Moscow ELO and Vladivostok PAO Engage Audiences in Nakhodka
On October 17 Moscow ELO and Vladivostok PAO made the journey to Nakhodka to meet local English language teachers and Nakhodka Access students. The ELO shared with a group of local English language teachers some practical techniques that they can use in their classrooms as well as materials, resources, and opportunities available through the Office of English Language Programs. Following the talk for teachers, the ELO and PAO were treated to a number of presentations by Access students that highlighted what they have been doing in their program and giving them the opportunity to showcase their English language skills. The trip concluded with a guided tour by the Access students of the many wonderful local attractions in Nakhodka.
Eight Russian Access Teachers began their Teacher Training Program in the U.S.
On November 1, 2014, after four exhausting flights a group of Russian Access teachers finally arrived at their destination Fayetteville, Arkansas, to participate in the Access Teacher Trainer workshops at the University of Arkansas. The next morning they woke to find Dr. Leyah Bergman- Lanier, coordinator of the program, and her husband Kirk making a picnic breakfast for them all in the front yard. Thus the teachers’ acquaintance with America began with warm bagels and the even warmer smiles of the hosts. In the afternoon they met their instructors who organized some team building activities so that all participants could get to know each other. After an hour of fun games it felt like one big international family. In the evening there was an event at Dr. Lanier's home to meet SILC faculty and the staff of international Buddies. With lots of food, fun, laughter and positive emotions, it was a great beginning of a great trip. On November 4th, there were presentations of Access programs in different countries. Yevgenia Kudryavtseva, Access teacher from Samara. Commented, “I did not know before that Access schools work under such awful conditions - I mean national misunderstanding between different parts of one country. In this situation Access schools can be really helpful to unite at least teenagers, teach them to solve problems by discussing things. I am sure it is of great importance for peace in the world and hope all our participants understand that.”
Samara Access alumni First Time on the Alumni Club
On November 22, American programs alumni club hold a meeting with Alumni coordinator Irina Novikova. It was the first time Access alumni took part in such a meeting. They got a lot of info on resources and programs supported by the US government.
Access students celebrate Halloween 2014 in Russia
Students at Access sites across Russia enthusiastically celebrated Halloween. They were carving jack-o-lanterns, doing various Halloween-related activities in English, preparing skits, writing scary stories. There were both treats and tricks! More site-specific information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/AccessRU
Russian Access Camps 2014
The 2014 Russia Access summer camping season has come to a close. Twenty-two camps, both in-city and out-of-city, took place in various cities and towns all over Russia. Twelve Americans participated in the camps this year to add invaluable face-to-face interaction and provide exposure to “real” Americans and American culture. The Americans attending camps this year were represented by Embassy staff (CAO, consular and political sections representatives), Fellows, ETAs, and the American Councils director. Most of the Access teachers, coordinators and counselors who worked with Access campers this year are alumni of various USG exchange programs. This model ensures a real synergy between exchange programs. Just add a communicative camp curriculum incorporating the study of American English and American culture through sports, games, technology, movies, songs, leadership skills, civic and environmental education – and the outcome is about 500 happy campers, real leaders, with improved English language proficiency and desire to learn more about the U.S.!
Access in Russia Develops Program Handbook
Elena Babina, Access coordinator in Gubkin, Russia, and an alumna of the TEA and E-teacher programs, developed a Handbook on Access Program in Russia, titled “Future Change Makers”. The handbook contains materials on Access best practices, samples of training events schedules, camp ideas, and useful links. It was warmly received by Access teachers from 22 sites and will be reprinted with lots of additional materials that the teachers think useful for Access program.
Russian Access Students Celebrate “Talk like a Pirate Day”
Access students in Samara, Russia celebrated “Talk like a Pirate Day” on September 19th. Together with Access alums from the 2010-2012 cohort, students studied some basic information about pirates and the history of “Talk like a Pirate Day.” The real fun began when students gave themselves pirates names and gave reasons why. They spoke about countries they visited and the oceans they sailed. It was a very unusual Pirates Day! After a discussion about pirates and their stories, the students came to a decision that they would like to be different kind of pirates. Anti-pirates! Pirates that would like to help people and to be rescuers. That is why they gave themselves names like Mike Free Eagle, Julia Free Dolphin, Anna the Light, Lada Easy-Speaker, Anastasia Light Foot, Nadia Strong Arm, Vika Fast Foot, and so on. All this was facilitated by our wonderful Access teacher in Samara, Scary Yulia Broken Leg.
Kazan Access Students Celebrate International Day for Tolerance
On Nov 16, 2014 Dinara Galiullina, Kazan Access alumna of the first generation, FLEX program participant and former FLEX alumni coordinator for Upper Volga region, who actively volunteers for Access projects, came to talk about tolerance and share her experience in taking part in "Lessons in Kindness" project. Some of Access students got inspired by this example and decided to write their own stories, they also made a poster dedicated to "International Day for Tolerance".
