Russian Cultural Day and Olympiada held at ASD Education Center
by Anna Walker, Russian Immersion, Turnagain Elementary
On March 4, the Alaskan State Olympiada of Russian Spoken Language and Russian Cultural Day were held at the Education Center. The event was organized by four Russian Language teachers: Anna Walker (Turnagain Elementary), Michele Whaley (West High), Valerie Ekberg-Brown (Chugiak High), and Inna Ashcraft (Turnagain Elementary). Approximately 150 students from across Alaska participated in the competition, which was judged by 30 Russian- speaking judges who scored the students in three categories: Oral Speech, Social Studies, and Literature. There were also around 30 parent and presenter volunteers who assisted with the event.
During the opening ceremony Brandon Locke, Director of World Languages for ASD, and keynote speaker Vic Fischer, addressed the students, teachers and volunteers. Mr. Fischer was a founding member at Alaska’s Constitutional Convention. Many Alaskans also know Mr. Fischer as Anchorage’s first city planner, founder of the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research, a former State Senator, and on his last return from retirement, the Director of the Office of Russian Affairs at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
The Olympiada format consisted of testing the student’s capabilities in the areas of Oral Speech, Knowledge of Geography and Culture, and Literature. In the Oral Speech category students introduced themselves and talked about their family, their school day, their favorite author, and other personal interests. In the Cultural Knowledge category the students presented their understanding of Russian culture, their skills in working with a map, and identifying geographical locations of Russia, the United States, and Alaska. All participants of the Olympiada were registered with the professional organization American Council of Teachers of Russian, and will receive a special certificate of participation from this organization.
The Russian Cultural Day included several cultural sessions and presentations, including a presentation on Russia by students from St. Petersburg, one by a group of American students who recently traveled to different parts of Russia, an Art session with Russian artist Yulia Helgesen-Thompson, and a Folk Dance with Natalia Ramstad. The objective for the Russian Cultural Day was to provide students a focused, in-depth, and multi-sensory exposure and understanding of Russian culture, including its history, cuisine, music, dance, art, and dress.
The Olympiada was a great success and an exciting opportunity for the participants to use their Oral Language skills in a fun and competitive setting, and to also experience a day of rich Russian Culture.