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Staff in Russia
Alexei and Galya
has been Director of the English Program since its inception
in the fall of 1992 and Executive Director of the American Home
since 1996. She graduated from Vladimir Pedagogical Institute
(now Vladimir State University for the Humanities) with a degree
in teaching English. Before her employment at the AH she taught
English and ballroom dancing at a secondary school. And she
danced "semi-professionally"-with Alexei as her partner.
Galya is responsible
for the overall operations of the American Home. As the American
teaching staff, students in the Intensive Russian Program, and
guests of the AH can testify, she is very good at helping with
everything from administrative issues, to understanding Russian
culture, to visits to the doctor or dentist (when necessary)
and to assisting with any host family and other issues. And
she does a lot more behind the scenes to keep the American Home
Director of Special Projects for Serendipity-Russia. This means
that he assists with-and often takes charge of-whatever needs
to be done on the Russian side in connection with everything
from Serendipity's tourism development project to the ongoing
assistance to the local basketball program (including the AH
sponsored and cosponsored Street Ball Tournaments)-among many
other specific projects. Alexei played the key role in organizing
three very successful Fulbright programs for a total of 43 American
K-12 educators in 2004, 2007, and 2008. Without Alexei's resourcefulness
and hard work-and the assistance of other staff members-these
programs would not have been possible. (See the educational
In addition to being an accomplished ballroom dancer, Alexei
has an undergraduate degree in teaching English and the equivalent
of a PhD (a Candidate of Science degree) in Latin and English.
He currently teaches these languages part time at Vladimir State
University for the Humanities, formerly Vladimir State Pedagogical
University. He previously taught at several secondary schools,
including School No. 23 which specializes in foreign languages.
Alexei thoroughly enjoys working with students! One of his hobbies
is photography, which he enjoys whenever he has free time.
working at the AH in July 1999. She took over from the AH's
first secretary/office manager, Anya Morozova. (Anya moved to
Moscow where she ultimately married one of the AH's former teachers.
See the first issue of the AH newsletter.) Oxana holds a degree
in English from Vladimir State University for the Humanities
where Alexei teaches. She also has a degree in Economics and
Management from Vladimir State University.
In August 2006, she was promoted from Office Manager to Assistant
Director. Her responsibilities include the keeping of all office
and personnel records, the maintenance of office equipment,
purchasing equipment and supplies, receiving visitors and registering
students-and more. In addition to the above responsibilities,
she does a very good job translating from English to Russian-and
the other way around.
|You will also see
Oxana digging up dandelions in the yard and helping with cleaning
before a special event-that is, doing whatever needs to be done.
(All the Russian staff help out where and when needed.) Oxana's
hobbies include sports such as cross-country skiing in the winter,
tennis, and "rock climbing." (The AH was able to assist
with the donation of a number of "holds" that are being
used on the climbing wall where Oxana works out.)
began working at the AH in fall 2006, filling in as the secretary-receptionist
while Olya Solovkina was on maternity leave. Natasha was born
in the settlement of Mezinovskiy near Gus Khrustalny where a
number of major glass and crystal factories are located, although
her family now lives in Vladimir. She has a sister four years
younger than her. Her mother works at the post office and her
father works in construction in Moscow. Natasha graduated from
Vladimir State Pedagogical University in June 2006 with a major
in German. She has also studied English as a minor and has taken
class at the AH. In 2004 she studied in Germany and in 2005
she did her student teaching (German and English) in a local
school. She enjoys foreign languages.
When Lena Belova
and Olya returned from their maternity leaves in fall 2008,
it was decided to have Olya work with Lena on assisting the
teachers-with Natasha staying on as the secretary-receptionist.
She does an excellent job of explaining the program, dealing
with students and other school-related issues, and keeping the
school records in order. She always has a smile and a pleasant
word for everyone who enters her office.
Olya graduated from the Ryazan Pedagogical University in 2000. She trained to teach English and computer science. Her husband, a career Army officer, was reassigned to Vladimir. After moving to Vladimir, she worked briefly as a secretary for a construction firm and then as a translator at a firm that produces souvenir items. Given her love of English, she was delighted when, out of several applicants, she was offered the position of secretary-receptionist at the AH in March 2003-when Lena went on maternity leave.
As noted above, when she returned from maternity leave in fall 2008, Olya was assigned to work with Lena as what we now refer to as a Teacher Supervisor. (Experience had demonstrated that, especially in the fall when the teachers are just getting started, one person can't always handle all the questions and requests for assistance. Plus, with young children at home, we knew that both Lena and Olya would need time off when their children were ill. Investing in two staff to work with the teachers has proven to be very worthwhile.)
|In fall 2010 Olya took on the additional responsibility of teaching the Z1 classes--which she says she is thorougly enjoying doing.
When she has some free time, Olya devotes it to "indoor gardening." She also loves to read in English. Among her favorite authors are Huxley, Tolkien, Orwell, Bradbury, Wilde, and Asimov. She reads a great deal-but hasn't yet managed to devour everything of interest in the AH library. New books have been coming in at a faster pace than she can read.
