“My experience in Ukraine convinced me of the importance of living abroad and learning as much as you can about different people and cultures.”
Name: Paul Wasserman
Birth place: New York City, USA
Occupation: Research assistant for Zbigniew Brzezinski at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Languages: English, Russian, French
Currently reading: “Black Earth” by Tim Snyder, “A Secret Life” by Benjamin Weiser and “The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu. My bedside stand is stacked pretty high!
Favorite media outlets: The New York Times, Project Syndicate, Dozhd, Grantland
What is your most memorable international experience?
During my 2013 spring break, I traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, and arrived days after Yanukovych had fled the country.
People were still occupying Maidan. There was no effective control or leadership.
Navigating my way through informal militia pickets, stacked piles of cobblestones and burning trash cans, I met and interviewed as many people as I could, recording their experiences and their hopes for the future of Ukraine.
The experience convinced me of the importance of living abroad and learning as much as you can about different people and cultures.
How did you become interested in international relations?
The long answer can be connected back to my interest in Russia.
When I was six years old, I was cast into the opera Boris Godunov at the Washington National Opera in Washington, DC.
I have an identical twin brother, and the director cast us to play the ghost of Dmitry, the boy tsar who Godunov killed in order to take over the throne. The ghost drives Godunov crazy, something that my brother and I achieved by one of us appearing on one side of stage, and then seconds later on the other side of the stage.
Ever since that point I have been fascinated with Russian history, culture and politics.
From there, my eyes were opened into the different ways that states and international entities interact and how a state’s history and cultural past are integral in the development and strength of that country.