Pro Speak: Slow Going but Growing
Spasiba. That's Russian for "thank you." It's the one word I got really good at saying while walking around Moscow. I'm big on appreciation, and live my life in a grateful way, so it seemed fitting that I would be thanking people halfway across the world when I visited them.
In October 2009, I had the distinct privilege of being invited to speak at the annual gathering of the Master School for Fundraising in Moscow. The Master School is sort of the go-to organization right now for nonprofits in Russia. I was invited to speak there after Master School Director Tatiana Burmistrova attended one of my sessions at the Association of Fundraising Professionals conference in New Orleans last spring. Needless to say, I said, "Yes!"
To understand what a big deal this was, you need to understand a few things about me. First, I had never had a passport and, obviously, had never been out of the country before. Second, I don't speak Russian. Third, while I was very excited to visit Russia, I also was a bit nervous about being in a different country.
But I gathered my passport application and all my courage and set about making plans ?for the trip for my husband ?and me.
It was a 10-hour flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Moscow. We arrived a bit bleary-eyed and were greeted at the airport by Tatiana. She was the most gracious hostess and spent two days showing us all around Moscow, including Red Square, the Kremlin and the first Soviet McDonald's. It was a dream visit — we had a native who spoke fluent English to show us around the city and give us all the inside scoop. She told us about how life had changed since the fall of the communist government and how the world of fundraising there is growing and evolving.