Lena Belova and Danila
started at the AH as the secretary-receptionist in July
2001. She began working with the teachers in spring 2002. She
helped them deal with students who weren't "living up to
expectations," and she began reviewing and organizing the
teaching materials. In March 2003 she went on extended maternity
leave. In May 2003 she and her husband welcomed Danila into
the world. Lena returned to work exclusively with the teachers
in August 2004. She took maternity leave again in October 2006.
Her second son, Matvey, was born in January 2007.
studied foreign language teaching methods at Vladimir State
Pedagogical University-and is delighted to be able to put her
training to direct use. (See especially her essay in issue No.
9 of the AH newsletter.)
is a member of the local bicycling club-where she met her husband.
Her other hobbies include playing with her son, reading, and
works halftime as the AH's bookkeeper. She graduated from
the Vladimir Branch of the All-Russia Finance and Economics Institute
where she majored in accounting. The Russian system demands a
tremendous number of financial documents-many more than a similar
size organization would have to prepare in the States. Ira has
been working at the AH since 2002; she is very good at keeping
the organization's financial documents in perfect order. Ira has
a son Andrey who likes to attend AH parties. She likes to spend
her days off outdoors with her son.
has a degree in teaching Russian from Vladimir State Pedagogical
University-now Vladimir State University for the Humanities.
She and Nelli are both excellent "Russian as a foreign
language" tutors. They can cover almost any subject. And
they customize their lessons to meet each student's needs.
Tanya is married and has a grown son and daughter. The daughter,
Nina, was able to spend a year in Bloomington-Normal through
the Rotary high school exchange program. She was hosted by the
University High School basketball coach, Cal Hubbard and his
wife Vivian. The Hubbards had stayed with the Akimovs when,
in April 2000, Cal put on a series of basketball clinics in
Vladimir. (Tanya's husband and son are avid basketball fans-and
amateur players.) Besides the pleasure she gets from helping
the AH teachers and the Intensive Russian students master the
Russian language, Tanya enjoys relaxing at the family dacha
and reading. (The Russian staff and new teachers now regularly
start the year off when a special picnic at the Akimov's "country
a degree in Russian philology from Moscow State University.
Before coming to work at the AH in 1997, she taught Russian
to foreign students at Vladimir State Pedagogical University.
Among other pastimes, Nelli enjoys knitting-which she finds
is the AH's attorney. She began helping us with legal matters
in 1996. (See An
Illinois Yankee in Tsar Yeltsin's Court: Justice in Russia.)
She is married and has two children. Valentina provides us with
very valuable legal advice and service. When she has a free
moment, she indulges in gardening.
is the AH's "travel specialist." She escorted the
first tour group that came to Russia through the AH back in
1993. She has helped organize and has escorted all subsequent
AH sponsored tours since then. In between tour groups, she has
done everything from help keep the AH clean to tracking down
building materials in Moscow. Nadya shares her apartment with
two cats and, for two years, a former teacher at the AH, Linda
Harris. (Linda taught English at the Vladimir Tourism Academy
until health issues required her to return to the States.)
In the fall of 2006 Nadya spent two months touring America-starting
in Boston and ending up in Southern California. All along the
way she was generously hosted by families and individuals whom
she'd escorted during their trips to Russia. This was clearly
a trip of a lifetime
|Nadya has a wonderful
talent for making visitors feel comfortable and helping them get
the most out of their visit to central Russia. In her spare time
she loves to read romance and mystery novels in English. Anyone
who needs help with travel arrangements can rely on Nadya.
retired from the Russian militia (police) in 1989. He began
working at the AH as a "night guard" in December 2000.
Vanya is a jack of many trades. He used to manage a team that
does an excellent job of installing "paving blocks"-see
the AH sidewalk and front porch; he currently provides car repair
services. He has contributed a lot to the maintenance of the
American Home - including painting it. In addition, Vanya provides
transportation when needed and does any other odd jobs that
come along. He's very outgoing-always ready to engage in a lighthearted
or serious conversation-as long as you can speak Russian.
Vanya spends most of his time at the AH. But when he has a free
moment he enjoys watching Russian soap operas and reading science
fiction. He is divorced. His son, Roman, studied with us. He
graduated from a law institute after which he was hired as an
assistant to a Federal Judge.
is a retired Russian Army officer. He began working at the AH
as a night guard in 2002. Vasili is the chairman of the retired
military officers' association in Vladimir. He actively participates
in the activities of the group and in the city's social life in
general. Vasili is also happy to share a cup of tea with others,
along with some stimulating conversation-in Russian.
is also a retired Russian Army officer. He began working at the
AH as a night guard in 2007. He is a quiet and good-humored person
who is always willing to engage in conversation in Russian. He
lives alone. In his free time enjoys gardening.
Left to Right: Adam Bloodworth, University of Georgia; Ann Murdoch, Boston University; Emily Peyton, University of South Carolina;
Rudy Benik, University of New Hampshire; Rosalind Brayfield, Carleton College; Alli Germain, Indiana University;
Bethany Stringer, Texas A & M University; Alex Bearden, University of Washington in St. Louis
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