Monday, 7 September 2009

Lines of escape

One of my new colleagues speaks such perfect old-fashioned English that it is difficult to remember he is Russian. It turns out he learnt it from the BBC world service; as he says, he wanted to do it really properly as one of the only ways out of “Iron curtain” times. There are still echoes of that longing to escape – and the importance of learning the English language to do so – from many people I meet. People who have studied or worked abroad, or who want to (England, America, but also India). People who see more opportunities elsewhere, but who are also fatalistic – realistic?- about getting out, about having visas revoked without much explanation, about the unavailability of jobs in the current financial situation.

And it makes me and the other English people I am working with, seem like strange beasts. What reason could we possibility have to want to make the journey in the reverse direction?

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