Two Cent Bridge Kotlas - Waterville Area
Sister City Connection
P.O. Box 1747
Waterville, ME 04903-1747
Write to Us
Street in Kotlas

Home > News > 2008 > Russian Sampler Guests

Larisa, Katya, and Olga Shine
During Ten Days in Maine

Visitors from Kotlas.

Katya Shelygina, Olga Glukhareva, Pauline Mayhew, and Larisa Trubina pose at the public reception in the REM Forum. Pauline Mayhew is a member of the Kotlas Connection's executive committee.

By Carl Daiker*

For ten days in late March, residents of the Waterville area had the pleasure of getting to know three young women from Kotlas. Teacher and principal Larisa Trubina and students Olga Glukhareva and Ekaterina (Katya) Shelygina arrived in Boston on March 17, after the usual marathon trip from Kotlas via Moscow. For all three, this was the first visit to the United States.

During their ten-day stay in the Waterville area the three Russians were treated to a variety of experiences. On Tuesday, March 18, after catching up on sleep, members of the Connection escorted the guests on the traditional walking and driving tour of the Waterville area, including a stop at the office of Waterville Mayor Paul LePage to exchange greetings.

The evening of Wednesday, March 19, saw the Connection hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for its guests at the home of Neal and Martha Patterson. It was quite a feast.

Earlier on Wednesday the three women toured Erskine Academy by the invitation of teacher Jon Jorgensen. A Colby graduate, Jon teaches the only Russian language class among high schools in the Waterville area. A good time was had by all. Later that day, thanks to Executive Committee member Mike Waters, our Russian guests toured and sat in on classes at Messalonskee High School, where Mike teaches biology.

On Thursday, March 20, Larisa, who is a principal and teacher of English in the settlement of Privodino, which is across the river from Kotlas, got to sit down for 45 minutes with Waterville High School Principal Don Reiter to compare notes. Later in the morning Larisa and members of the Connection toured Hall School (grades 4 and 5) with Principal Harriet Trafford. Larisa had lots of questions and was very appreciative of the two hours that Ms. Trafford gave to her. In visiting schools, she was surprised to see special needs students mainstreamed; in Russia, they would be in separate schools.

A trip to Maine would not be complete without an excursion to the coast. Given the weather this past winter the Connection planners opted to take our Russian guests to Old Orchard Beach and Portland Head Light instead of Pemaquid. It was one of the coldest, and certainly windiest, days of the ten-day visit. Larisa, Olga, and Katya got to walk the beach and pick up a few shells to take home. Like last year's Russian Sampler guests, they were particularly impressed with the Atlantic Ocean. "I have this feeling of big, huge water that will remain with me forever," Larisa said. They also stopped at DeLorme in Yarmouth to see Eartha, the world's largest rotating globe, and the forty-foot-tall wooden Indian on Route 1 in Freeport.

Another traditional trip when we have Russian guests is to spend a day in Boston. That took place on Saturday, March 22. Our guests took in the downtown Boston sites, including Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, Boston Common, and the New England Aquarium. At the aquarium we were briefly joined by Marina Cyrus (née Zazhigina), a native of Kotlas now living in the USA.

Our Russian guests enjoyed Easter with their host families.

On Monday, March 24, Larisa, Olga, and Katya wowed the area junior high school students at Russian Sampler at Colby College. That evening, they were greeted by around 30 area residents at a public reception in their honor in the REM Forum in downtown Waterville.

On Tuesday, March 25, our guests toured the State House in Augusta with Representative Pam Trinward and were introduced to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and Representative Marilyn Canavan. Secretary Dunlap presented the guests with a 3' X 5' Maine state flag. The three women were formally introduced on the floor of the House. They also toured the State Museum.

The travelers devoted Wednesday, March 26, was to resting, packing, and, of course, last minute shopping. Very early on Thursday, they departed for Boston and the trip back to Kotlas. We know they left with more in their suitcases than they arrived with — and a lot of memories, too. They arrived as strangers, but they certainly left as friends.

Biographical Sketches of Our Guests

  • Olga Glukhareva is currently in the 10th grade in School # 2 in Kotlas. Her mother teaches sociology; her father is a mechanic at the Kotlas airport. She has one sister, older, who is studying economics in university. Olga herself has one more year of school in Kotlas, after which she aspires to study languages at a university in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
  • Katya Shelygina is in the 11th grade, the final grade in Russian schools, at School # 7 in Kotlas. She is the elder daughter of Tanya and Vanya Shelygin, who visited two springs ago. She has one sibling, 10-year-old Paulina. She has already been accepted at a university in St. Petersburg, where she plans to study electrical engineering.
  • For the past year, Larisa Trubina has been principal of her school in Privodino, a town across the Dvina River from Kotlas. She is in charge of 350 students, in grades 1-11, and 36 teachers. Besides being principal, she is the school's sole English teacher; she hopes that a second English teacher will join her in the fall. She is also a relatively new member of the Waterville Committee, the sister city organization in Kotlas.

    Her husband is a security guard for Gazprom, which, according to its web site, is the world's largest company for the "exploration, production, transmission, storage, processing and marketing of [natural] gas and other hydrocarbons." They have two boys, 12 and 14, who both enjoy playing basketball. Her older son wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Larisa likes to travel. She has been to Finland, Sweden, Poland, and the Czech Republic. She enjoys studying languages — she was originally trained as a teacher of English and German. She also knows a little Italian.

With some minor additions by Gregor Smith, who wrote the biographical sketches.