Ludmila Petrovna is the head of ИИЯ, the department I "work" for at the university. I forget whether I mentioned her here before, but I don't think I did.
Basically, she scares the pants off me.
She's a very commanding person, and the first time I met her (under less-than-favorable circumstances, since at the time no one, least of all me, knew what I was doing here) I actually thought she hated me. In fact, she didn't - she just has a very no-nonsense demeanor and that peculiar Russian(?) conversation style that only permits one person (namely, her) to ever say anything.
Anyway, I was in the department today when I ran into her. She informed me that she needed to talk to me after I was done with what I was doing. Uh-oh. I figured I was about to get canned, or at least chewed out for not being a good English teacher or being underqualified or something. I can see Ludmila Petrovna really ripping into someone if she found out they weren't doing their job.
No such luck. In reality, Ludmila Petrovna (a phonologist herself) heard through the grapevine that my "specialty" in college was phonology. She wanted to know if I would be willing to give a talk on phonological research to the department. In addition to discussing my research interests, it would be nice if I could also talk a bit about what I think the most important areas of phonological research are at the present time. Because of the title of this post, I agreed.
I am, perhaps, slightly more qualified to give this talk than a potato would be. But only slightly. The fact that phonology was NOT my specialty (although my senior project could, I guess, be considered phonological in nature) only scratches the surface of the multitude of reasons why, in the USA, I would not be considered qualified to give this talk.
We were warned about our "lecture appeal" at our orientation; a recent Fulbrighter to Estonia told us about how he found himself scheduled to give a lecture on Che Guevara. His hosts just assumed that, being American, he must know a lot about Che Guevara. (No, I don't follow the logic there, either.) I believe he used Wikipedia to get through it. At the time, I was terrified that something like that would happen to me. Now, I just find it hilarious.
In other news: Thanks, Ronli and Denise! I got my birthday cards from both of you today. It felt like my birthday all over again!