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Kotlas English Teacher Visits Waterville

by Gregor Smith

Lyuba Zinovkina

Lyuba Zinovkina. Photo by John Engle.

"I have only deep feelings of love and thankfulness for your kindness and hospitality. . . . I wish to express [my hope that] our relationship will continue." So said Lyuba Zinovkina, our latest visitor from Kotlas, to nearly three dozen people who gathered at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Waterville on March 19, 2002 to greet her. Zinovkina was here for sixteen days in March, her visit having been timed to coincide with Russian Sampler.

Zinovkina has long been involved with the sister city pairing. She is a member of the Waterville Committee in Kotlas and was a lead organizer of our Rivers Project in 1999. Zinovkina visited Waterville that February as chaperone to the Kotlas Rivers Projects students and is our first visitor from Kotlas since that exchange.

Zinovkina teaches English at Lyceum #3, a sort of magnet school that offers a more rigorous curriculum in certain subjects. For example, at the lyceum, foreign language classes meet five times a week, instead of just twice weekly, as at the other Kotlas schools. There is only one lyceum in Kotlas, and students from all over the city can apply to attend. At Zinovkina's lyceum, the focus is on science, math, and the humanities.

Lyuba Zinovkina and her family

Lyuba Zinovkina, and her family in their apartment in August 2002. From left to right, Nadezhda ("Nadya"), Lyuba, Yuri (holding their poodle Bim), and Vera. Photo by Julie Stowe.

Zinovkina and her husband Yuri, a computer engineer for the railroad, have two children, both girls. Her elder daughter, Vera, who will be 18 in August, is studying economics and law at a university in St. Petersburg. Vera was also a member of the Rivers Project delegation from Kotlas in 1999. The younger daughter, Nadezhda, 14, is a pupil at Zinovkina's school.

Not concidentally, the names Vera, Nadezhda, and Lyuba translate as "faith," "hope," and "love," respectively. Having grown up Communist and still being a member of the Party, Zinovkina was unaware of the biblical origin of this trinity* until an interviewer pointed it out to her.

During her stay, Zinovkina was hosted by executive committee members Jack and Pauline Mayhew of Vassalboro. Besides attending the public reception and teaching at Russian Sampler, she spent a day in schools in Winslow, toured parts of Maine, was interviewed for an article in the Morning Sentinel, partook of an out-of-season Thanksgiving dinner, and went snowboarding at Sugarloaf.

*"So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1st Corinthians, 13:13, Revised Standard Version)