Intrepid educators visit Tomsk during Siberian spring



(L to R) Winchester, Elena Nesyna, a middle grades English teacher and Dr. Kania

A partnership between, UNC Pembroke, Scotland County Schools and Tomsk State University in Russia is beginning to bear fruit.

Dr. Richard Kania, Chair of UNCP's Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice Department, and Scotland County Social Studies Teacher Kitty Winchester visited Siberia (spring 2003).

They met with educators and university administrators of Tomsk State University as part of an educational exchange, funded by the U.S. State Department called Partners in Education.

Dr. Kania is also working on exchange programs between Tomsk and UNCP faculty and students, and he plans a summer 2003 visit with Chancellor Allen C. Meadors.

"I met with Tomsk State University Rector (president) Valery Obukhov during my visit, and we are moving closer to a mutually beneficial agreement," Dr. Kania said.


Natalia Zakarova (left), a linguistics professor at Tomsk, and Winchester look on while Dr. Kania lectures

Dr. Kania and Winchester participated in an exchange program that saw 11 Russian educators visit UNCP and the Scotland County schools (fall 2002) to study instructional methodologies.

"Our mission to Tomsk was to determine how well they were able to use the information we had given them," Dr. Kania said. "They are using some of the ideas and a lot of the materials we contributed to the partnership."

"Soviet-era methods of lecture-oriented instruction are still used a great deal," Dr. Kania said. "But we saw more classroom discussion and the use of cooperative learning concepts."

"When they visited us, I demonstrated the National Issues Forum concept (a town hall-style forum sponsored by the Kettering Foundation), and I visited with a teacher who had adapted it for her classroom," he said. "I was pleased."

The partnership is sponsored by the American Councils on International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State.

Dr. Kania and Winchester proved to be intrepid travelers, flying to Moscow and on to Siberia on a regional carrier.

Despite being "spring break" in the U.S, it was 31 below zero when they deplaned onto the northern reaches of Russia. However, Dr. Kania said the Russians received their old friends warmly.

"It got up to minus two degrees while we were there," he said. "The Russians are great hosts and very eager to learn all they can about the United States."

Siberia  Siberia 
Winchester (right) receives flowers from Elena Fedatova on International Women's Day. Fedatova visited UNCP and Scotland County last year as part of the PIE exchange. Natalia Zakarova (right) and Dr. Kania at memorial to Tomsk State students who died in WW II.