Visiting from Russia

В этом году продолжились контакты нашего колледжа с американским колледжем Томас, штат Мэн. Преподаватель английского языка и сопряженных с ним дисциплин Татьяна Алексеевна Шелыгина успешно продолжила сотрудничество по линии обмена преподавательским и культурным опытом с нашими зарубежными коллегами. Представляем статью, посвященную этой поездке, которая была напечатана в ежеквартальном журнале Thomas Colledge'a.  


Осторожно: английский язык! Но в материале присутствуют и экстралингвистические средства передачи релевантной информации.

We were fortunate to have Tatiana Shelygina (Tanya), a visiting professor from Kotlas, Russia, instructing our students  this past semester.  In Kotlas, where she was born, Tanya instructs teachers how to teach English.  While she was here at Thomas, she taught a class called Introduction to Contemporary Russia. The syllabus consisted of historical and current events of Russia.  Students learned about Russia’s system of education, political structure, geography, history, and culture.  Tanya graduated from Arkhangelsk Teacher Training Institute and, since then, has been teaching English first at a remote village school, then at a city school, and now at a Teacher Training Center in Kotlas.  This was her third trip to the United States.   She is an active member of the committee of the Waterville-Kotlas sister city connection.

Kotlas is located at the seat of the Kotlas District of the Archangel Region.  It is a city of railway workers, river transport workers, timber processors, and machine-tool manufacturers.  An oil and gas pipeline pass through Kotlas to the center of Russia and is the third largest industrial center in the region.  The city has a drama theater, two music schools, a local history museum, a system of libraries, a Palace of Culture, two clubs, and a center for folk art and recreation. Kotlas is larger than Waterville, but it has strong ties to Waterville through the sister city program. 

Tanya’s visit from January 4 to May 9 seemed like a decision that would not come easy for anyone, since she is a mother of two daughters and has a husband who had been left to care for them.  Right from the time she received the letter asking her to visit and teach our students, she knew it was important for her to come.  “After many long conversations with my husband and daughters, I decided that this was an opportunity that I could not refuse,” says Tanya.  “My one daughter, who still lives at home, had to take on some extra chores while I was away, as did my husband.”   Tanya’s two daughters, Katya, who is 20 and is in her third year of college, and Paulina, who is 13 and in the 6th grade, were both missed by their mother.  “My absence was easier on Katya because she does not live at home right now.  The change was much harder on Paulina.”

In Russia, the education system is different than in the United States.  “Students are required to choose a second language to learn in the second grade – most of them choose English,” says Tanya.  “It helps to enrich and expand the mind.”  Students are all taught in one building right through 11th grade with 1st to 4th grade being taught in one class.  There is no middle school or high school, the students stay in the same building for their entire education.  They move from class to class and have a home-room for attendance and school information.   After they graduate, most students either go on to college, vocational training, or go right to work.  “The quality of life for the student is better with further education, but it is not the only way to be successful.  There are opportunities, just like here.”

Tanya’s classes watched some documentaries on Russia and WW II.  “The students were very interested.  They did not seem to know too much about Russia and had a lot of questions.” Questions about life in Kotlas today and what it was like growing up there were the most frequently asked.  Since Tanya is an English teacher and not a history teacher, it made her think more about her country and the details that she had not even thought about in a long time.  “I was teaching them, and they helped me learn, too.”  At first, of all things, the language was a kind of a barrier.  When Tanya would ask for the students to do a home task, she said she got strange looks and weird reactions from them.  After a little while, they figured out that she was assigning them homework, and a good laugh was had. “They have helped me a lot with English in America.  It did not take long for me to learn the different meanings of words and phrases from here.” 

While Tanya was here, she had some time off and a chance to see some of Maine.  “My friends kept me busy and well-entertained during my visit here.”  She kept busy with the Kotlas committee and was able to meet some others from Kotlas who were visiting Waterville.  “I went out to the coast and up to the mountains.  I got to do some snowshoeing and really enjoyed it.”  Tanya also visited new York, Niagara Falls, and Washington, D.C.   She took the time to visit elementary schools, observe some classes, talk with local teachers, and was really interested in our literacy program.  Tanya also took two graduate courses in education while she was here, and it gave her an opportunity to not only study our system of education, but to learn a lot from conversations with school teachers from other districts.  It also helped her with her English as she had to read many books and write a lot of essays for her classes as well.  “I really enjoyed my time here, and I liked your sunny weather, especially in winter.  We usually have only two to three hours of daylight in Kotlas during the winter!

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