Midwest Slavic Conference (Service) – April 7th (10:00-12:00 p.m.)

I decided this semester I would volunteer at an event that is not something I would have ever known about. I was excited to see that an event like this was happening in a department I am not familiar with and that it fit into my schedule, so I signed up. I never studied much about the Slavic region and haven’t had the opportunity to meet with anyone from this department so I felt I would gain a lot from attending this event!

I was informed that every year the Midwest Slavic Association and CSEES partner together to host the Midwest Slavic Conference. Presenters can be anyone from undergraduate and graduate students, independent researchers and professors from all across the United States and oversees. There are about thirty panels with about two hundred attendees from various accredited universities and colleges. They have been holding this conference here on Ohio State University’s campus for nearly two decades and everyone seems to enjoy having it here.

I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Pfahl Hall , which is where the conference was being held over on North campus. There was an abundance of people from all across the United States and even from around the globe. There were so many professors, graduate and undergraduate students and respected researchers in their fields sharing information with one another that they have gathered over the past year. Everyone there had so much knowledge about Eastern Europe and the Slavic region and it showed in their impressive presentations.

I volunteered for the last shift of the conference, which was on Sunday the seventh of April, and there was a lighter crowd than the previous day, so I was told. It seemed like there was about a hundred or so people that were still there presenting and listening to the last few panels. Since there was not much checking in and registrations that needed to be done, we were tasked to help pack up a little and were free to listen to the panels that were running.

The main panel me and the other volunteer, Grace, went to had multiple speakers presenting their research. There were a couple graduate students, professors and independent researchers in the crowd and some of them presented through the last hour. There was a graduate student from Oxford, Phillip Decker, and he discussed about Eastern Germany post World War II. He mainly focused on the end of the 1950s to the early 60s and outlined the rising fame of Dean Reed in respect to Eastern Germany in this time. Dean Reed was a man born in Colorado and wanted to venture to the entertainment business so he moved to Hollywood. He was not gaining much success in the United States, but he was in South America so he went on a brief tour there.

Reed started to gain a communist mindset while in South America which caused his deportation. He made his way around Europe and the former Soviet Union before permanently staying in Eastern Germany. Reed was the main character in many spaghetti western / cowboy movies which was of much interest to the Germans. They portrayed Americans as cowboys that had little respect and no care in the world. Reed promoted communist propaganda through these spaghetti western films and became well known in Germany.

I was glad to have the chance to learn about Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union by these amazing panelists. Philip and the other researchers allowed me to expand on my knowledge on the slavic regions and gave me much inspiration. These people are all recognized and respected in their fields and were given this platform to share their work. I want to be able to attend more events like this and be have the opportunity to share my own research. I am glad to have been able to attend this event and may come back next year!