that the 3 mm thick shield was light but reliable enough in the battles of that time. According to Beamish, contrary to researchers’ assumptions, such weapons were widespread in that period.

Процесс реконструкции найденного щита из ольхи и ивы
Alder and willow shield reconstruction process (Photo: University of Leicester)

The weapon is made of green bark, which is reinforced from the inside with slats of the same material. The main part is surrounded by a rim of hazel and wicker willow. Matt Beamish noted that “this is a lost technology,” which was not known before. Apparently, this technique was used in many areas for the manufacture of products from the bark.

Supple green tree, giving the shield strength and shape that remotely resembles the figure eight

“It was important,” says Farley. According to her, the Battersea shield had a similar shape. It was extracted from the Thames in the middle of the 19th century and dates from the same period.

Щит Баттерси
Battersea Shield (Photo: British Museum)

Farley argues that the visual world of the Iron Age is lost for us, since from the period 395-250 BC few artifacts left. She added that a new find for her is “a small window into that world.” For Farley, this awareness is “incredible and so exciting.”

The shield was donated to the British Museum. Farley hopes that the shield will be exhibited in the museum next year.

How to become an international volunteer

You can go abroad and get a language practice almost for free

Reading time 5 minutes

Many people dream to visit another country and join its culture, especially those who study a foreign language. But what if there is no money for a trip abroad? You can use an international volunteer program and in return receive practice of live communication with native speakers – such opportunities are provided by work of the volunteer. There are two ways to become a volunteer abroad.

The first way. Travel to a foreign country as a volunteer will help intermediary agencies.

International volunteer camp

Volunteers do not only physical work. They can teach children a foreign language or help the homeless

Each camp has its own theme. Some invite volunteers to clean the forest, others – to help the homeless, and others – to participate in the filming of the host country. Often it is spelled out possible work for volunteers in the description of the camp. The main task is to read everything carefully and choose the place where, in your opinion, you can fully reveal yourself. Organizers from one camp invite 10-20 people, they work together about 4-6 hours a day, and the rest of the time can be spent as they prefer. Usually the volunteer program lasts from one to three weeks, but you can find longer projects (for several months or more).

There are almost no age restrictions. Someone requires only adult volunteers, someone needs teenagers – in this case, the project will be marked Teen camp. There are also family camps where volunteers with children are invited. In order to take part in the volunteer program, you must apply on the website of the Russian sending organization (Sphere, Chipmunk, World4you), do not have outstanding criminal records and bad habits such as drug addiction and alcoholism.

The volunteer will live and eat in the camp free of charge, yet the tickets and visa will have to be paid for themselves. In addition, you must pay a fee for participation (about 5-7 thousand rubles for short programs). Many people claim it is embarrassed. But, as it is explained by the organizators, the money goes to the maintenance of the sending company (office rent, payment for the Internet, phones, electricity, etc.), and is a guarantee that the volunteer will get a place in the camp.  A month before the trip the participant receives a route, information about what to take with them, and contacts of the camp leader.

European Solidarity Corps (ESC)

The logo of the European corps of solidarity

Another program that allows young people aged from 18 to 30 years to go abroad as a volunteer. The European Union has been implementing it for 20 years. Conditions of participation are similar to the requirements of the International volunteer camp: a volunteer can participate in the project from two weeks to a year, must work from 30 to 38 hours a week and have a basic knowledge of English.

The company compensates all expenses: tickets, accommodation, food and transport. In addition, it provides the opportunity to attend language courses and go to two volunteer training. So, constant communication in a foreign language is exactly provided!

The second way. You can search for a volunteer program on your own, without intermediaries.  This is the most difficult and often unsafe way. But with the self-selection of the program, the participant will not have to pay the fee required by the Agency. However, in this case, no one will guarantee that the conditions of staying abroad as a volunteer will meet your expectations.

Garbage was at the bottom of the deepest point of the ocean

American explorer made a record dive into the Mariana Trench

Reading time 4 minutes

Victor Vescovo descended into the deepest point of the ocean. His bathyscaphe reached the bottom of the world famous Mariana Trench. The depth of immersion was 16 meters more than in the previous descent in 1960.

Впадина
Mariana Trench – Oceanic Deepwater Chute in the Western Pacific

The American explorer reached the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the ocean, its depth is 11,000 meters.

 

What did the researcher discover?

Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, was stunned to find something similar to plastic in the deepest point of the ocean. At this time, he was in a machine specially designed to withstand tremendous pressure. After spending four hours under water, he remembered only rubbish. It was a plastic bag and candy wrappers.

Plastic waste in the ocean, according to UN estimates, reached 100 million tons.

Последнее погружение достигло 10 927 м (35 849 футов) под водой - новый рекорд
The last dive at 10,927 m (35,849 ft) is a new record (Photo: TAMARA STUBBS)

For the last three weeks, Vescovo has dived four times into the Mariana Trench to collect various biological samples and forms of rocky soil. He is the third man who descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The last who tried to do this was Canadian film director James Cameron in 2012, and before that, one of the US Navy lieutenants in the 1960s plunged into the hollow. Vescovo dive was the deepest in history.

The expedition was watched by Atlantic Productions, which collected material for a documentary for the Discovery Channel. Work under pressure, poor visibility and low water temperature made it difficult to shoot. Anthony Geffen, creative director of Atlantic Productions, said it was the hardest shot in his experience.

Виктор Весково провел четыре часа, исследуя дно траншеи
Victor Vescovo spent four hours, exploring the bottom of the trench (Photo: ATLANTIC PRODUCTIONS FOR DISCOVERY)

“Our team had to pioneer new camera systems that could be mounted on the submersible, operate at up to 10,000m below sea level and work with robotic landers with camera systems that would allow us to film Victor’s submersible on the bottom of the ocean. ”

After the completion of the expedition at the end of this year, the team plans to transfer the apparatus to scientific institutions. After, the researchers will be able to use the device in further work.