Alan Kashdan, Class of 1975


1. Why did you choose Russian culture as your major?
I had been in interested in things Russian since the 6th grade, when my teacher (staunchly conservative and a supporter of Barry Goldwater) urged us to take Russian, which was offered in my junior high school.  I followed her suggestion, and through exposure to Russian culture through my high school Russian teacher (whose parents escaped Russia in the 1930s), a summer trip to Russia before starting at Princeton, and a freshman year course on Russian culture with James Billington, the choice was easy.
2. What is your most vivid memory of your college years?
Perhaps my junior year fall semester in 1973, which I spent at what was then Leningrad State University.  Studying abroad was not nearly as common then, and the Soviet Union was about as exotic and different an experience from life in the United States as one could imagine.
3. Which literary work (or any work of art) would you recommend to a newcomer who is interested in Russia, as one of the keys to Russian culture?
Without a doubt, James Billington's The Icon and the Axe.
4.Which career path did you choose, and why?
I went into law, because someone had mentioned something to me called international trade law.  I had no  idea what that actually meant, but I assumed that because it must involve something international I might be able to make a career out of it -- which I have been happily doing for over 40 years now.
5.What are you currently working on?
A mix of trade regulatory matters, including representing the Government of Canada in disputes with the United States over Canadian exports to the U.S. of a number of products, U.S. economic sanctions that apply to trade with countries such as Russia, U.S. export controls, and U.S Government review of foreign investments in the United States.
6. Are there any other comments that you'd like to add?
Nothing else, thanks.