Held annually on the last Monday in March, our Russian Sampler is a day of workshops, classes, and presentations about Russia and Russian culture for area middle school students. The program is held at Colby College and is cosponsored by Colby's Department of German and Russian.
This year, 171 students attended. They came from middle and junior high schools in Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield, Damariscotta, Augusta, Bristol, Rockland, and Newport. For the first time, we also had several home-schooled students.
Each student attended four sessions. Topics included Russian language, music, Easter egg decorating, birch bark carving, history, icons, fairy tales, schools, and last (but not least) cooking. Among the instructors were members of the Kotlas Connection, teachers, and other Russophiles. A new instructor this year was Fr. Chad Williams of the Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church in Richmond, who introduced Russian Orthodox Christianity to his pupils.
Even in years when we do not visitors from Kotlas here in March, we invariably have exchange students from elsewhere in the former Soviet Union as Russian Sampler presenters. In the bottom photo are Irina Zyuzina from Irkutsk, Russia and Olesya Nkrasa from St. Petersburg. The two girls were in Maine for the 2005-2006 academic year as part of the Future Leaders Exchange program of the U.S. State Department. Irina was attending Oak Hill High School in Sabattus, while Olesya went to Maine Central Institute (MCI) in Pittsfield.