Two Cent Bridge Kotlas - Waterville Area
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Waterville, ME 04903-1747
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Meet the Kotlas Rivers Project Instructors

Yelena Chirkova (left) and Lyuba Zinovkina

Lyuba Zinovkina (left) and Yelena Chirkova. Photo by Phil Gonyar.

Accompanying the twelve Kotlas students were their two instructors, Lyuba Zinovkina and Yelena Chirkova. These vivacious, blonde women are the principal organizers of the Rivers Project in Kotlas.

The duo have a lot in common in addition to their hair color and demeanor. Both have been educators for over 20 years, Chirkova as assistant director of the House of Children's Creativity, a local version of our Boys and Girls Club, and Zinovkina as teacher of English at School #3, where two-time visitor Zina Yegorova also teaches English. Both Zinovkina and Chirkova are members of the sister city committee in Kotlas, and both have long been involved with the sister city effort in Kotlas. Indeed, 13 years ago last fall Chirkova arranged for the first shipment of children's handicrafts from Kotlas to Waterville.

Both women are married and have two children. Chirkova has a son and daughter, and Zinovkina, two daughters. Chirkova's daugher Oksanna and Zinovkina's daughter Vera were members of the delegation.


Yelena Chirkova (left) and Lyuba Zinovkina amid the abundance at Shaw's in Waterville. Photo by Jack Mayhew.

The two women were hosted by Jack & Pauline Mayhew of Vassalboro. Besides the excursions with their students, the duo attended a reception in their honor with teachers at Winslow Junior High, went beachcombing on the coast, and consumed lobster rolls in Winslow. They also shopped in local stores, buying sweaters, art supplies for the House of Children's Creativity, and Easter decorations. At a local supermarket, they particularly enjoyed the potted plants, the cut flowers, and the quantity and variety of produce. Zinovkina was also amazed at the frozen dinners, cake mixes, and other convenience foods, noting that at home one had to labor several hours to prepare a meal.

Both women had fun during their brief stay. Summing up the experience, Zinovkina said, "We enjoyed everything."

This article originally appeared in the Spring 1999 newsletter of the Kotlas Connection. Lyuba Zinovkina made a second visit to Waterville in March 2002.