On December 23, Sonoma State’s outspoken professor of Russian will be guiding nine students on a 22-day tour of Russia, which will take in Kiev, Leningrad, Moscow and Rega in Latvia, before returning January 21.
This will be a special trip for Dr. Arnold, because it will be her first in a long time and the first ever to Leningrad, the ancient home of the Czars 54..(St. Petersburg) and the reputed cultural center of all Russia.
The tour will cost the SSC students $750 apiece and includes everything from hotel accommodations, food, transportation in Russia and return fare to New York.
This is a great opportunity for my students, seven of them who are girls, they will be able to practice their Russian and gain masses of experience which we will pool together and compare.
The students will have ample time to strike out on their own, within the limit of their schedules, thus being guaranteed with maximum exposure of the ordinary Russian in the street.
The professor an energetic lady with graying hair and vivacious Russian eyes, has led an adventurous life enough to satisfy the-lust of a good many people.
The eldest of three born to Benjamin and Hilda Furman, the professor was steeped in Russian culture since her early days, as both her parents were immigrants from that troubled country.
Her father Benjamin was a shoemaker by trade, but had to give it up because when he first landed in Massachusetts, the business was in the hands of Italians. He couldn’t find a job.
Later he moved to Baltimore where he joined the Garment Workers Union and was instrumental in leading that union into the 1924 strike.
“My father was an idealistic communist, resolved to make the plight of the working classes more bearable,” said Dr. Arnold, “a wonderful man who later became so disillusioned with his ideals.”
In 1924 the elder Furman organized and led the strike. In the melee, a brick was thrown and it struck Furman a severe blow.
“My father was fined $25 for his part in the struggle and later was black-listed,” said Dr. Arnold. “This was what eventually forced him to take that big move to Russia.”
The story of Dr. Arnold and her family in Russia would someday make very interesting reading, the privations that they experienced almost from the very beginning when they set foot on Russian soil.
Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.