A Russian Experience

Amber Howard
Henry County High School
Paris, Tennessee 38242

During June and July of 1990, two of my students and I had the opportunity to become ambassadors to the U.S.S.R. as participants in the People to People Youth Science Exchange. The students were Nikki Atkinson and Brad Huddleston from Henry County High School, Paris, Tennessee.

The Applied Science delegation of which Brad and Nikki were members consisted of 24 students from California, Nevada, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The students were accompanied by three teacher leaders from the states of Kentucky (I live in Murray), California, and Pennsylvania.

The program consisted of two days of orientation and sight-seeing in Washington, D.C., four days of sight-seeing and attending opening ceremonies for the People to People program, fifteen days at the science campu in Gorky, and two days of sight-seeing in Leningrad and Petrograd.

The touring and sight-seeing in Moscow included the Kremlin, Moscow Circus, Moscow ballet, Red Square, the Lenin Mausoleum and two cathedrals within the Kremlin walls.

The Hermitage and the Summer Pallace were toured during the students' stay in Leningrad and Petrograd.

The centerpiece of the program was the science camp in Gorky. This time was divided between lectures by outstanding scientists from Gorky Region, hands on laboratory experience at the Gorky Research Institute and the Gorky Instrument Making Institute and cultural activities.

The cultural activities included performance by folklore dancers, singers, a childrens' band, ballroom dancers, attendance at a Neil Simon play with twelve interpreters, and tours of the Gorky Museum, Art Gallery and of the city itself. One day was spent at a 1700's folklore village where the students attended a Russian tea and were entertained with music of the period.

During the stay in Gorky, the students went sailing on the Volga and traveled by passenger boat to tour an ancient monastery on teh banks of the Volga.

The highlight of the science camp in Gorky was the homestays. During the homestays teacher leaders and students were invited to spend two days with Russian families.

As the first Americans in 70 years to be allowed to travelunescorted in the city of Gorky, the delegation was treated to a memorable farewell at the Gorky Region Airport.

The 30 Russian students, the 12 interpreters, the homestay parents and many members of the staff at the science camp were present to wish the Americans farewell. Students and teacher leaders were presented small gifts, baskets of food and bouqets of flowers. Many hugs and addresses were also exchanged.

Anyone that observed the airport farewell would agree that we had accomplished our role as ambassadors - both the Russians the the Americans.

For the second year I will be a delegation leader with the People to People Youth Science Exchange. The program is for high school students that have an interest in science, travel and people that have a different culture. Students that apply for the program should be good students but do not have to be straight A students. It is more important that they are mature and able to adjust to new situations. This year 300 high school students will have the opportunity to travel to the USSR.

The students that traveled last year returned with a deeper understanding of our freedom and opportunities as well as a better understanding of the Russian people.