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