Two Cent Bridge Kotlas - Waterville Area
Sister City Connection
P.O. Box 1747
Waterville, ME 04903-1747
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Kotlas Connection Visit Schools, Offers Lessons in Russian Culture

This winter and spring, looking forward to our sister cities' twentieth anniversary, Kotlas Connection members offered local schools a menu of class lessons on daily life in Russia, fairy tales, geography, government, language, and literature. Teachers responded with considerable interest, especially for sessions on daily life and Russian fairy tales. Mary Coombs, Pauline Mayhew, and Sheila McCarthy were pleased to be invited to four local schools and to talk with to 280 students altogether.

At Waterville High School, Pauline Mayhew presented Russian fairy tales to an art class, which subsequently designed and constructed masks of the fairy tale characters. Mary Coombs visited the seventh grade at Winslow Junior High School and talked about Kotlas life and schools. The teaching "troika" then combined their efforts with hour-long programs to second and third graders at Waterville's Mitchell School and third, fourth, and fifth graders at Oakland's Williams School.

The children were delightful and enthusiastic audiences, as they learned about Russian children, Kotlas schools, Russian fairy tales, and learned to count in Russian. As they viewed Mary Coombs's slide show on Russian children, the young American students ooh-ed and aah-ed at the view of a hospital nursery where, according to one girl, "the babies kind of looked like loaves of bread on a rack." They were surprised to know that the first day of school in Russia is a big holiday, called "The First Bell," and that Russian children bring bouquets of flowers to their teachers. Mary's photo of potty time at a nursery school drew many giggles, but the photos of the home of Grandfather Frost, a theme park near Kotlas, pleased pupils everywhere.

The children also learned that Russian schools were strict and much more formal than American schoolrooms, but were not fans of such rigorous discipline. One little girl commented that "going to school on Saturday is insane!" and another thought that there was far too much homework in Russian schools. But everyone loved playing with the selection of Russian toys and clothes at the conclusion of the program. "I like the [nesting] dolls that go inside each other. Now I want one," wrote one student in her thank-you note.