Coolmine Students in Russia

May 13, 2007

With the support of the Post- Primary Languages Initiative, the British Council, Fingal County Council and a number other sponsors, on October the 22nd last four students from Coolmine Community School (Caoimhe Doyle, Robyn Keleghan, Seán Murray, & Liam Tremble) and four students from Colaiste Dhulaigh travelled to Yaroslavl, five hours east of Moscow to take part in a Russian language immersion programme. They were accompanied by two teachers and the co-coordinator of the Post-Primary Languages Initiative, Bridin Gilroy.

The aim of this program was to give students a chance to learn basic Russian in two weeks to supplement the Russian classes taken as part of Transition Year. Each day the students had three and a half hours of classes followed by a tours of local sites, such as the city of Yaroslavl, heritage museums, the museum of the first woman astronaut Valentina Teresckova, and also of other nearby cities such as Rostov and Kostroma.

The program was intense but there was also time for fun. The students met up with local Russian students from Provincial College in Yaroslavl. The Russians had good English and were very anxious to mix with the Irish and English students. Here they were given a chance to interact with each other and learn about each others cultures and heritage.

One of the most exciting things about the whole experience was the spectacular scenery. The guest house was situated in the middle of a beautiful birch forest miles from any shops or houses. On average the temperature ranged from about 12oC to -4oC, but still this did not stop the students enjoying long walks and playing football outdoors.

Prices in shops were really low, but the students found it hard to spend their money, there were few shops, and most of them were small and poorly stocked. Contrary to our expectations, the Russians themselves appeared to be very kind and courteous people and extremely helpful to both the students and other tourists at all times.

At the conclusion of the course the students were given a chance to complete a simple test to gain an internationally recognised foundation level Russian Certificate.

As an added bonus, on way home the students were given a brief tour of Moscow  This proved to be a fascinating tour, and included the famous Kremlin, Stalin’s tomb and the Red Square. But perhaps the most memorable sight for most students was the abundance of so many churches, huge elaborate ornate buildings with spectacular bell towers and onion style roof domes, most of which had been built during periods of great poverty in Russia.

Photo of Coolmine Students and teacher Mr. Sexton here.