You’re from Russia; why did you come to Singapore?
I was invited to work at the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a research assistant. Then, back at Nanyang Technological University, I did my Master’s degree in International Relations, in Chinese Studies. My background is actually in Chinese Studies. “我教中文.” (laughs) “一点点, 一点点.” (“I taught Mandarin; just a little.”) Then I joined NUS as a project manager.
Did you visit any places in China?
Yeah, I lived in Beijing. It was a one year exchange programme, and we studied in the 首都师范大学 (Capital Normal University). It was a very interesting experience. It was one of the first times that I lived quite far away from my family. In fact, I’m still in touch with all of my friends whom I met there, and it was ages ago, back in 2010.
One thing that I can’t live without in my wardrobe:
A black tuxedo. I like tuxedo suits. I’m a big fan of Yves Saint Laurent, who was a master and a great fashion designer. He was the first one to dress women in a man’s tuxedo. He did it back in the 1960s, and at the time women couldn’t even dress in trousers if they wanted to go for dinner at a restaurant or to work. I’m really fascinated by his invention. I’m also a big fan of Hubert Givenchy, who used to dress Audrey Hepburn. He’s a French designer as well, and him and Saint Laurent came out pretty much at the same time, but Givenchy, till the very end of his career, dressed more high-level personalities. Saint Laurent, on the other hand, was the one who launched prêt-à-porter, because he saw that the world was changing and women couldn’t afford to dress in expensive clothes and go to work every day, but they still wanted good quality clothes that you can buy anywhere.
If you were to give a speech to the world, what would you say to them?
Stop the war. I would create a big, big speech, about how people need to think about others, and start appreciating and accepting our differences. The differences are what make us more beautiful. I mean, I need to create a comprehensive speech for this, but I’d probably try to say that when we read the news, it can seem like there’s a load of information and we’re overwhelmed with it. But we can understand that the whole world needs unity at the moment to stop the biggest crisis that we’ve got—around the Middle-East and in some developing countries.