Traveling around Russia NSU and ISTU joint offline project of summer and winter schools for international students studying in the Russian federation
The greatness of any profession is, perhaps, above all, its ability to unite people: fit is nothing but a real luxury, that of human relations.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Wind, Sand and Stars"
The idea of developing tourism here for international students going to Russian universities arose in 2020 as an effective and favorable resource for adaptation during the COVID pandemic, when most of the students found themselves in a situation of complete or partial isolation. In the best case, during the holidays, international students traveled to the well-known major centers of Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan) or stayed in the cities where their universities are located. The inability to travel home and meet with relatives has led to a number of psychological and social problems. There was a need to organize systematic work with foreign students in Russia, aimed at overcoming their problematic conditions. In this regard, the popularization of domestic tourism in the format of Summer/Winter Schools has become particularly relevant, as it has contributed to meeting not only the social, but also the psychological needs of students, including intellectual, physical and emotional.

The participants of the Summer/Winter Schools project "Travelling around Russia" are foreign students located in the territory of the Russian Federation. The main goal of the project is to provide foreign students studying at Russian universities with the opportunity to discover the diversity of Russian regions, with their special flavor and age‑old traditions, to get acquainted with their history, culture, achievements in the field of economics, education, science, art, sports, unique features of the region (geographical, climatic etc.) by holding Summer/Winter Schools on university campuses. The relevance of this project is high for international students, and for universities and regions in general. Holding schools contributes, on the one hand, to the development of safe student tourism among foreign students, and on the other hand, to the promotion of the region, including higher education institutions in the international educational space (the so-called "recognition" of the region, university is being formed).

This project was launched by the first Winter School "Izhevsk, the city of gunsmiths", which was held during the winter holidays from January 25 to February 1, 2021 in the city of Izhevsk — the capital of the Udmurt Republic, the gunsmith capital of the country. If we talk about great and famous people of Russia, then among others we, of course, mention M. Kalashnikov and P. Tchaikovsky. It so happened that these two names are directly related to the republic, two components are intertwined here: technical and cultural. And this, in addition to the national flavor, also contributes to the uniqueness of the region. The universities that organized the school are Kalashnikov ISTU and Novosibirsk State University. Information support and promotion of the school was carried out thanks to the Association of International Students of Russia. Within two weeks, more than 40 foreign students studying at universities in Glazov, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities applied for participation. As a result, 11 foreign students from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Cameroon, Liberia and Nigeria, who are majored in technical, economic and pedagogical fields, became participants of the first Winter School "Izhevsk, the city of gunsmiths". The requirement for the listeners was being interested in the declared topic.

The school program consisted of 40 academic hours and included educational and tourist-excursion modules. The educational part of the program was taught by Mikhail Evgenievich Dragunov, Ph.D., professor, expert in the analysis of weapon subjects development, small arms designer, hereditary Izhevsk gunsmith, son of the creator of the Dragunov sniper rifle E. Dragunov. The training was conducted in Russian, in some cases the teachers were making translations into English and French. Before the classes started, Mikhail Evgenievich, anticipating the expectations of the students, who at that time were studying in specialties unrelated to weapons, said: "I will try, to the best of my abilities and the time a llowed, n ot t o i mmerse y ou, b ut t o b ring y ou a l ittle closer to understanding what a weapon is. If I succeed, I will consider that I have fulfilled my task." The program, designed for 5 school days, included the following topics: "The history of weapon business development in Izhevsk. The legendary Mosin rifle", "Kalashnikov assault rifle. Dragunov sniper rifle. Nikonov automaton".
Shooting gallery in the museum and exhibition complex named after M.T. Kalashnikov
During the classes, students received theoretical and practical k nowledge on t he history of creation, structure, distinctive features, assembling/disassembling of both weapons produced at Izhevsk factories and Western models. The excursion program was related to the theme of the school, complementing the information received during the training sessions. It began with a visit to the historical and patriotic center of ISTU, the museum of small arms of the university, which contains unique samples of weapons from around the world.
Then students visited Kalashnikov Small arms museum with the opportunity to go to shooting range and shoot, and Izhmash factory museum, where they saw collections of Izhevsk weapons from 1808 to the present day. The students began studying history and culture of the Udmurt territory with an excursion to the city of Votkinsk to the memorial estate of Tchaikovsky — another iconic personality for the Udmurt Republic and Russia as a whole. They also went on sightseeing bus tours around the city and visited the openair ethnographic museum "Ludorvay" and the Kuzebai Gerd national museum. What is more, the school program included various events held by representatives of the IzhSTU International student club, who accompanied the students of the school from the first minute of their arrival.
In general, foreign students participating in the Winter School demonstrated a genuine, lively interest in the history of weapons and Kalashnikov's biography, as well as biographies of other Izhevsk gunsmiths, the history of ISTU, the city and the republic as a whole, its culture, original traditions and history. At the same time, the vast majority of them were in Izhevsk for the first time, and noted that they expected to see a typical factory city, but then saw a modern cultural, scientific and industrial center, and that there was one less unknown region of Russia for them. That's what they say themselves:
Historical and Patriotic Center of IMI-ISTU named after M.T. Kalashnikov
Najibullo Samandarov

