I got back home safe and and sound about 18 hours ago after an unforgettable 16 days in Russia that took me to remote Yakutsk, in Siberia, the first week to give a 5-day workshop on Web 2.0 tools for EFL teachers from all over the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, at the Yakutsk State University. You can see two photos and a text (in Russian) about the workshop in the university website. (I translated it online.) http://www.ysu.ru/content/news/news_detail.php?ID=6154
I was invited by Yakutsk TESOL and its leading members, Natalya, Elena and Zarmena in Yakutsk, and Larissa at Purdue Univ., in the USA, with whom I had previously collaborated through videoconferencing. I felt at home as soon as I stepped off the plane and met Zarmena. Mind you, I was nine thousand kilometers away from home in what's considered the
coldest city on Earth. Here's the workshop wiki that includes work the participants did during my morning sessions, as well as fabulous collaborations from our dear Evelyn, Larissa and Valentina (in Elista, Russia), a very active BaW10 member. I bow to you ladies and thank you
for contributing very considerably to the great success of the workshop. :-))
http://yakutskmar10.pbworks.com/ (this wiki is a work in progress)
The warmth and hospitality of the organizers, participants in the workshop and everyone else that accompanied me every afternoon on non-stop events in and out of the city (I was often away from my dorm room for 11-12 hours) is something that will forever hold a "very
special" place in my heart. I made wonderful friendships and hope to promote collaborations with Webheads in Asia and the Americas, the most adequate time zones to work with Yakutsk.
Yakutsk and its people are amazing, genuine, very generous, warmhearted and very hospitable. They are extremely proud of their heritage, history, culture, natural products, food... everything. It touched me deeply. I will be writing about this fabulous and totally
unexpected experience, so I will say no more at this time.
The second week was spent in Moscow and St Petersburg, mainly on tourism. I had previous connections there, made new friendships and, hopefully, future professional collaborations with Natalie Udina (introduced to me by our dear Elizabeth - congrats on your award!) and
Anastasia (???), the Head of the English Dept at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. Everybody was extremely considerate and careful with my well-being, and I was never left unaccompanied. I will add a touching detail. I was supposed to meet Natalie at a Metro
station in the center of Moscow at 10:30 on the tragic Monday morning of the terrorist attacks. She called me at 9:30 asking me to stay at the hotel, to be on the safe side. She'd keep in touch. She picked me up at half past three by taxi to take me to her university to meet Anastasia (who had just been re-elected for a second five-year term as Head of the English Dept). They gave me a grand tour of the university that ended with a lovely dinner in a small univ. cafe and a very
productive talk about future collaborations. Then Natalie took me back to the hotel by taxi. They wanted me to be absolutely safe. I will never forget this level of consideration for someone they'd just met.
In St Petersburg I was accompanied by Maya (a friend of Lena from Yakutsk) and Natalia (Ba08 member), two very sweet English colleagues. SP is a beautiful city and it's very pleasant to walk in the city center.
This amazing trip has opened up a whole new world!
Please excuse the long message, but I had to tell you a few things, since I just didn't have the time or energy at the end of my evenings to get in touch. Just a message home and that was it. BTW, I lost 1.5 kilos!!! You can imagine the intense activity.
For those who celebrate Easter, a very Happy Easter to you and your families!
I'm dying to catch up on Boston TESOL, since I didn't have the chance. But I'm so exhausted, though in a very healthy way, that it'll take a few days at least.
Hugs all, Teresa