April 16, 2001
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass. - Ten years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, five college professors who once lived under various kinds of communist rule in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Americas will discuss their experiences on Monday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College.

Four of the professors teach at Amherst. Antonio Benitez-Rojo, the Thomas B. Walton, Jr., Professor of Spanish was born in Cuba, received his B.A. from the Institutio de Education Superior in Havana in 1950, and left Cuba 11 years after the Communist revolution in 1959.

Ute Brandes, professor of German, hails from the former German Democratic Republic where she went to school up to 10th grade. Threatened with political persecution, her family fled to West Germany.

Hua R. Lan, director of the Chinese language Program and senior lecturer in Asian languages and culture, was born in China and received his higher education in Shanghai. Before he came to the USA in the early 80s, he lived through the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in Beijing, where he taught for many years at the Beijing Language and Cultural University.

Pavel Machala, professor of political science, was born in Czechoslovakia and studied at Charles University in Prague, where he was a student leader during the Prague Spring of 1968, emigrating to the United States soon after the Warsaw Pact invasion of that year.

Constantine Pleshakov, a visiting assistant professor of Russian studies at Mount Holyoke College and the author of Inside the Kremlin's Cold War (1996), comes from the former Soviet Union, where he taught at the Russian Academy of Sciences until 1996.

Adam Nagorski, a junior at Amherst and the president of the Foreign Policy Forum, says that "the European communist governments collapsed before most of today's students were even in high school. Hopefully, this forum will not only make the existence of those states a less distant memory but also reveal the true nature of life in past and present communist societies."

This event is sponsored by the Foreign Policy Forum at Amherst College, a student organization that seeks to raise awareness of, and promote intelligent and informed debate about, contemporary international issues. The forum has a Website at http://www.amherst.edu/~fpforum.