I am very glad that I chose Winter school. It gave me a lot. I want to thank everyone who organized this project. I've learned a lot about guns. The classes were interesting and varied. Thanks to this experience, I improved my knowledge, learned a lot of interesting and valuable things about weapons and gunsmiths, practiced spoken Russian and had a great time. Thank you to ISTU for hospitality and for arranging this school!
Historical and Patriotic Center of IMI-ISTU named after M.T. Kalashnikov
Ataullo Murodov

When I went to ISTU, I thought it would be a vacation. Turned out that it wasn't. It's all serious. Practical lesson on the AK gun structure, the history of creation, assembling and disassembling... I didn't know anything about the gun business and only saw guns in the movies. And here I held them in my hands and disassembled them! I am impressed by the Kalashnikov assault rifle and Dragunov sniper rifle. I learned a lot about Russia, its history and traditions. Classes were held in a friendly atmosphere, so time flew by unnoticed. If it happens again, I will take part. Thanks. My life has been filled with knowledge, experience and joy.
Museum of Labor Glory of the Izhmash Plant
Mehrzod Juraev

I want to thank you for such wonderful days that we spent at ISTU. To be honest, everything was great, but do you know what surprised me the most? Respect for us and the attitude that your students and teachers have given us, despite the fact that we are foreigners. I felt like I was at home for a whole week, as if I was studying the history of my homeland and I wanted to know more and more. Thank you so much for such an interesting project. We were studying, not wasting time. I will definitely share my impressions with my friends and will recommend the school to my acquaintances...
The experience of accompanying foreign students also turned out to be interesting for representatives of the International Student Club of ISTU. The guys noted a great desire to work with foreign students, develop and conduct ex cursions and other events for them.
Museum-estate of P.I. Tchaikovsky, Votkinsk
Anastasia Stolbova, Head of the International Club

We ourselves have learned a lot about Izhevsk and Udmurtia. It was a pity to part with the guys. We really are looking forward to meeting with them again. Thank you for the communication experience.
M.E. Dragunov, Ph.D., professor, designer of small arms, teacher of the Winter School
During the preparation and the event itself, we faced some risks, including the difficulty of informing foreign students about the project. To date, there is no information platform for foreign students studying in Russia, where it would be possible to post up-to-date information, including info about the project "Traveling around Russia". In addition, the problem is the transport and geographical remoteness of the region and high prices for travel (with the cost of participation in the school at 17,000 rubles, the cost of the road from the regions of Siberia to Izhevsk and back ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 rubles), which is due to the lack of financing or co‑financing of such events, as well as the outflow of foreign students to the most famous and competitive regions.
The experience of accompanying foreign students also turned out to be interesting for representatives of the International Student Club of ISTU. The guys noted a great desire to work with foreign students, develop and conduct ex cursions and other events for them.
Experience has shown that international students are very interested in participating in such events. The school solved several problems at once. It strengthened the friendship between foreign and Russian students, marked the beginning of friendship and cooperation between foreign students of different universities of the Russian Federation, contributed to the promotion of the region and thereby the development of domestic tourism. And in Udmurtia, it was the trigger for the creation of a branch of the Association of Foreign Students.

At the closing ceremony, the Rector of ISTU, Professor V. Grakhov, thanked the initiators of the project idea — E. Sagaidak, Head of the Education export department of Novosibirsk State University, employees of the Institute of International Educational Programs of Kalashnikov ISTU, Mr. Adu Yao Nicaise — President of the Association of Foreign Students of the Russian Federation, as well as all those who helped to successfully implement the work of the Winter School "Izhevsk, the city of gunsmiths" that was held in the framework of the project "Traveling around Russia".
Tatiana Savchenko,
Director of International Academic Cooperation Center of Kalashnikov Izhevsk State Technical University, Head of the branch of the Association of Foreign Students of the Udmurt Republic
Evgeny Sagaidak,
Head of International Department of Novosibirsk State University, Director of Novosibirsk International Center for Education "Nice"