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History of Belarusian State University Dormitory No1

The native town is always full of our memories. Dormitory No1 of the Belarusian State University in Sverdlova Street will always be new for Mikhail Filistovich.

From 1959 to 1963 it became the second home for the gifted philology student. This time signified the beginning of creativity and the time of the first and eternal love. Former Head of Belarus’ State Control Committee’s Media Center, Mikhail Filistovich, still remembers how he came from Molodechno to Minsk in order to enter the main university of the country.

At that time the faculty of philology consisted of three departments: the faculty of journalism, the Russian language and literature faculty, and the Belarusian language and literature faculty.

In the 60s, the main entrance to the dormitory was closed, so students got there through the courtyard.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
Of course, we didn’t have gating system, we were free to enter anytime, nobody had to give an account, nobody closed the doors. In 1961, front-line soldier, Hero of the Soviet Union, General Kirsanov was appointed vice-chancellor of the maintenance department. He established a gating system. Special folders with the names of the dormitory’s residents in the alphabetical order were started, where philologists just in jest often added some unflattering epithets near some names. Nevertheless, we didn’t have any janitors, we kept watch ourselves according to a schedule.

Trams used to thunder in this street. However, the building, where future cultural elite lived, almost hasn’t changed. Only comfortable rooms have superseded attic rooms on the fourth floor.

The hall where students spent evenings playing table tennis was quite modest. During holidays it was loud here, students arranged dance and listened to then-contemporary records. Future well-known reporter Aleksandr Radutsky played the guitar. Journalist Aleksandr Kitayev took an active part in these events too.

At that time people were able to value time, feel taste for life, study and relax.

They were creative, lived on the same friendly wave, and many graduates later became stars of Belarusian press and science.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
In 1961 Gagarin, and then other astronauts made spaceflights. I wrote a short story named ‘I have a cosmic name’ during my vacation in Molodechno. I sent it to the republican radio. Then I received a job offer. I was taught to use a photographic camera and travelled a lot working as a non-staff correspondent at the republican radio during my studies for last three academic years.

Many good articles, poems, stories were written by students. From the first academic year, they looked for a job and many became editors. Their works were published in local newspapers Znamya Yunosti, Chyrvonaya Zmena, journals Maladost and Polymya. Students spoke on the radio and got fees.

Mikhail Filistovich admits competitiveness among journalists, which encouraged development. However, they were like one family, skiing in Ratomka sports center and harvesting potatoes in autumn.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
This room is now divided into three separate sections and a utility module, but that time it was one room, where future freshmen-journalists lived. They were soldiers. That’s why this room was called guardsmen's room. My classmate and future well-known author Anatoly Kudrovets with future staff correspondent of newspaper Izvestiya Mikhail Shimansky lived here.

Students could not even dream about a cooker or a refrigerator in guardsmen's room. The dormitory had two parts: one for boys and one for girls. There were two kitchens on both ends of the corridor. It’s clear, that girls cooked, while boys were too lazy for it. Fortunately, they had a coin-operated snack bar nearby. Boys had there both breakfast and dinner. Space between glass panes was used as a refrigerator. It was full of food after New Year celebration, when students came back from villages with treats.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
My neighbour, nice poet, at present professor Vladimir Markhel treated me. Common washbasins and a lavatory were situated at the end of the corridor. These were all the facilities we had. However, nobody complained, because many of students didn’t have such at home.

At that time, every room had upper shelves, where literary men left their belongings, before leaving for vacation. Mikhail Filistovich kept there his suitcase with his suits for interviews and for performances with ensemble Kryzhachok.

The dormitory’s second floor layout has changed substantially. Once instead of these three rooms there was one small, so-called Lenin’s room, where students gathered evenings. They read newspapers and watched television. Boys looked forward to ice hockey matches with the participation of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union national teams. The whole dormitory supported them.

Lenin’s room was also a place where student weddings were held.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
Many Minsk residents visited us as guests. My classmate poetess Vera Verba (née Markova) won recognition being first-year student, after her poem ‘U subbotu Yanka yehau lia raki’ (‘Yanka went along the river on Saturday’) was published. Also Zhanna Kasperovich (married name Dapkiunas) visited her friends. She is a relative of the Belarusian poet Yanka Kupala and now she heads State Literary Museum of Yanka Kupala. The Belarusian poet Ryhor Baradulin was among guests too. Some works of students became folklore and were passed through the generations by word of mouth.

There were also friendly students from Poland and Canada. To Minsk dandies’ joy a Canadian handed his overseas clothes out to classmates before leaving for vacation.

Faculty girls were renowned for their beauty and erudition, which is why they had many friends and admirers. Among them were Cubans, who helped girls by cleaning the streets on Subbotnik (voluntary Saturday working day).

Mikhail Filistovich met his wife before entering the university. And fate decreed that they be neighbours in the dormitory.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
Now there is no any door, but that time there was an adjoining room where my future spouse lived. She was one year younger. I lived in room 316 (now it’s room 311) during my senior year. My neighbour was a brother of writer Boris Sachenko. Third-year student Ivan Sachenko then became a professor, head of faculty of journalism. He married my classmate Larisa Petrovskaya.

In early spring, students gathered on the dormitory’s roof for sunbathing, listened to then-popular Robertino Loreti, evenings played volleyball and nights returned from dates and wrote texts. It was great time without any incidents. Nevertheless, there was one case covered in Minsk press.

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
There was only one accident with Rostislav, a brother of Belarusian writer Ivan Melezh. He was a talented artist and drew for us entrance tickets to football games at Dinamo stadium.

After graduation Mikhail Filistovich had been working as country school head in Vileyka District for five years and then he came back in Minsk.

Every time has its own generation. The only man who had a car was the chancellor.

Life was modest, but cordial and happy. Postwar Minsk was filled with Renaissance mood and hope for better future. 

Mikhail Filistovich, Candidate of Historical Sciences:
It was time of friendliness and team spirit. We didn’t have computers, Internet and other things that separate people. If anyone came back too late because of a date or any other reason, we reached our floor through the window and then kitchen, in order not to be noticed at the entrance.

Belarusian State University Dormitory No1