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Russian exposure

hen Margaret Warner Facer ’72 read the article about the Hollybush Summit in our summer ’97 issue, she started reminiscing and shared her story with us.

Warner Facer was one of 15 good-will ambassadors from Glassboro who traveled to Russia a few months after the Summit for a three-week cultural exchange. They were treated to lavish banquets, the finest performers and all the pomp and circumstance befitting heads of state, including being followed by the press.

During the group’s tour, Warner Facer snapped photographs of everything that caught her eye, from an ordinary produce market to an extravagant display of military hardware. On the last day of her trip on the Volga River, her boat stopped at the beautiful town of Rostov-on-Don. “The marketplace looked like a Rembrandt,” said Warner Facer. “It was a tapestry of color and I took pictures of everything.”

She noticed a Russian woman mending a sock on a hand-operated sewing machine. She was so enchanted by the woman’s skill, she took a picture. Then, out of nowhere, a well-dressed man began pointing his finger at her and her camera and accusing her of something in Russian. She was quickly ushered to a local police station for questioning. “It was a stark, one-room building with a bare light bulb hanging down from the ceiling,” said Warner Facer.

After a few minutes of questioning by the police hampered by their language barrier, she was released. Apparently the Soviet government frowned on foreigners taking pictures of their machinery—even if it was just an old manual sewing machine.
Back in the U.S., Warner Facer’s international incident made the papers. As an English teacher, she had to face students for years later who insisted she “tell us about your arrest in Russia.”

from spring ’98

 
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