9 May Victory Day Parade

The parade in Vladivostok for Victory Day, May 9th, was a unique opportunity to see first-hand the patriotism of the citizens of Vladivostok and their respect for military service men past and present. The entire parade route was flanked with sailors of the Pacific fleet and police – we dared not move beyond them, but we noticed children meandering past with gentle reminders to step back similar to what we’ve observed in the United States. Children are children 🙂

Victory Day Parade at the port in Vladivostok

During the first half of the parade, various military personnel marched down the parade route, sometimes accompanied by particular music for their group. Other times there was utter silence and reverence while they marched – so quietly that we could hear the jingle of the numerous medals flanking their chests.  There was such respect for these people who had served their country that it was felt throughout the crowd of bystanders.

The second half of the parade (another You Tube link to check out) included an opportunity for military personnel to showcase their tanks and transport vehicles. We are sure that some of you military buffs will enjoy

Tanks and heavier support vehicles all ride through

identifying them. There is so much respect among the people for the sacrifice that military personnel make for their country – it was an honor to be among them.

Please stay tuned for our next entry where we visit Ussirysk about 3.5 hours north of Vladivostok.

Warmest regards, Wendy & Becky


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8-9 May 2011 Victory Day Holiday (Part One)

The 8th of May is Mother’s Day this year in the U.S., and we have had the opportunity to celebrate it along with a Russian national holiday, Victory Day.  While we have received and sent Mother’s Day e-cards, emails, and phone calls today, we decided to also enjoy the surprise of a beautiful, sunny day on Sunday by taking a walking tour around the center of

Guides from Asia Pacific School

Vlad.  Students from Asia Pacific School met us at our Versailles Hotel and served as our guides for the afternoon.  They had carefully prepared historical commentary about the important and historic sights of the city and did a wonderful job of sharing this information with us in English.  As we walked around, we also had a wonderful chance to interact with Russian teenagers in an informal setting, which allowed them to practice their English skills — their English ability was really impressive.

Wall of Names

We started at the harbor, where we saw the Russian fleet, the submarine museum, and a wall of names that resembles the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, D.C., which is a monument to the merchant fleet seamen who perished in WWII.  There is also a beautiful chapel there which has the Eternal Flame in front.  We learned that this chapel is dedicated to the safety of all seamen.

Seamen's Chapel

Here in Russia, we have been attending Victory Day celebrations all week in the Primorsky Krai schools we’ve visited, however, the 9th is actually Victory Day.  It marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War, also known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia. We attended a parade that was held just next to the port of Vladivostok near the submarine monument and the chapel dedicated to the sailors.    Victory Day is a time when Russia honors its veterans, and particularly those of the Great Patriotic War.

As we continued to tour the city, we mounted the park ascending from the chapel toward Svetlanskkaya Street and stopped to take a group picture on the steps of the Arch of Triumph.  We had a great walk through the park, took the funicular to the top of Eagle’s Nest for a spectacular view of Golden Horn Bay, the new bridge to be completed for the 2012 APEC Summit, and the surrounding bays and waterways.  Shopping at GUM concluded our outing :-).  In the next entry, we will highlight the 9 May Parade at the Harbor.

                                                                        Onward to Monday,  Becky and Wendy

Arch of Triumph

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7 May 2011 – Trip to Nakhodka

After our 3.5 hour drive from Vlad on Saturday morning, we arrived to the enthusiastic greetings from Tanya Ischenko, teacher of English at Municipal Educational Institution  Secondary School No 7, “Edelweiss,” in Nakhodka and 200 students.  The pace had us going all day, but it was a tremendous opportunity to see students from each school located throughout the immediate region of Nakhodka and learn more about the schools in Far

Tatiana Ischenko welcoming us to "Edelweiss" School #7 in Nakhodka

East Russia.   So, today, we and the U.S. teachers traveled to participate in the Second Annual Junior G8 Summit that Tatiana, with help of teachers from the region, had organized for students from each of the schools in the surrounding area.  Although it was a fairly long trip, it was a great opportunity to see the countryside.

Tatiana had organized a whole student Summit day at her school which was attended by 200 Russian teens who represented their schools and had been studying the G8 countries.  So, this “summit” was a gathering of the representatives from each school who represented the G8 countries.  Using Power Point as visual support, the student representatives made presentations in English representing their G8 country, e.g., Japan, US, France, South Africa, Italy, etc.,  and its position on four major areas: environment, education, economy, and natural and industrial disasters.  Then, we participated with the Russian teachers to facilitate four

Students working during the learning Modules in the afternoon breakout sessions

“modules” of interactive work with the students for the afternoon.  Wendy and Becky facilitated the final session where selected student representatives created a set of recommendations to the world gleaned from the discussions held in each of the preceding sessions.  As Wendy and I facilitated overseeing the writing of the sets of recommendations in each of the four areas, we were absolutely amazed at how comprehensively they understood the subject, how well prepared they were, and perhaps most of all, the quality and caliber of their English.  The students created a quick power point to present to the student participants during the closing session.  It was truly an amazing day for all of us, and we have taken away strong evidence of the importance of language instruction that begins early and involves learning through academic content.

