... Alyona Rondakova
Interviewed by Daria Plaksunova, Tanya Medvedeva

Text: Alexandra Sinitsyna
Translation prepared by Deniza Alieva

Thanks to Alyona Rondakova, we met Sergey Korobov. From a conversation with her, we learn what it is like to be the wife of a polar explorer and how dad's unusual profession is perceived in the family. Let's also look at Antarctica through the eyes of an artist!

Alyona Rondakova with her husband Sergey Korobov, the head of the polar stations
Artist, illustrator of children's books
— Alyona, please say a few words about what you do.

— I am an illustrator. I love watercolor and oil, now I am mastering digital illustration. I also teach - I give lectures on art history, I give master classes for children and adults.
The ship "Akademik Fedorov" in the ice next to Antarctica
Illustration by Alyona Rondakova
— How did you come to illustrate children's books? How did it all start? What was the first book?

— I came to children's illustration not so long ago. I participated in the Instagram marathon with my works - there Dasha Plaksunova noticed me and recommended me to the publishing house as an illustrator. Now I have illustrated seven children's books. The first were four books "Reading Simulator" - a series of stories about two children - Nika and Dima.

— Do you remember the day when you learned that your husband was going to Antarctica? What was your reaction?

— When I met Sergey, he had already been on expeditions. At first, we only corresponded on the Internet: Sergey was then in Antarctica, and I lived in Samara. Sergey sent me some of the most beautiful photographs, and I stuck to them. I became very interested in everything about this continent, about expeditions, about people who spend the winter there. It was like getting a message from another planet! Sergey turned out to be an excellent storyteller with a great sense of humor, a lover of theater and literature. He is also a strong, kind and reliable person.

I had a difficult period in my life, he had an extreme wintering... Long story short, he returned, we met, and it all ended with me moving to Moscow, our wedding and a dizzying journey to the island of Bali. Then our daughter was born. Now we are a big and united family.

I understood that my husband has a love for Antarctica for a long time. No need to compete with it and remake a loved one.

"Akademik Fedorov" at the South Pole
Illustration by Alyona Rondakova
— How does the fact that daddy have an unusual profession affect the family? Probably, children are terribly interested? But at the same time, isn't it difficult to be apart for so long during expeditions? Tell us more.

— Of course, long separations are difficult. All everyday issues, raising children, accompanying them to trainings and to tutors during Sergey's trips fall on me - and I also want to become successful in my profession. But we are all proud of our polar explorer and look forward to his return. When he returns, we travel a lot, we try to have a quality and interesting time with the whole family.

Many are surprised when they find out how long we have been apart. But what standards can there be if the family is happy? We have it like this, and we try to keep it safe.

Alyona and Sergey's family
— Would you like to visit Antarctica and draw there, make sketches, sketches with diaries?

— I really want to visit Antarctica! Sergey talks about it in an incredibly interesting way. The fauna of this continent fascinates me. I wish I could see all this with my own eyes! My dream is to make an endless number of sketches with an ice landscape - to pick up thousands of shades of blue and white! Disconnect from the hustle and bustle and just meditate, listening to the quiet melting of age-old ice. And I also want to show this beauty to children! Maybe someday it will come true.

In the meantime, I am drawing Antarctica, inspired by the stories and photographs of Sergey. These works are printed on postcards - Sergey takes them with him as souvenirs to give to foreign colleagues.

Unloading the ship at Progress station
Illustration by Alyona Rondakova
— Do children need to know more about Antarctica? Is this topic covered enough in books and on TV?

— Of course, children need and it is important to know as much as possible in general about the planet - our common home, and about Antarctica as a part of it. So far, this is the purest and least explored corner of the Earth. The most beautiful, harsh, unique! Knowledge about nature instills love for it, helps to realize its fragility. And also, if the child is carried away by this, he can connect his life with the preservation, study of nature. As a mother, I see the real interest of children in this knowledge. However, it is important to present it to them brightly and entertainingly.

I am very glad that such an interesting educational project for children has appeared, like your project "Antarctica". We are looking forward to the release of books!

— Alyona, thank you! What would you wish our future readers and everyone who visits our site and is not indifferent to Antarctica?

— Goodness, strong health. And also - love and care for the world around us, nature, the planet. Love your job dearly and do not be discouraged!

— Alyona, thank you for the conversation and for sharing the wonderful works!

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