Certificate delivery to "My Robot-2" contest participants
Barnaul, minus 30 degrees Celsius. In the early winter darkness, through the cold and cutting wind, Aaron Martin, an English Language Teaching Assistant at Altai State Technical University, is steadily making his way to a distant outskirt. His destination is a sports center where Aaron hopes to find Uliana, one of the Russian Schoolchildren Contest participants. The Fulbright Program has entrusted him, along with ETA students in nine other cities of Russia, with the task of delivering prizes and certificates of participation to the Best Essay contest participants and winners thus striving to make it a memorable and warm event.
It would take Aaron two long trips through the city that is barely known to him to actually meet with Uliana, and hand over the certificate to her, and afterwards have a long hearty talk with the girl’s coach Elena Pavlovna. Elena Pavlovna’s nice little presents, a tea cup and a T-shirt with the sports center logo, would remind Aaron of this cold-weather but warm-feeling night that he himself has made happen.
There were cities and towns where My Robot certificate/prize delivery was smooth and easy, as in Yekaterinburg where the 6th grader Sonya Rezvanova actually came with her mother to meet Jacob Boehmer at his academy, and he was happy that she took the time to come over to meet.
Likewise, Eric Connelly in Tyumen met with Liza Belova at his teaching institution, Tyumen State University.
Sam Finkelman, an ETA student at Siberian Federal University in Krasnoyarsk, has had a heart-warming meeting with eight-year-old Nastya Strekalovskaya and her family. Here is what he wrote about it: “So I presented little Nastya with her certificate today. I also met her grandmother and aunt who were very nice - they were personally acquainted with Krasnoyarsk's very own Viktor Astafyev, and they very kindly gave me a documentary film about the writer's life”. Nastya, in her turn, sent to us a nice little note about a box of chocolates that Sam had brought to her, on his own initiative, as the New Year gift…
Moscow and near-Moscow residents, among them one of the contest winners Vika Kechina, came over to the Krasnaya Presnya Expocenter to receive the certificates and a book prize from the Fulbright Program representative, participants and alumni.
Another contest winner, Tanya Kononova from Voronezh, met with the ETA Andy Swafford at her school; Tanya’s mother wrote to the program a warm thank you note for an interesting prize book.
In Kazan, with four contest participants going to one and the same English Language gymnasium, Erin Harrington, a teaching assistant at Volga Region Sports Academy, took part in a regular school gathering, sort of a solemn line, where My Robot essay writers received their certificates of participation in front of their schoolmates and friends.
Rachel Myers and Nicklas Blaise in Izhevsk met with the program participant Maxim Norin at his school and were impressed with his enthusiasm for writing. They spent some time at the school speaking with Maxim and some of the school administrators and teachers, and really enjoyed this meeting.
This is how it all went, certificates and prizes being delivered, new people met, Russia becoming a little closer to the American students, and America getting more into focus for the Russian school children.
Contest participants, students of 5 "B" grade, Perm School #2 with their teacher Povarnitsyna Elena Leonidovna
Elena Leonidovna with Anya Koryagina, contest winner among fourthgraders, with the prize form the Fulbright Program
Contest participants, village Bishigino in the Nerchinsky District of the Transbaikalia with their teacher Petrova Valentina Ivanovna