Students from Mr. McFaden's group present their poster on Environmental Problems

One of our wonderful U.S. teachers wrote to Tatiana after the Summit: “The program you ran today was  exceptionally well planned and productive.  I can only imagine how much work that you put into organizing the student J8 Summit but to include hosting visiting teachers from Russia and the USA in the program at the same time is literally incredible . . . I am very proud to say that I am associated with such a professional educator such as you.”

We close the day with tremendous gratitude to our in-country partner, Elena Novikova, Director of the Asia Pacific School, Maria Lakienko, teacher of English at APS, our wonderful and patient driver, Sascha, our US and Russian teachers, and the wonderful teachers and students of Nakhodka for their gracious hospitality and inspiration – and certain to Tatiana for her incredible organization of this opportunity for everyone,

~Becky and Wendy

US teachers and student representatives at the Junior G8 Summit, 7 May 2011, Nakhodka

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The Schools of Artyom, 6 May 2011

Talk about a whirlwind of a day! After an energizing drive in the efficient care of our van driver, Sascha, we broke into three groups to visit Artyom Municipal Grammar School,
Grammar School “Khoreograficheskaya,” and School #6.  Artyom is about an hour’s drive from Vladivostok and also the location of the airport serving the area.

Children of Artyom Municipal School offering flowers to honored veterans at their Victory Day ceremony

At Artyom Municipal Grammar School, Becky Fox, Misti McDaniel, and Betsy Sandstrom observed a Victory Day ceremony that included  patriotic songs and students’ ceremoniously offering roses and carnations to war veterans who attended and participated in the ceremony. There are approximately 600 students in this school in grades 1 – 11.   We had a complete tour of the school, and then observed instruction in Olga Shokurova’s English classroom and Olga Tretiakova’s mathematics classroom.  Student presentations were a highlight of these classes.  Olga Shokurova’s students had prepared presentations, accompanied by Power Point, about the war and explained to us the origin of the St. George’s Ribbons that are worn to commemorate and remember those who supported the Patriotic War.  We were presented with ribbons to wear. We visited many other classrooms at various grade levels, talked with students throughout the school, and were treated royally wherever we went.  We learned that we were the first Americans to ever visit Artyom Municipal Grammar School.   There is a video on our YouTube companion site providing visual accompaniment to our day.

At Grammar School “Khoreograficheskaya,” program teacher Marina Lukonina started our day by telling Doug Cullen and Wendy Frazier more about her school via a PowerPoint (Презентация ГИМНАЗИИ). It was wonderful to see Marina’s classroom where she teaches computer science. The school principal led of tour of her school, which included a trophy display packed to the brim. We not only observed instruction in nature study (elementary science), art, and mathematics, but we had the honor of attending a dance recital that included traditional and modern dances by the school’s students.
This school is the only school specializing in dance in the entire Far East region.

At School #6, School Director and program teacher Stella Pak led a tour of her school’s Korean room and classrooms that included a stop in her own classroom where Dennis McFaden and Robin Taylor observed Stella Pak teach a physics lesson that included opportunities for group work. The trip to this school was complete with a student performance of Taekwondo and authentic Korean dance. Magnificent!

We eagerly anticipate tomorrow which will involve a 3.5 hour drive each way to Nakhodka to participate in a Model G-8 Summit for students of Primorsky Krai.

Stay tuned for more updates.  We send you warmest wishes from Vladivostok in Primorsky Krai,   Wendy and Becky

Girls' classroom at Artyom Municipal Grammar School

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5 May 2011 – Victory Day Celebration at Litsey Boarding School “Burevestnik”

On the fifth of May we attended the Victory Day Ceremony at Director Aleksei Kutenkov’s school, Burevestnic, near Vladivostok. We were very honored to have been included and thank Director Kutenkov and his entire school for their gracious hospitality and the excellent performances and classes. Please see our YouTube companion site for a video of students’ performance of the “hairbrush” marching maneuver – it is amazing!

In addition to visiting with Director Kutenkov who is also a chemistry teacher at the school, we observed an English lesson that included a student’s presentation of the sights of Vladivostok Student Presentation 2011 and attended a Victory Day celebration that included performances by Burevestnic students and veterans. We had a great time touring the school and catching up with our teacher friends.

Very best wishes from Primorsky Krai! Please stay tuned 🙂

Becky&Wendy

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4 May 2011 – Visit to Schools #26 and #28 in Vladivostok


We are so happy to be reuniting with the program’s twenty teachers from Primorsky Krai.  We and our five U.S. teachers visited two schools today, our first full day in Vladivostok launching our two week visit here. Wendy and Becky had visited School 28 in August when we were here, and it is so nice to be here this time with the students.

