Eva Katte: "It is good to be a model, but to be an engineer is better still"
November 17 is International Student Day. This holiday is more than topical for Samara University where young people from 67 countries are studying. One of them is a student of the Institute of Aeronautical Engineering, Eva Katte from Kenya. At the beginning of November the All-Russia beauty contest “Beauty of the Russian studentship” in which 40 finest girls from different universities of the country took part ended. Our university was represented by Eva; she got through to the final round and took the commendable 6th place. It is noteworthy that she became the only foreigner out of 40 participants. This is one of the brightest examples how internationalization of the Russian education changes habitual reality.
How did the charismatic guest from Kenya manage to take such a high place? How to write an essay in Russian better than many Russian girls? What failed the student in the very final? Eva Katte told us about the hidden aspect of this competition.
- How did it happen that you came to Samara from Kenya?
- In Kenya I was studying at the institute of aviation (Technical University of Kenya). There I had a lecturer who had studied in Samara and graduated from SSAU. He recommended us this university. He said that there would be much practice there.
- And how did you make you mind?
- I have always wanted to study outside Kenya. I wanted to broaden my view of life. This was a simple decision. Moreover, two of my groupmates went to study with me.
- And was the reaction of your parents?
- They didn’t want it because I have almost graduated from my university (I was a third year student). Now I am again in the third year at the direction of training “aeronautical engineering”.
- Do you plan to return to your country after graduation from the university?
- Perhaps. I haven’t decided yet. I think that there is an opportunity for self-realization in Russia as well. This is difficult, but possible.
- How did you get to the contest “Beauty of the Russian studentship”?
- I became the winner of Samara University’s contest “Miss International” and I was suggested to represent the university at the All-Russia level. They said that beauty, talent and intelligence are important there. I had three days to think. In three days I decided that I would take part.
- What was the core of the distance stage of the competition?
- A history test took place, my portfolio, photo, certificate, student’s record book were sent. Everything must be done in two weeks before the contest that began on November 1.
When I was told that I was accepted and my portfolio got through I was very surprised because there were girls who were preparing seriously for several years. And I was doing it only for two-three weeks.
- And you are already in Vladivostok. Tell us, please, how everything was going on? What were the competitions?
- We had different competitions and some points were appointed for every of them. They were an essay, business play, presentation, self-presentation and project presentation, and creative event as well. Following the results I was among 12 finalists, among which 5 winners were chosen. I took the 6th place.
- Maybe, it was very disappointing?
- No, it wasn’t. My rivals in the final were really very strong. We also had a competition where timed questions were asked. The questions were of general erudition, i.e. about the world around us, cinema, history and in this part I didn’t succeed. While I was translating, the girls were already answering. It was forbidden to speak English.
- And was it difficult to write an essay in Russian?
- Yes! I solved this problem in the following way: made the text in English first, then translated it into Russian. I thought that nothing will be clear, but I was told that everything was all right.
- Was there a fight? Rivalry?
- No, on the contrary, we became friends there. When there was the first competition and it was necessary to press the button quickly to answer a question, we decided to answer together. And to press the button together. It was awesome. We were like a team.
We had rehearsals every day till 1 am. There we spoke and learnt each other better, made jokes.
- Maybe, you will go again next year?
- Of course, I would like, but I think that somebody else should get a chance.
I have never participated in such contests where there are several stages, many strong participants. It was a very good opportunity to reveal oneself. I love everything new, I like new sensations. In future I will be able to tell my children about it.
- In your opinion, why should girls participate in beauty contests?
- Such contests help to break stereotypes that a girl should only be beautiful. Talent and brain should also be valued in us.
- Don’t you feel homesick? There is still warmer than here?
- Yes, I do. Yes, now it’s +24-25 there.
- Do you often manage to visit homeland?
- Only in summer, but not every year. This summer I went home. And when it is hot I want to walk around Samara more.
- What was your first reaction to the snow?
- For the first time I saw snow in 2014, when I came. It was very beautiful, unforgettable. Snow is always beautiful.
- Why have you chosen the direction of training “aeronautical engineering”?
- Since childhood I have dreamt to become a pilot. I like planes very much. It was surprising for me that such big machines can fly. All my life they called me Captain Eva as “pilot” Eva.
I can become a pilot, but training is very expensive. That is why I am studying to be an aviation engineer. In this way I am closer to my dream.
- What are your interests besides studies?
- I sing, I always sing. I cannot live without music. And I do not have favourite genres. Interesting lyrics happens, and a melody itself attracts me. Now of popular music I am listening song “Eva” by group Boombox. Someone of my acquaintances suggested listening to it, because this is the song for Eva…
…A foreign guy passed by along the corridor and said hello to Eva very warmly.
- Do you communicate well with all the foreigners?
- Yes, we are all freshmen here; all are in a new country. The best way to adapt quickly is to be together.
- And who has passed by?
- This is my friend from India. I have many friends from different countries. In the first year it was, of course, very difficult without the knowledge of Russian. I said only “yes” and “no”. It’s good that foreign friends helped.
Once in a shop a cashier asked me: “Do you need a bag?” I said “No” because I didn’t understand. And when I paid, I asked for the bag. She was disturbed then. Said, what type of a girl I was. (Eva is laughing. – The editor’s remark).
- And what about university? Do you understand everything? Is it difficult for you to study?
- Now everything is normal, but in the first year we read much at home. Much must be read first on the topic of tomorrow’s class to understand everything there. Unknown words must be remembered. It turns out to be education of double complexity – first translation and study of Russian, then themes of the class. But it was better for me. I understood.
- How do you find time for everything?
- Time is really scarce, but you have to manage everything.
- What are your plans for the future now? Will you be a model?
- No, I will be an engineer. Perhaps, to be a model is not for me. If only as a hobby.
Interviewed by Kseniya Zhelovnickova (Youth Information Agency “Samara University”)