Monday, June 18, 2012

Oh... Look at all the helpful people!!!!

Sigh :-). I'm in the throws of booking airline flights, finding accommodations in Moscow etc. and I dont know what I would do without the help of the wonderful folks at CIES (Council for the International Exchange of Scholars) and Fulbright here in the States, and my Fulbright Russia contacts. 

Did I mention that logistics are not my favorite things? I love the getting to it part, but if you want to hit the ground running you have to PLAN! When I have questions I can ask at least 3 people and, often within a couple of hours, get a cheerful, positive helpful response. 

The other day I got a web orientation that started off with Secretary Clinton, congratulating me and telling me how important my work was to the Country.  EXCUSE ME!! but HOW COOL IS THAT!!  I told my daughters in the car (We are big fans of the Secretary of State, always have been, even before she was Secretary), and my oldest asked " Did she really say your name!!!?? No, I had to admit, but none-the-less very exciting.  A plethora of information was in that communication and a promise of webinars to come. 

The other really interesting thing I learned from the recent orientation videos was how Fulbright Scholarships came to be and, maybe I should have known that, but its the idea that we can promote peaceful relationships by traveling and living with other people in different cultures and collaborating on common interests - finding common ground, and I guess really learning that we are at the core as individuals pretty much the same.

Today after having several questions answered Via E-mail about flights and Visas, I got a set of documents about spending time in Russia, a list of proposed reading for living in a different country and culture and much more.  I feel really taken care of, though I still wake at night with a million things running through my head. 

Michael Worley at CIES and Oksana Anistratenko in Russia, you are the best! I also need to say that here at Paul Smiths College, I have had some incredible support from the Technology department as I look for the right laptop to bring to Deans and Administration.
If any of you are comtemplating developing a Fulbright Proposal, I really encourage you to do it.  So far, and I'm only just begun, it been a really fulfilling and supported journey !

Stay tuned for ......My next blog on Learning Russian and the amazing Cyrillic alphabet!! до встречи (see you later)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pre-travel jitters

Well, just over 2 months to go before my two lovely daughters and I set out for our biggest adventure together yet.  In fact, it's WAY bigger than anything we have done together before.   I have been lucky to travel to the Golden Mountains of the Altai Republic twice before; once with some female colleagues from Paul Smiths College, and once with a team of Education Researchers with whom I collaborate. It has, until now, only been a dream that I might share the people and place that I have become so attached to with my own girls.  Wow, how lucky I feel!  Thank you Fulbright! and thank you Paul Smith's College for making this a reality!  It helps my Jitters to talk about it! The preparations are overwhelming to me (who hates logistics) when I think of them all at once

Lest it seem like I am only interested in the travel from the perspective of exposing my daughter to the rich history and culture and natural beauty of another place, let it be known that right now as I type, a few wonderful teachers in the local elementary schools, are implementing our protocols for trying to understand the how and why of young students attachment to place and nature here in the Adirondacks.  This is the research portion of what Im going to do there in rural schools with my friend and education colleague Natalya Yurkova.  Ill be teaching two courses there as well and will write more about them later!!

Over the last several years, amazing and dedicated teachers here in the Adirondacks (Karen Rappolo, Sarah Benzce, Bill Peer and Erika Bezio and others) have been collecting data in their classes that we will be using to develop a picture of the different influences rural students have on their attachment and knowledge about the environments in which they live.  When I get back with the Altai data we will all sit down and make meaning and try to apply the knowledge to curricula - I LOVE THIS STUFF.  This is ultimately a collaboration among Adirondack kids, Altai kids, my Russian academic colleagues and the teachers there and here.

A Tupper Lake 3rd Graders image representing what they vlaue about their 'place'

An Altai Republic 3rd grader's pictoral expression of what they value about their 'place
I wanted to put a couple of the artifacts we are collecting from each student in each classroom here on teh blog so you could see more than anything the similarities.  Each student provides us with 8 artifacts to analyze including word lists,a narrative to accompany these drawings, and a survey about time spent outside doing what and with whom..  We also collect parent information about how many generations students have lived in their 'place' and what sort of work do partents to.
If you want to know more about the research, here is a link to the Press Release that went out from the College (

Stay tuned for more pictures of the places we'll go and the people we'll see...........