Students join Sochi Olympic construction

Russian students spending their hot summer days on the Black Sea coast - building railroads and tunnels! The youngsters are involved in constructing facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Engineering students from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don have chosen to spend their summer vacation learning how to build a railroad – in Sochi, host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

They get paid about $500 a month, and board and lodging are free – but they have to like what they do, and be good team players.

”You have to work with great joy, and put your soul into your work,” student construction team member Pavel Dyatlov says.

For many students, this project is not only about money or personal development, as the construction site is a part of the future Sochi Olympic expressway. When the southern Russian city holds the 2014 Winter Games, the 50-kilometer stretch of railroad and highway will be a vital link.

Many students consider the Olympics to be crucial for Russia's image.

”I think it's important for us to host the Olympics, and that our country is going through a revival after the fall of the USSR in the ’90s. With this project we are getting more prestige in the world,” says Evgeny Abubakarov, a student construction team leader.

Student workers in modern Russia say they would like to share the legacy of the Baikal-Amur Mainline rail project (BAM). It was built in the 1970 and ’80s by young enthusiasts, who traveled far from home to live and work in sub-zero temperatures.

It took them 28 years to construct more than 4,000 kilometers of track, running parallel to the famous Trans-Siberian railway.

However, times change, and these youngsters may have different goals and motivation than the BAM generation.

”Perhaps in the future we'll reach the heights that past generations have reached. But now everything is in the hands of these student construction teams. There are not as many people who want to join them now, but they are equally eager to work,” Pavel Bogateev from the Student Construction Teams Union says.

As the student construction teams get together in Sochi, they meet up with people from other distant parts of Russia. It will be a hot summer for most of them – but also a time to remember.

So far, only 200 students have arrived in Sochi to help build the Olympic facilities. But at the current stage of preparations, even this number makes a difference.

All the students will have graduated by 2014, and will most likely become honored guests at the Sochi Winter Games.