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Vitaly and Zoya Will Go to Paris After All

Vitaly and Zoya Will Go to Paris After All

We Will Go to Paris After All This is the story of two children from the Children’s Center “Edinstvo” in Zabaikalye, Zoya Chizhkova and Vitaly Tolochkin. They were finalists in the vocal talent show “You Are Super” aired on the television channel NTV. Vitaly came to the Home in 2012, Zoya in 2011. Zoya arrived with her older brother Petya and her older sister Anna, who now is studying in Ulan Ude at the Railroad College. Olga Turusheva, a mentor…

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Young Stars from Zabaikalye

Young Stars from Zabaikalye

More than five months of work and preparation for the competition. Several complications, emotions, and finally – a second-place finish and the award of audience favorite. Zoya Chizhkova and Vitaly Tolochkin, participants from the Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky Center for Help for Children Left Without Parental Guidance “Edinstvo” have returned home from their experience of performing on NTV’s televised project “You Are Super.” Because of weather conditions their flight was delayed for two hours. Then the flight landed and the celebration began. There…

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10-year old Vitaly Tolochkin from “You’re Super” Meets Putin

10-year old Vitaly Tolochkin from “You’re Super” Meets Putin

The 10 year-old Zabaikalsky prize winner of the show “YOU ARE SUPER” Vitaly Tolochkin at a meeting with President Putin in Sochi asked the commander and chief what he dreamed of when he was young. “This is my question: what were your dreams when you were young, what are your dreams today?” asked Tolochkin of the President. The President replied that this is not a “simple question.” “A dream is something that transforms itself as a person develops. When I…

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International Students Day Tri-Country Live Video Conference

International Students Day Tri-Country Live Video Conference

On the evening of November 16, 2017  —  to coincide with International Students Day on November 17th in Chita, Russia and Harbin, China  —  Siberian Bridges co-hosted a long-distance, live video-conference for university students from three countries—Russia, China, and the United States—on the theme of “The Student in the Age of Interconnectivity.” The participating institutions—in Chita, Russia: the Chita Institute of Baikal State University; in Harbin, China: Harbin Institute of Technology; and  in the USA: the College of Education and…

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Annual Get-Together, December 3. Join us!

Annual Get-Together, December 3. Join us!

Save the afternoon of Sunday, December 3rd for our annual Get-Together at the Mayflower Church, 106 E Diamond Lake Rd, Minneapolis from 3 – 5pm in the Chapel.  The party will again be preceded by an exclusive tour from 2-2:45 pm across the street at The Museum of Russian Art, one of the Twin Cities’ most delightful arts treasures.   The museum is offering this tour free to attendees of our Get-Together.  Size of tour is limited.  Advance reservation required. You’ll…

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My summer in Chita: 13. Leave-taking

My summer in Chita: 13. Leave-taking

This was my 12th visit to Chita in all these years, and for most of them leave-taking has been a wonderful comedy of scheduling, generosity, and impossible luggage.  This time was no exception. It begins with going mushrooming, which I finally did exactly one week before my departure date for Irkutsk on Thursday, August 10. My host, Andrei Mikhailovich, took me with his wife and her sister (my friend), Tanya to a village an hour east of Chita, Ilyinka, a…

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My summer in Chita: 12. At the dacha

My summer in Chita: 12. At the dacha

This summer has been marked by visits to the dachas of friends.  Dachas have been a boon in the difficult economy that most Russians have endured for 2-3 generations now as they are almost always the site of a large and productive vegetable garden.  In the 1990s, the difficult transitional period from the Soviet economy to the capitalist one, there were figures cited that said one-third of all food eaten by Russians was produced in their dacha gardens.  I don’t…

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My summer in Chita: 11. Visiting the war memorial

My summer in Chita: 11. Visiting the war memorial

In 1997, Tanya Sukhanova came from Chita for summer study in Vermont.  We took a trip to Washington, DC, and I asked if there was anything she wanted to be sure to see.  She wanted to see Arlington Cemetery.  At the time I didn’t understand her compelling interest in what is admittedly our most important war memorial.   Over the years, and especially in the last few, I begin to understand. On July 24th, Victor and Elena Kulakovsky, Olga Fleshler, and…

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My summer in Chita: 10. Family camping on Lake Arey

My summer in Chita: 10. Family camping on Lake Arey

I joined Elena Anatolievna and her family on a camping trip on Lake Arey.  This lake is 220 kilometers west of Chita and sits alone in the larch, birch and pine forests.  There is a lot of ancient lore attached to the lake, most notably that Chingghis Khan and his troops came to the lake for rest and relaxation.  This spring-fed lake’s mineral properties are considered very healthful.  Plus the mud from one part of it is curative.  And then…

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My summer in Chita: 9. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky 4th of 4

My summer in Chita: 9. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky 4th of 4

HOW THE CENTER IS FARING On Saturday at the camp, Director Natalia Nikolaevna talked to the committee of volunteers about the state of the school. Some of the good things are that the 2nd year of students from the Center graduating from the town school were more successful than the first set in this new arrangement.  Everyone completed 9th grade (when they can transfer to “College,” ie. Vocational Training Institutes). And they were able to retain the school building that…

