Russia through the Eyes of Foreigners: Photo Exhibition by Student Uvindu Wijeweera

On April 10th, a photo exhibition by a student from Sri Lanka Uvindu Wijeweera was presented at South Ural State University. It was organized by the student with the goal of showing how international students see Russia.

SUSU Rector Aleksandr Shestakov and Vice-Rector for International Relations Olga Yaroshenko offered the welcome speeches and wished the author of the photo exhibition success on his creative path. After this, the guests were shown the works by the photographer: portraits and pictures of landscapes taken in various cities across Russia.

Uvindu Wijeweera has been living in Chelyabinsk for more than 4 years already. He earned his Master’s degree from the SUSU Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, and is currently continuing to study Russian in the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications and is planning on enrolling in a postgraduate programme at SUSU. In addition, he is the president of the South Ural Association of International Students and actively participates in extracurricular activities at the university. Some of Uvindu’s photos are dedicated to student life at SUSU.

“Our international students regularly take part in all of the university’s events. Some show their strengths in sports, and others – in art. The most important thing for the university is to create the conditions for our students to improve themselves in some field,” stresses the Vice-Rector for International Relations. “Uvindu Wijeweera is a role model for many students. He is the one who initiated this event. Many of the pieces he is presenting were created over many hours, and required not just photographic talent, but also perseverance. Uvindu says that he loves Russia and Russian culture, and for the guests, it is a chance to look at our country through the eyes of an international student.”

Staff of the International Office, the SUSU School of Photography, and the South Ural Association of International Students took part in the organization of the photo exhibition, and many members of the SUAIS also acted as models for the photographer.

“Out of all the Russian cities, the majority of foreigners only know Moscow and Saint Petersburg. But Russia is not just the capital cities, it is also the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East. And photography is a chance to show beautiful places to the world. But I didn’t just photograph cities, I also took photos of my friends who came to study here in Russia like me. Many of them saw snow for the first time here. This is a special emotion, and I tried to capture it,” said Uvindu Wijeweera.

The photo exhibition shows photos taken in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg, Kurgan, Khanty-Mansiysk, in the Caucasus, and in Sri Lanka. In addition, the sights of Chelyabinsk are represented in the series of photos: Kirova Street, Revolution Square and the N. Orlov Chelyabinsk State Academic Drama Theatre, Aleksandr Nevsky Church at Aloye Polye Square, and the main building of South Ural State University. The majority of the photos were taken in Russia, and each of them has a story behind it. And if you look closely, you can “read” them, believes Uvindu Wijeweera.

Viktoria Matveichuk; photos by the author
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