Samara Access Students Greet Embassy Speaker
On November 21, 2014, Cheryl Dunn, documentary filmmaker and photographer based in New York City, who came to Russia at the invitation of the U.S. Embassy Speakers’ Program, met with Access teachers and students in Samara. She visited Access school and made a presentation on her documentary Everybody Street. This film illuminates the lives and work of New York’s street photographers. Cheryl’s presentation focused on the photos connected with the topics interesting to teens. Access students got really interested in the topics discussed and actively participated, demonstrating good level of English and interest to American culture.
Access Students in Siberia Celebrate World Kindness Day
On November 13, 2014, Access students in Berdsk, a small town in Siberia, celebrated World Kindness Day by making a list of kind things they would love to do. The idea of the activity was to help students to see good in others and to raise awareness of how we are acting toward our family members and friends. Some items on the students’ list were: Feed homeless animals, Organize celebrations in primary school, Clean snow around the house, Help my mother at dacha.
Access Russia conducts Language and Leadership Training in Orlyonok
Ninety Access students, 3 counselors-alumni of US sponsored programs (FLEX and Access), and 6 teachers participated in language and leadership training at the premier Russian children’s center “Orlyonok” on the Black Sea cost on October 6-27, 2014. The campers spent three weeks developing their English language and leadership skills, and working on various community and volunteer projects. Three alumni of the USG programs were with the students telling them about their exchange experience and speaking as much English as possible throughout the day. This training provided a unique opportunity for Access students and teachers from 9 various locations in Russia to meet each other and share Access experiences. The English Language Office of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the National Association of Teachers of English have been supporting this activity for five years and 520 students had already visited “Orlyonok”. The friendships between Access students that started there last far beyond the time in “Orlyonok” and they stay in touch through social media. The highlight of the first days of the training was an event devoted to Access students’ home cities and cultures. Students presented in English on cultural and cross-cultural issues, sang songs and danced. Another highlight was "Neversmila", a joint creative project developed by Access and camp staff as a special gift for American guests who came to Orlyonok on the Campers-to-Campers Program. Participants of the international program were actively involved in the performance. The Orlyonok administration provided opportunities for several Access students with special needs to participate in the program. The Dialogue of Cultures Orlyonok program is a unique opportunity for Access students from different parts of Russia to get together and enjoy an exciting atmosphere of friendship, cooperation and creativity.
Chelyabinsk Access Talks about American Holidays with their Virtual Intern
Chelyabinsk Access students conducted a skype session with their virtual intern devoted to Russian and American holidays. They learned several idioms about the turkey, main Thanksgiving dish, they listened to the song by Sarah Connor “Be thankful”, and shared their blessings. As an activity for the Halloween, they also guessed horror films listening to the songs and watching the video clips. Students had fun (and learned a lot!) comparing the way people celebrate Christmas, New Year and other holidays in Russia and America.
Virtual Alumni Project Continues in Birobidzhan
Last year virtual alumni project was launched in Birobidzhan. The project was over in May 2014, but the friendship that started there between the Access students and American virtual alumni project participant Gwyn Snider, a university student from Oregon and Birobidzhan Access Skype partner, continues! Gwyn participated in the Access summer camp and now wishes all the Access students and teachers a Happy Halloween!
Virtual Intern Project Starts in Samara
On October 10th, Samara Access students had two Skype meetings with American university students who volunteered to serve as virtual interns. The participants introduced themselves and discussed their hobbies and studies, and asked and answered questions about their native cities and travel. The goal of the virtual intern program is for the Access students, many of whom live in underserved areas of Russia, to have a chance to interact with an American. On Friday October 24th, Access students had the second skype session with Claire and Dawn. This time another group, Group C, also had prepared presentations, and studied the information about the two Americans to get ready for the meeting. The topic of the meeting was "My Native Land.” Both sides prepared a short quiz about their city\states. Our students got new information about California and Chicago and our new friends learned some facts about Samara. The students understood how important it is to share information and opinions. One Access girl happened to participate in the skype meeting for the second time. She said it was much easier to understand the native speakers during the second meeting. October 28, there was one more skype meeting of the virtual project. The theme of the session was "Youth Problems.” Virtual interns, Claire and Dawn, sent photos and a presentation to illustrate the discussion. Access students came to the conclusion that teenagers have many similar problems both in Russia and the USA. Samara Access teachers coordinating the project are very thankful to their American partners and to ELO for this unique opportunity.
Chelyabinsk Access Launched Virtual Intern Project
On October 20, Chelyabinsk Access successfully launched a virtual intern project. Access teachers and students in Chelyabinsk, Russia are working with three American students: Danielle, Marisa, and Ella. According to the Access students, “they are nice and positive”. Skype sessions are held three times a week and focus on the following topics: Stereotypes about America and Russia, Russian and American symbols, Famous American and Russian people, How Holidays are Celebrated in each Country, Sports in the United States and Russia, Education in Russia and U.S. , Academic and Career Plans, Pop culture in Russia and the United States, Food in the United States and Russia, National Parks, How Green are You?