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My summer in Chita: 8. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky 3rd of 4

My summer in Chita: 8. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky 3rd of 4

THE “YOU’RE SUPER!” CONCERT And then we went to the concert. Background: Three children from the Children’s Center, Zoya (12) and Anna (16) Chizhkova and Vitaly Tolochkin (10), auditioned into this new national TV singing contest show.  Anna was eliminated in the quarter-finals, but in the end Vitaly took 2nd and Zoya, while not making it past the final round, received two accolades. The emcee is also a producer and was allowed to use his discretion to add people to…

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My summer in Chita: 7. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky 2nd of 4

My summer in Chita: 7. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky 2nd of 4

THE DECEMBRIST MUSEUM The following day, Sunday, we drove into town for a tour of the Decembrist Museum of Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky.  After the Decembrist Uprising of 1825–an attempt by a group of aristocrats to depose the Tsar and institute a more democratic and egalitarian system at the moment that Nicholas I was to take the throne–the perpetrators were shipped off to prison in Siberia, mostly in Zabaikalye. Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky had the biggest prison for the conspirators with 78 prisoners, due to its…

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My summer in Chita: 6. Petrovsky-Zabaikalsky 1st of 4

My summer in Chita: 6. Petrovsky-Zabaikalsky 1st of 4

PART 1 of 4: AT THE CAMP We drove the 6+ hours in two cars.  The highway was noticeably better than 2 years ago, though still full of construction.  I was with Vitaly and Elena, and Olga who gave me a Russian lesson on the way.  The countryside was beautiful, with huge unfenced fields of low grass and hills rising beyond them, and every once in a while a smallish meandering river.  The air was not clear due to wildfires. …

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My summer in Chita: 5. An interlude.

My summer in Chita: 5. An interlude.

The day after teaching ended, Tanya took me to the Music College, the place I taught in 1992-93 and 1995, to see if I could get a practice room to prepare for the concert on the weekend in Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky.  NOTE:  it is now the “Arts College” with the inclusion of graphics, design and photography.  In Russia, “College” is the term for what we might call a Vocational-Technical School–students have transferred out of the last two grades of high school to…

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My summer in Chita: 4. School ends.

My summer in Chita: 4. School ends.

English Explorers summer school ended Wednesday, June 21st.  On that day we had a field trip to a nature area west of Chita and along the Ingoda River called Sukhotino.  We were accompanied by Sergey Valentinovich, a naturalist and archeologist.  He led us on a short walk down to the river faced by 50 ft cliffs, the remains of volcanoes from 250,000 million years ago, then up the cliffs and along the cliffs till they stopped and we returned to…

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My summer in Chita: 3. Time is flying!

My summer in Chita: 3. Time is flying!

Time is flying!  We are already in the last week of the three week session at City of Children’s summer English school.  I found my niche as Loud Repetition Master.  As a group and individually I get the students to imitate my fast speech and intonation on sentences and structures addressed in class.  I was surprised at first to find that the 7-8 year-olds have an easier time with this, I think because they aren’t so concerned with understanding and…

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My summer in Chita – 2. Catching a cold

My summer in Chita – 2. Catching a cold

Yesterday we had a fantastic day at the Rope Park 20-25 km outside of Chita in the mountains.  The day was brisk and we were outside from 10:30 until 4pm.  I’m blaming that for my cold…mainly because I want to mention the day and show some pictures! So, I caught a cold.  It came on very quickly, starting on the bus ride home, with serial sneezing as if I had allergies, which I don’t.  By 9 at night my nose…

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News about the boys from Chernovsky

News about the boys from Chernovsky

This note was received June 6th from Irina Shipley.  For many years now, Irina and Michael having been assisting older [mostly] boys at the Children’s Center in Chernovsky, a town 30 minutes from Chita. Dear Tom and other members of the Siberian Bridges organization! Here is an update and a short analysis of our work and relationships with the kids from the orphanage, which you kindly support with funds. During the second half of the school year it became more…

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My summer in Chita – 1. City of Children

My summer in Chita – 1. City of Children

Hello from Chita, or more accurately, the KSK district about 12 km from the city center.  I’ve taught several days now in the 3-week summer English program of the “City of Children” Child Development Center.  Marie Nicholas of Minneapolis taught in this program last summer when they tried doing it as a camp, but on this third annual effort they’ve switched back to a day school in town.  There are around 25 children divided into two classes by ability, maybe…

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Vitaly wins 2nd Place, Zoya wins Audience Favorite!

Vitaly wins 2nd Place, Zoya wins Audience Favorite!

Tom here.  Just arrived in Chita and learned that Vitaly Tolochkin and Zoya Chizhkova both living at the Children’s Center in Petrovsk-Zabaikalsky (see previous posts here) shined at the “You’re Super!” (Ты Супер!) nationally televised children’s talent show that finished in May.  Vitaly won Second Place and Zoya won the Audience Favorite prize! I also learned that the man that came on stage and spoke to Vitaly (see the previous post’s video around 6:30) and gave him a book as…

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