The Independent Florida Alligator (Gainesville, FL)
Posted on February 29, 2008
By ALYSSA LaRENZIE, Alligator Writer
Five Russian teachers visited the UF campus and attended a beginner's Russian language class Thursday morning.
The teachers came to Gainesville as part of the Open World Program. The program is hosted by the Sister City Program of Gainesville Inc., which is dedicated to promoting and facilitating cultural relations in Florida.
The group began its visit in Washington, D.C., but has spent the majority of its time in Gainesville.
During the delegation's visit to a beginning Russian language class, Olga Stytsyuk, a Russian history and world artistic culture teacher, first narrated a Russian folk tale to the college audience.
Members of the Russian club and other students studying the language also attended to learn more about Russian culture from the delegation.
The students got a chance to practice their Russian with the educators, who all shared their cultural experiences so far in their native language.
Galina Rylkova, UF Russian professor and host for one of the visitors, said many students made new contacts for future trips to Russia.
Stytsyuk, the history teacher, said the government differences between Russia and the United States are not what's important.
"It's not about government-to-government, but people-to-people communication," she said, through Alina Levina, the only English-speaking Russian teacher, who served as a translator.
Will Hasty, interim chairman of UF's Germanic and Slavic studies, shared a few words with the audience after apologizing for his poor Russian.
"I think this is a wonderful chance for us to learn from teachers in Russia," Hasty said. "And for them to learn from us."
During their eight-day visit, the delegation toured local schools and attended a Gainesville City Commission meeting to see the American democratic system at work. Maksim Ivantsov, who teaches social studies, economics and history, was intrigued with the commission meeting because everyone is allowed to voice his or her opinion. Ivantsov also found it interesting that the meetings are broadcast live on a local TV station.
He said this wouldn't be allowed in Russia because TV stations are government-owned.
The delegates will conclude their trip with a visit to Orlando theme parks Saturday and will fly back home Sunday.
[Reprinted with Permission]