Chamber of Commerce speaker Russian Egor Prokofyev
The guest speaker for the August 11 meeting of the Philip Chamber of Commerce was Egor Prokofyev, Russian interpreter for the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
This is his second summer in this position. Last year he was sponsored by the Wyoming Rotary Club. This year he is being sponsored by the National Park Service Association of Air Force Missileers.
"My friend is a superintendent in Wyoming in Rotary Club. He started international exchange with his pals and in 2007 he recommended me," said 21-year-old Prokofyev of the International VIP Program.
Egor will conclude his working visit on August 21. When he returns to Russia, he will finish his final year at Saratov State University. He is a journalism major specializing in international journalism. He hopes to go into advertising, working on slogans and campaigns. "I might stick with journalism since I already work for a couple of magazines back home. I write about automobiles, motorcycles, speed boats; anything with engines. My interest, the Cold War, is going to really expand my possibilities in making Russian/American friends."
Prokofyev is from Saratov, Russia, a city of a little over one million people. "I got used to it, now living in a small town area. I kind of like it, the slow down, but I already miss people," said Egor. "Everyone here is friendly. South Dakota is full of good people and everybody wants to meet everybody. I like it."
After returning to Russia, Prokofyev will be in the military for awhile, as are all Russian men. He said, "With the end of the Cold War, we've really enjoyed it. It's good to realize about others that 'they're just people'."
Will Egor ever revisit South Dakota someday? "Probably ... sure ... maybe not; that's my biggest problem is that I don't know even what I'm going to do tomorrow," said Egor.
Prokofyev's interpretive presentation "The Last World War" was abbreviated for the chamber. It touches upon how both Russian and United States citizens portrayed one another in propaganda during the Cold War. Prokofyev said his program relates "the idea of what would have happened if the Cold War turned hot, what if doomsday had occurred." He talked about the nuclear threats that not only existed during the Cold War, but also today and how even a small scale nuclear exchange could cause an environmental catastrophe.
Prokofyev has been able to assist the park by giving interpretive talks, performing translation of interpretive brochures and researching Russian sources for information concerning ICBMs.
Prokofyev said, "This is a unique chance to understand, to see the Cold War from the 'opposite bank of the river,' to see how it influenced the United States and its citizens. The Soviet Union does not exist anymore, but all the Russian citizens who are older than eighteen years were born in the Soviet Union. And Russian people who are older than 30 experienced all the deprivations of this economical and ideological war. Now, when the political situation in the world is more or less stable, it's a good time to dig into our countries' past, see what mistakes were made and try to avoid them in the future. The exchange of ideas is the best way to figure those mistakes out."
Prokofyev said that the Cold War started in 1946 with Winston Churchill's Fulton Speech. It almost became hot during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and it ended with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. Communism, though, is still the fourth top political party in Russia. Opposite sides of the Cold War were propagated through radio, television, posters and sports relations. Currently, eight countries have nuclear capability; Russia Federation, America, France, United Kingdom, China, India, Pakistan and Israel.
In other chamber business, co-chair Kent Olson stressed the opportunity available with Philip being Capital for a Day on August 28. "The governor isn't going to come here for Capital For A Day for more than maybe once in our lifetime, so we should make the best use of it."
The recent Festival Days were good, but, "We want to hear ways of maybe improving it and making it more substantial, especially for the kids and younger people, for next year," said Olson.
"The first few Saturdays of the Farmers Market seemed to go very well. The last few have grown and changed in having a larger variety of items," said Olson. "Next year will be even better."