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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Interiors: Willing Slave to Slavonic Scholarship

One would expect a scholar of Old Church Slavonic to have a distinctly Russian living space, as opposed to the white-walled, renovated flats favored by most foreigners. David Patton's apartment does not disappoint. The two-room flat on Leninsky Prospekt is modest and cozy, reflecting the lifestyle of someone who is used to and enjoys living in Russia. The flowered wallpaper and corduroy sofa are clearly veterans of many years, and the refrigerator is plugged into a convertor, having been manufactured at a time when Moscow was still on 110 voltage. Only the stereo, guitar and linguistics books betray the active presence of the apartment's tenants: Patton, the coordinator for exchange and training for the U.S. Agency for International Development's program for Newly Independent States, and his wife, Cathy Wilson, a coordinator for a U.S. government-funded educational exchange project. Patton, 33, is simultaneously working for his PhD in Slavic linguistics at Ohio State University. His research concerns the interrelationship between Church Slavonic and the Russian vernacular during medieval times. He called the exchange program "ambitious," saying that its goals are to send 2,000 professionals -- in fields ranging from housing to economics -- to the United States for training by September. Patton has been traveling to Russia regularly since 1983, when he was in Moscow as an undergraduate student. Reflecting on some of his stranger experiences over the years in Russia, he said his fondness for the Russian language has caused him trouble in the past. When he was a student, his Russian friends used to spend evenings telling political jokes, many of which he recorded verbatim in a notebook. On a weekend trip to Helsinki, border guards discovered the notebook, left in his rucksack by accident. "They laughed and they laughed, and then they said, 'This is very serious,'" he said. He spent 1 1/2 hours being interrogated. After a half-hearted attempt to obtain his confession to transporting anti-Soviet propaganda, the guards released him without penalty.True Confessions Misses most about home: Chinese food and a motorcycle: "I miss the mobility." What the U.S. could learn from Russia: How to be less wasteful. "Russians have had a unique approach to a non-disposable society." Favorite place around Moscow: Archangelskoye. Would like to meet: The Russian special envoy, Vitaly Churkin. "At a time when people were losing their heads and giving themselves away to nationalism he kept his head." Number of former Soviet republics visited: Nine. Currently reading: "Moskovskaya Rech," by Sergei Kotkov: "It's about the formation of Russian national language." Most worrying changes in Russia during past few years: "A live for today attitude" and declining investment in the educational system.