October 29, 2009

Chicago High School Students to Visit Russia

Dear CEERES Friends,

I am sorely out of practice in blogging, but an email message that I received just the other day that resulted in a nostalgia trip back to Russia in June of 2008 when I started composing entries about our Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad, “Discovering Russia: Challenging Stereotypes and Media Myths.” Breanne Goldman, one of the educators who embarked on this adventure wrote to tell me that she will be returning to Russia in spring 2010 with a group of her students from St. Gregory the Great High School here in Chicago. This news delighted me for a number of reasons, but at the heart of the matter is the simple fact that through this teacher’s efforts, a fortunate group of young people will expand their literal and intellectual horizons by seeing and learning about Russia first-hand.

While CEERES is not directly involved with the upcoming trip to Russia, I feel as though we had a hand in making this trip happen. Being able to send teachers to Russia last summer was a tremendous accomplishment for our young Center, and I know that it is precisely because of the connections that were made during the Fulbright-Hays GPA that this student trip is on the horizon.

Professionally, this is a feather in CEERES’ proverbial cap - seeds from our outreach efforts that are bearing fruit. This spring break trip to Russia represents an outstanding way to increase knowledge of and interest in cultures of the CEERES region. It is our hope that some of these young women and men will be inspired to continue their study of Russia when they return to Chicago. Maybe some will learn Russian. Some might even make Russia or Eastern Europe the focus of their future careers. One thing is clear: all will be somehow touched by their experience in Russia. Each experience and memory is a seed which can grow into increased cultural awareness, international friendships, future visits to Russia, and directions for the future.

Personally, I am excited for Breanne and her students and am so proud of her for pursuing this opportunity, which is nothing less than a Herculean effort, and only possible thanks to support from the St. Gregory the Great community (teachers, students, parents, administrators) and our many Russian collaborators. It is no exaggeration to say that this trip would be impossible without the superb logistical and organizational talents of the staff of the American Home in Vladimir, Russia. My own memories from 2008 and current nostalgia trip assure me that these students are in for an absolute treat.

Please check out the St. Gregory the Great website (http://www.sghsrussia.org/) to learn more about this trip and extend help or best wishes to the group, as you are so inclined.