Fun learning for local students at Russian sampler

On March 26, more than 100 students from local schools took a variety of Russia-centered classes at Colby College. The Kotlas-Waterville Area Sister City Connection and the Colby Russian Program have sponsored this day of learning about Russian culture for the past 25 years. This year’s students came from Erskine Academy, Mount Merici Academy, Messalonskee Middle School, Oak Hill Middle School, St. John School, and Waterville Junior High School.

The opening assembly featured a video presentation, which introduced students to the geography, history, government, and schools of Russia. Colby Russian Professor Elena Monastireva-Ansdell taught students their first few Russian words, which often had students laughing as they manipulated their tongues around these strange sounds. Almost all students had a chance to learn the
Cyrillic alphabet, practice some Russian conversational phrases and write their names in Russian in Russian language classes.

In February at their home schools, students pre-selected three classes. Some students chose Maine-related topics, such as the work and legacy of Samantha Smith, or the hard work of establishing of a Sister City relationship with the Waterville Area Sister City, Kotlas, Russia, at the height of the Cold War. Classes on kids’ favorite cartoons, Russian fairy tales and Russian schools give students the chance to learn about Russian life and culture and compare and contrast Russian culture with American culture.

This year we were fortunate to welcome a teacher and three high school students from Archangel, Russia, Portland’s Sister City. Teacher Inga Simonova, and students Valeria Potselueva, Liza Platova and Dasha Kozlova visited several classes and answered lots of questions about their families, friends and school curriculum.

Very popular classes had students working in the kitchen, whipping up a vegetable soup recipe or a cookie recipe. It was a treat for everyone when the cooks served their recipes to everyone at lunch time.

All the volunteer presenters and teachers from the Sister City Connection and the Colby Russian Program are firm believers in the educational value of introducing young American students to a culture so different from their own. Participating students reported that Easter Eggs are “awesome,” Russian schools are “amazingly” different from American schools and Russian Sampler is “fun learning.”

If your school might be interested in attending Russian Sampler in future years, please contact the Sister City Connection at www.kotlas.org, open the About The Connection page, use the Write To Us listing. They will answer your questions promptly.

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