Since childhood Polina was a member of communist youth organizations, like the Children of October and Pioneers. She sincerely believed in Pioneers’ ideology and dreamt of fighting for her country against the Western enemies. Her family travelled regularly from Leningrad to Estonia, where Polina and her younger sister cold enjoy pleasures unavailable in the USSR, like chewing gum. Her first travel abroad (to the UK in 1991) was unforgettable, especially the candy bars that she brought home and shared with all the members of her family.
- Wladimir Ilyich Lenin
- Wladimir Ilyich Lenin was the symbol of all the youth organizations: October Children, Pioneers and Komsomol. Soviet kids saw in "Grandpa Lenin" a role model but also a sort of "guardian angel".
- Postcard Text
- Dear third grader! We congratulate you with the day of the inauguration to the Pioneer Organization! We wish you the best in your studies at school and the pioneer’s life. The squad council
Polina Fomina in her grandfather's car - around 4 years old, at the beginning of the 80s. Cars, as many others common goods, was a luxury item in the Soviet Union, available only to the élite. Waiting lists were long and buying a car would cost several months of salary.
This is a an official portrait of Polina taken at school in 1986-1987. Even at a very young age Polina and her friends had the feeling that they were special, they were “the children of Perestroika”, a time of economic crises and deep changes in the country: "The dreams about become the hero-pioneer switched to hate toward the soviet regime. Dreams just transformed into opposite direction."
Polina, last on the left, in the dress of Uzbek girl. For the 1st of may, the kids are dressed in the national dresses of Soviet republics. Polina Fomina (last on the left ) is in the dress of Uzbek girl. Next to her there is a plump girl in supposedly Ukrainian dress, boy in Belarus costume and little girl in Caucasus dress (Azerbajdzhan probably). The harmony and friendship among the nationalities of the Soviet Union was one of the core values of the communist propaganda since Stalin. National celebrations were an occasion to promote this idea among the soviet children.
Dinner in the family circle. Polina his having dinner at the terrace with sister, mother and a pot of borshtch during their holidays in Estonia where they rented a dacha. Summer vacations in Estonia were reserved to the élite. Being just 200 km far, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were available mostly for people from Leningrad and surrounded region. In general people from Leningrad were considered special in other republics so Polina and their family didn't have to face nationalist tensions during their summer vacations.
In front of the Buckingham palace in 1990. During Perestoika travelling abroad became easier. In 1990 Polina went to London for a school exchange. As she recalls, this event changed her world and that of her family: "nobody could imagine before that their kid would go abroad one day!". In London she bought her first real jeans, "not an Indian copy", and the smell of washing powder everywhere became for her "the smell of freedom."
Polina Fomina with her host family. In 1990 Polina spend a few weeks in London for a school exchange. On her way back her host family made her a lunch box with a sandwich, an apple and a small chocolate bar – “snickers”. She brought the “snickers” home as a foreign delicacy, " like black caviar for a western public".