Professor spends three weeks in Siberia

Kelsi Nelson

Kelsi Nelson

For three weeks this summer, Russ Stubbles, a professor in the horticulture, forestry, landscape, and parks department, traveled to Biisk, a city in southern Siberia, where he taught students about tourism and agriculture.

This was not the first time Stubbles had traveled overseas.

He is involved in Agri-cultural Cooperative Development International and Victims of Crime Arts, which are both a part of United States Agency for International Development. Through this agency, Stubbles has traveled to Poland, Kazakhstan, Romania and Russia.

“You learn something new every time you go,” said Stubbles of his travels overseas.

The school Stubbles taught at is equivalent to that of an American technical school, and he worked with about 60 students majoring in tourism.

“To succeed in the world, you have to quit thinking like yesterday,” Stubbles told his students.

He also taught the students how to market their industry, using the Internet.

The potential for the tourism industry is great in Siberia, and the area is popular for its whitewater rafting, hiking, biking and museums, Stubbles said.

Students have always worried about money and questioned why people would come to visit. But Stubbles told them that was not their concern; their job was to develop a program, market it right and take care of the tourists once they came.

Stubbles described the students at the school as, “Very bright. They wished to succeed and hated to fail.”

He said if they had been born in the United States, they would be middle class working people, but Siberia is a very poor country.

For example, Stubbles’s translator, while he was in Biisk, made $125 a month, which comes out to $1,500 per year. It is a common practice for people to live with their grandparents, aunts or uncles in order to make it, he said.

“Everyone pulls together to live, and they stay together to survive,” Stubbles said.

When he travels overseas, Stubbles said he feels he is constantly proving himself.

But people treated him very well when they realized he was honest, and the fact that he had money didn’t hurt either.

His travels are definitely memorable experiences, filled with story after story.

“(You) never know what’s going to happen next… (there’s) a whole different world that people don’t even know exist,” he said.

This semester, Stubbles is on sabbatical, but he will resume teaching classes in the spring.

Students have positive things to say about the classes they have taken with Stubbles.

“In my personal experience at SDSU, Dr. Stubbles is the best professor I’ve had so far, because he talked about real-life experiences in class that pertained to life,” said Matt Loeslie, who took a course from Stubbles last fall.