November 27, 2012

Continuing the Exchange After the Exchange Program Ends

Mikhail Nokhov of Dagestan, Russia, began sharing the knowledge he gained during his time on the Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA) with other teachers throughout Dagestan as soon as he returned home. In his own classroom, he also encourages his students to collaborate online with students from around the world.

“Upon return to Russia I established a Teachers’ Association in Khasavyurt City, which now boasts 73 members whom I regularly train and work with using materials and skills I gained in the [United States],” says Mikhail. “We hold conferences, workshops, and professional development seminars touching on topical issues such as integration of technology into the classroom. My trip also inspired me to become a member of a larger global community called the Global Classroom in which students from 26 different countries participate in exchanging ideas and learning from one another. “

His infectious enthusiasm for exchanges and the resources available to exchange program alumni on the State Alumni website allow him to get involved with alumni of other exchange programs. He finds that such collaboration benefits his community and allows him to expand the impact of his own exchange experience.

“I work as a coordinator for Access [the English Access Microscholarship program] in the Kahsavyurt Access School, where youth from poor and low income families as well as orphans have a chance to learn English and even prepare for Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) competitions,” says Mikhail. “The State Alumni website helps me to feel like a part of a larger community of alumni from other U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs as well. So although I am not an Access alumnus, I participated in Access follow up programs for youth alumni where the students voted to establish an all-Russia Association of Access alumni.”

Mikhail finds that he is able to re-energize and gain a fresh perspective by staying in touch with his American counterparts, contacts and professors in Hawaii and Maine. “I am in constant communication with Americans I met on the program, including [two colleagues in Hawaii] who are interested in knowing how the materials from the Pacific University in Honolulu continue to be applied in Dagestan,” says Mikhail. “Through the Global Classroom, I remain in touch with [a friend] at the Belfast Area High School in Maine. Together we collaborate to update and make changes to the Global Classroom program. Thanks to the Internet, [my friend] is always ‘by my side’ and gives me a hand when needed. I sometimes give lessons on Russia to his students through Skype. Once I even taught his students in Maine how to cook Russian dishes such as borsch and pelmenies (Russian dumplings). Every year we have 3 to 4 video conferences like these between our students.”

“My trip definitely changed my view of America and Americans in a profound way. Before my visit, I did not know much about the people of America. Living with host families and working side-by-side with Americans helped me to think differently about them. I recall one moment vividly. A professor from Hawaii Pacific University, bowed down on one knee by my table helping me but also trying not to interfere others working around me. This moment made me think if such a thing would ever happen with a Russian teacher in a Russian university…. I am grateful to Americans for their benevolence, kindness, and their desire to help me.”