“Songs, dances, and stories change from village to village, even those as close as two kilometers apart. Imagine, then, the nearly Herculean effort of Sergey and Yelena Minyonok to document and preserve these traditions in the vast regions of Southwestern Russia. Nearly impossible for two people, this task is suddenly achievable with the assistance of volunteers. Does this project save the world? No. But it preserves a small part of it. Closed off from the rest of the world for nearly four generations, details of this part of Russia have not been available to its own people for a very long time, much less outsiders. A part of the world so richly steeped in legend and tradition deserves our attention. And it cries out to be remembered”.

Leigh Phipps, Marketing Director, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the summer of 1996 -

    “I would like to thank you Yelena and Sergei Minyonok for all of their help and assistance. They are good professionals with a careful attention to detail and the concerns of expedition members. It was one of my best experience”.

Gary Asteak, Attorney at Law, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the winter of 2000 -

    "I enjoyed everything! In addition to what I expected to derive from the project, I also really enjoyed the food, open hearted kindness of the villages and the group sense of humor".

Lydia Bartholomew, MD Clinic Chief home phone number: (425)-868-2863

    "0n January 1998, I was fortunate enough to have a unique and personally enriching cultural experience, assisting Yelena Minyonok in villages of southwest Russia. I spent twelve days as a volunteer participant/observer research team member, documenting folklore, folk songs, embroidery and other artifacts, and learning about the past and present cultures of the region. Village residents were warmly generous with their hospitality to us, and enjoyed adding their experiences and knowledge to our important folklore preservation and documentation work".

Julia Saunders, Research Interviewer, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the winter of 1998 -

    "I'm 60, a retired teacher, with a love of travel, people, history/culture, art and literature.  (I've loved Russian literature since I discovered Dostoyevski at 17;  Chekov is second in my heirarchy of theatre, after Shakespeare; and Stravinski, Prokofiev and Shostakovitch among my favourite composers.) and flowers, birds and the natural world.  This was my second visit to Russia, the first being a fortnight's holiday when I was teaching in Finland in 1962.  I've always wanted the opportunity to know the people and culture behind the history and art - Minyonok's study was the chance.  I found the food terrific, the living conditions fine (except for needing the loo in the night!), our hostesses lovely ladies, and Principal Investigators' care of us superlative!   I think I've included my attitude to the experience in the Report - a chance to recognize the differences between peoples, and even more important, our common humanity! (Behind the political facades,  people are so clearly sisters;  I always knew the people of eastern Europe were fundamentally the human, good and bad, just as those anywhere else!)"

Phoebe Ravenhall, a retired teacher, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the winter of 2000

“I had the pleasure of participating in one of the Minyonoks' village expeditions, one of the unforgettable experiences of my life. I have the highest respect for these two young scientists and their work, and, watching the teenagers of Russia with their Western orientation, I hope they can continue with this valuable documentation”.

Lilly Otto, a teacher of English as a second language, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the summer of 1996 -

    “A wonderful cultural adventure! Yelena and Sergey Minyonok were superb at handling both the research itself, and the expedition team members. For me the cultural and sociological value outweighed the financial cost of the project”.

Billy Ponders, Air Force Captain, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the winter of 1998 -

    “The project was everything I dreamed it would be and more. I went expecting to be an observer and ended up being a participant in the lives of the people. When we had to say good-bye to the villagers I felt I was saying good-bye to friends. The warmth and hospitality of the people is what made the difference. The visits to people’s homes were definitely the most wonderful experiences. I also loved our final dinner to which we invited the chorus of women in the area. I sat next to and sang Russian songs with an old Russian women. We could not communicate with words, but smiles and songs did it”.

“Despite clear description of living conditions in the village I had not truly imagined life without running water, telephones or cars. Dipping a bucket into a well, scrubbing floors with a rag on hands and knees after sweeping with a leafy branch left me feeling that we had stepped into the pages of a fairy tale. With a sense of humor our group faced even pit toilets with laughter and a jar of wildflowers for decoration. The bathing experience in a traditional banya left us not only clean, but also relaxed and culturally enriched. The expedition was even more than I hoped for. I learned not only about the fascinating folklore of Russia, but met wonderful Russian people and learned some things about myself as well". 

Marsha Lambert, Media Director, a school teacher, participated in Folklore Russian Expedition in the summer of 1997 -



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