12:00 AM CDT on Monday, July 12, 2010
By ANANDA BOARDMAN / The Dallas Morning News
Eight students from Yakutsk, Russia, are studying at the Hockaday School as the first foreign group to attend a summer session at the private girls' school.
Photos by JOSH BIRNBAUM/DMN
Russian exchange students (from left) Alina Aslanova, 12, Aina Luginova, 12, and Anya Barabanova, 13, waited out a rain delay at a RoughRiders game at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco on July 3. Hockaday School worked out a summer program so the students could experience American culture. Although the school has long served students from other countries, a Hockaday educator's visit to Russia evolved into an idea to bring a group of Russian girls to Dallas. They are now working on their English skills, enjoying yoga and ceramics classes and learning about life in the United States. Yakutsk is located near the Arctic Circle and is one of the coldest inhabitable places in the world. "It was exhausting, but it's worth coming here," said 16-year-old Dasha Ludina of the six days it took to travel to Dallas. The students arrived to a hot Texas summer on June 15 and will return home Friday. "It's a very good chance for our students to learn English, to learn about the culture and traditions of the United States of America and make friends," said Marina Protopopova, who teaches English in Yakutsk and accompanied the children on the trip. Nicole Carlson, director of summer session residents, said the school has integrated the Yakutsk students into their summer program, along with 21 other international students studying at Hockaday this summer. The idea came about after Elizabeth Smith, director of English for speakers of other languages at Hockaday, spent two weeks in Yakutsk last summer to teach English. Smith stayed in touch with her Russian students and over the course of a year planned a trip to bring the Russian students to the U.S. through Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. Their parents paid for the cost of the trip. "I was extremely excited ... my mother told me I was going to Hockaday last winter and I didn't believe it," Dasha said. The students take two English for speakers of other languages classes in the morning, and an elective class such as yoga, ceramics or dance during the afternoon. The first few weeks of the trip focused on the differences between the U.S. and Russian cultures; the second half is called "Discovering Dallas." "I was very happy because to go to U.S.A. was my wish, my dream," said 14-year-old Masha Byuraeva. "Here, people are different, more happy, more easy." From The Dallas Morning News