The trip started on June 28, 2019 from the American Councils offices in DC. Each part of the Summer Teachers Program was planned and organised perfectly by American Councils. All participants of the program were teachers, so why did we need a language and culture program? To refresh our language skills, to be in real touch with information learned in school, and to become more familiar with the culture of Russia.
The group of 15 teachers, led by a young and bright leader, Valentina, arrived late in the evening in the Saint Petersburg airport ready for the new adventure. Teachers of Russian with many years of teaching this language in American schools became students for this program. The next day I took the placement test and I was happy to be assigned in the second group. The first group was for native Russians or speakers of a language like Ukrainian. Participants of the second group – including myself – did not hide the pride when we frequently were praised by Russian teachers for knowing more than the first group members. According to me there was not any competition between groups, but from the philological point of view language skills and fluency can be attained through extended study and hard work. This is also a good motivation for American students to become teachers of Russian and to compete successfully in the job market next to the native speakers. We discussed Russian writers in the university’s auditoriums and in the streets and parks. The rich history of culture and art of the city was accessible also through the group and individual excursions. There are no words to describe Saint Petersburg’s great artistic heritage, its fabulous art galleries, theaters, palaces, parks, streets, and so on. I took more than 3,000 pictures on the Raising Drawbridges night tour, the “Northern Venice” Day Boat tour, excursions in Pushkin Town, in Russian museums, in Peter & Pavlov Castle, and in Petergoph. In Moscow, I took pictures during “Opera for All” under the rain and in famous historic theaters like Bolshoi theater or Mariinsky Theatre.
At the end of the program I was able to share my knowledge with other colleagues from other countries in an international conference. My topic was on motivation of students in learning Russian language and culture. The Summer Teachers Program was very exciting, and I am positive that I will transmit my new knowledge and excitement to my students. Enjoy some exciting moments from this program.
By: Zana Sukaj
Program: Summer Teachers Program, St. Petersburg, Russia
Term: Summer 2019