The topic of the first session was “Meeting New Friends”. It was really interesting and fun for students. Russian students also invited their new American friends to take a virtual tour of Chelyabinsk city.
Gubkin Access Virtual Intern Project
On October 16, Gubkin Access students had four Skype sessions with virtual intern Luke Wolf. The first discussion was about films, the second one about music. It was one of the students idea to practice not only speaking but writing skills. The plan is to use both Skype and Facebook to implement this idea. After each session, it is the students’ task to summarize the discussion they took part in or create a presentation on the topic discussed.
Cherepovets Access Students Celebrate Thanksgiving
Two groups of Chrepovets Access students had a great trip to a small town of Ustyuzhna to celebrate Thanksgiving with their third group there. The students had a city tour in English, went to the local lore museum and had short classes and a festive dinner with traditional turkey and pumpkin pie. There was also a concert and a disco. Two American teachers participated in this activity as well, and it was really interesting to teens as they could ask questions and find out the answers first hand. The students came up with an idea of staying in touch via social media during winter school break and have some fun activities in English.
Samara Access Students Celebrate Thanksgiving
Access classes in Samara on Thursday, November 27, were devoted to Thanksgiving Day. During the party students got a lot of information about the holiday and did a Thanksgiving quiz. Funny songs, thankful words, lots of smiles and a sweet dessert instead of a protected by nature lovers turkey made the activity useful and enjoyable.
Russian Access Teachers Enjoy Workshop on U.S. Culture in Exchange Program at the University of Arkansas
On November 5-7, workshop participants discussed historical perspectives of American culture and what the concepts of freedom and equality really mean for Americans. They also investigated the communication styles of Americans in comparison with other cultures in terms of what is acceptable and unacceptable for them. This workshop was followed by a challenging homework assignment in which participants had to create a survey and interview Americans on campus and around the town Fayetteville. Tatiana Rumyantseva, Access teacher from Rostov-on-Don, enjoyed the session on teaching and especially liked instructor’s comment that teachers should have “engaged minds and hearts,” meaning that they need to be both professional and open, intellectual and emotional. The cultural program is very exciting as well! Participants visited a museum of native American history in Fayetteville that has an extraordinary collection of artifacts telling about America's first inhabitants. They also enjoyed visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art where five centuries of American artwork are displayed in an architecturally stunning building. More news to follow!
Access Students in Russia Wrote Stories on Tolerance
Twenty- two Access students and alumni from throughout Russia submitted essays on tolerance for a special contest sponsored by the English Language Office at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to mark the International Day of Tolerance. After reading the essays, the English Language Office team proclaimed that everyone that submitted an essay was a winner! We admire the students’ courage and dedication in writing about this very powerful topic. What appreciated most about this contest was the opportunity to see into the hearts and minds of some very young talented authors. Choosing a “winner” was not the goal for this contest. The goal was for students to reflect on the meaning of tolerance and share their opinions with others. However, we did highlight four submissions for special recognition. Those recognized bravely discussed some of their own personal challenges and how they overcame them. A strong message that came through in several essays was that diversity is something that makes us stronger and more interesting as a group. A lesson we all need to be reminded of from time to time. The essays will be posted on Access and Alumni FB pages.
Cherepovets Access Students Help the Animal Shelter
Several days ago there was a fire in the animal shelter "Dog and Cat" in Cherepovets. Access students went to help there. They brought some food, mats and other things and, most important, worked there for several hours.
Kazan Access Students Visited Children’s Hospital
On December 12, 2014, Kazan ACCESS students visited local children's hospice with a concert. Here are some impressions, memories and thoughts on the visit from Kazan Access student Dina Gainullina: "I think that no act of kindness, no matter how small it is, is ever useless. Last Friday, December 12, our group visited the hospice for children. It is terribly sad to admit, but there is nothing modern medicine can do to help these children to overcome their condition. Why did I decide to write about this special place? Because before the visit I didn't know about it at all. I even didn't know what the word "hospice" means. It seemed to me that we’d only go there to show our concert and to play with the little patients. But I could not imagine what kind of children they are. They fight for life every day, they don’t give up, even when doctors say that they (adults with medical education!) give up. Christmas and New Year are coming soon, and all of us sincerely believe that something good and even miraculous will happen. But I’m sure that we don't need to wait till holidays, as we can do wonders ourselves! The least and the most what we can do for these kids is to give them all warmth of our hearts and our support. We are capable of making them and their parents, who live for their children and for their happiness, smile. And we managed to do it when we came to the hospice. Unfortunately, this cannot help these kids to recover completely, but no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted or useless."
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