Our first visit was to Specialized Secondary School #28 of Foreign Languages where we learned more about the school from the school’s principal and observed instruction by program teachers, Natalia Simanchuk and Yulia Krut’ko. TJHSST Chemistry teacher Robin Taylor was ecstatic to see chemistry teaching in action. As a special treat during Natalia’s chemistry lesson two girls performed for us as shown in the picture to the right. Robin was the excited recipient of a periodic table of elements for her TJHSST chemistry class! We all took part in Yulia’s English class, preparing dialogues and presenting with the students as part of her lesson.  This is a tri-lingual school in Vladivostok focusing on English, Korean, and Russian languages in grades 1 – 11.

Our second visit was to Secondary Comprehensive School #26 Specializing in Foreign Languages where we reunited with program teacher Alexandra Eremenko and observed her teaching English with her students as well as her colleague’s computer science instruction. We also participated in a roundtable discussion on education systems in Russia and the United States. Students were very curious about what school life is like in the U.S..  U.S. teacher of Russian, Betsy Sandstrom, shared a power point about the programs at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, VA.

Stay tuned for more from Primorsky Krai!    — Becky&Wendy

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Returning to Vladivostok and Primorsky Krai

We are so excited to have this opportunity to return to Primorsky Krai, and this time with five U.S. teachers!  We thank our in-country partner of Asia Pacific School, Elena Novikova, and her colleagues (especially Maria and Olesya) for their preparation and ongoing communication that are making the details of this visit possible.  We want to also thank our Program Officer of the State Department, Will Heaton, as well as our friends from U. S.  Consulate in Vladivostok, Sylva and Sveltana, for all their help and support.

Funded by the Bureau of Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State,  Wendy and Becky visited Vladivostok in August 2010 to meet the Russian teachers who would travel to the U.S. in the Fall and conduct a pre-departure orientation.  At that time, we got to know the wonderful people of this Far East Region of Russia and some of its schools.  Even though school was not officially in session at that time, we were able to visit a few schools in Vladivostok and Artyom and meet some of the teachers and students.  Here we are with students in a school in Artyom.

In the Fall of 2010, the 20 Russian teachers who were selected to be part of this project came to Virginia and George Mason University where they spent five weeks with GMU faculty and with teachers and students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.  The Russian teachers of Science, Technology, Math, and Languages participated in so many activities at TJ — including Homecoming Week, a football game, working with students in their classes — as well as multiple cultural events occurring throughout the area. It was a magical time and we all became international colleagues, as well as fast friends.

Over the course of the winter, five U.S. teachers were selected to return to Primorsky Krai with us.  Our U.S. teachers are: Doug Cullen (Geosystems/Technology), Misti McDaniel (Mathematics), Dennis McFaden (Biology),  Betsy Sandstrom (Russian FL), and Robin Taylor (Chemistry).  During these months, the teachers have continued to partner with their Russian colleagues in classroom-based projects during these months.  We are very honored and excited now to be able to travel as a delegation to Primorsky Krai and visit the schools of the teachers who spent time with us in the Fall.

The purpose of this blog is to capture as many aspects of the May 2011 in-Russia component of the USRTPD Project as possible.  We will feature experiences, photos, and day-by-day moments.  Additionally, we have initiated a YouTube companion site for videos, and our first video from August 2010 has been posted already. It is our hope to engage our Mason, TJHSST (Fairfax, VA), and R-S Middle School  (Rutherfordton, NC) colleagues and students in intercultural dialogue as we share our daily experiences during the first two weeks of May 2011.  For new-comers to this project, our web site will provide background about the overall goals and objectives — please visit us at http://cehd.gmu.edu/usrtpd. There is a photo story posted there (uploaded in labeled segments) that captures some of the August experiences Wendy and Becky had.  Upon our return to Far East Russia now, we’ll be able to continue share this beautiful city and region with our U.S. teachers, expand our deepening understandings and knowledge across countries, and add new dimensions to our learning.  These new areas of intercultural communication will build on what we began during the Fall component in the U.S. and include the action research projects that will continue and conclude during this upcoming period.  We are excited to be able to participate in a large student G8 Summit in Nakhodka on May 7th.  The following Saturday, a day-long Teacher Researcher Conference will be held at Asia Pacific School in Vladivostok on May 14th with our project teachers from Russia and the U.S. as presenters and colleagues from around the region and school officials attending.

Please follow our blog and our YouTube companion site as we work toward this international conference over these upcoming days. The photo below was taken by our in-country partners, Elena, Maria, and Olysea of Wendy and Becky in August 2010 when we climbed the rocks high above the harbor of Vladivostok for a spectacular view of the vast area.  We so look forward to sharing more details with you all.

With great anticipation of sharing our ongoing work,  Wendy& Becky

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