Vyborg, Russia 188900
Tel.: (812) 259-45
Ms Alla ("Alice") Paschenko
NMR Presentation: 14 October 1999
14-17 year olds (1.5 hours).
(Photos of visit in Finland)
EBB with teachers and students at
Vyborg Gymnasium - October 1999
Gymnasium was the first gymnasium in Vyborg. The school occupies
the buildings of what was originally a Finnish school (prior to W.W.II
the land around Vyborg, stretching west to today's border between the two
countries, was part of Finland). After the Finns were driven from
Vyborg, the buildings were used as an orphanage. They were
then converted for use as one of Stalin's pioneer
palaces. After the Soviet Union collapsed the buildings
housed a trade school briefly. They were then abandoned and for two
years remained vacant and subject to the ravishes of the weather and vandals.
Today the halls are filled with bright-eyed students, looking to the future,
trying to make sense of a past filled with turmoil and confusion.
Russian gymnasiums are not exactly like high schools. Gymnasiums cover the core subjects more intensively than do high schools. They also require students to study logic, philosophy, psychology, ethnology, and rhetoric. The Vyborg Gymnasium also has a very competitive foreign language program. It offers its students French, German and English. There are a variety of extra-curricular programs offered as well: chess, choir, dance, design. What makes the Vyborg Gymnasium unique is its reliance on traditional values and the humanities, while seeking new ways to address tomorrow's issues.
Vyborg Gymnasium administrators and students understand that youth exchanges foster not only warm feelings toward people of different cultures, but also the emergence of deeper understandings that lead to responsible citizenship and social response-ability. The English Department, under Alice Paschenko's guidance, has established diplomatic relations with the original Finnish school that occupied the school lot prior to W.W. II. Kapylan Lukio, which is now located in Helsinki, and Vyborg Gymnasium have developed a program of youth exchanges that have built a bridge of friendship across the Russo-Finnish border. (I was lucky enough to be a participant in the most recent exchange, accompanying students from Russia on their October 1999 trip to Helsinki.) The students and administrators use English to communicate with each other. They are looking for a third school in Europe to join their league and qualify for European grant moneys which are available to facilitate such programs.
I was impressed by the energy-looking-for-an-outlet at Vyborg Gymnasium. I met with student leaders several times in Vyborg and during our time together in Finland. Even though there is a real concern about current economic trends and political troubles in Russia, I found students at the Gymnasium are genuinely interested and concerned about circumstances that plaque the planet. Many seem ready to get involved. They are hungry to learn how to turn energy lost in preoccupation with local issues into remedial and developmental action, while maintaining a global perspective. Exciting stuff.
A special thanks to the students who attended the NMR presentation. It really is exciting to meet students like yourselves who are mentally active, eager to question and arrive at the truth by looking at a situation from several angles, and who are able to articulate opinions in a foreign language as well as you do. Please don't lose your verve.
And to the students who traveled to Finland. Thanks for sharing the fun with me. Our time together in Helsinki was a perfect finale for the 1999 riding season. Good luck in your studies and continued success in your attempts to build friendships that cross economic, social, political, racial, national and geographic divides.