The STN Blog

 

A SHORT REVIEW OF THE STN BRIDGE PROJECT MAY 2016
An STN international exploration sponsored by Eurasia Foundation and the US Embassy
Scroll below for background on the project

My trip began with a flight from San Diego to Atlanta to Paris to Moscow.  I traveled with STN Board President Jacki Romey, members of the Eurasia Foundation, students from Cypress Bay High School and international educators. 

Thursday April 28
This morning we met at the US Embassy with Michele Petersen, to provide an overview of STN and the programs we offer teachers and students in the U.S.    She administers an exchange program for Russian teachers and we discussed opportunities for exchanges between Russia and the U.S.

We then went to the House of Writers, a famous building where writers had a private club.  Now a restaurant, the building includes ornate columns, chandeliers and hosts famous and infamous diners from around the world.  It is rumored that Ronald Reagan and Mickel Gorbachov sat were we sat to discuss the end of the Cold War.

STN Board President, Jacki Romey and CEO Nancy Held Loucas at the House of Writers

Later we met Henrikas Juskevicius, who worked at the Lithuanian Television Centre from 1958 to 1960, and was head of the technological department of Lithuanian television and radio from 1960 to 1966. During the 1970s and 1980s, Juškevičius served as Vice-Chairman of the USSR State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting, as chairman of the Interministerial Committee for Radio and Television Development and as a member of the Interministerial Committee for Satellite Communication.  In September 1990 he became involved with UNESCO, playing a leading role in the implementation of UNESCO’s new communication strategy in the interest of freedom of the press, pluralism, and strengthening the communication capacities of developing countries.

Mr. Juskevicius was dining with Remigijus Motuzas, the Lithuanian Ambassador to Russia.  He was formerly a teacher and school board governor as well as the Secretariat consultant educational and scientific issues. Both gentlemen were engaging and interested in t he STN mission.

After lunch, we headed to the Humanities Institute of Television and Radio Broadcasting.  Our host, Yuri Litovchin (whom I had met in San Clemente, CA several months ago),  hosted us with a tour of his facility.  From the studio to the MAC labs to the advanced audio equipment, GITR was an incredible experience.  We will be announcing a wonderful partnership between GITR and one of STN’s strong supporters in a few months.


Our Embassy host, Irina Chernushkina, escorted us back to the hotel by subway.  We had a few hours to check out the area of Red Square.

Team at Red Square

Friday, April 29, 2016
Today we visited the Russian New University (http://en.rosnou.ru) in Moscow.  Our audience was linguistics students who are preparing for careers in travel, translation and international relations.  Nancy presented information about STN and the fundamentals of story-telling.  Jacki presented information about the STN Collaborative Documentary process and outcome.  We also heard presentations from Yuri Litovchin about his school GITR (girt.ru) Russian New University and Angelo Lioudakis from Columbia College Hollywood (columbiacollege.edu).  The students were interested in how visual storytelling can augment their linguistics careers.

Russian New University

Russia New University

I continued on to a high school in Aprelevka where I presented to an engaging group of students.  Many of them were interested in how their particular academic interest may be enhanced by adding visual storytelling.  They were interested in the path to a career in production and asked many questions about my own career path and suggestions for how they should proceed with their own education.  The school district has 37 schools and they are interested in building studios in many of the schools and beginning a program of broadcast journalism throughout the district.  Since it was the day before Easter in Russia, the school chef baked me a lamb shaped cake and they prepared a full lunch for all of us to enjoy traditional Russian food.

 Easter Brunch

And then we were off to Vnukovo Airport for our flight to St. Petersburg and an overnight train to Petrozavodsk.


Saturday April 30
Well, the overnight train from St. Petersburg was…challenging.  The sleeping accommodation was a shared cabin with bench sleeping shelves.  So we elected to spend the evening in the restaurant car with some Russian friends on their way to a rafting trip.  We studied Russian history and learned The National Anthem of the Russian Federation.

We visited the after school program run by Denis Rogatkin at Youth Union Doroga TV Studio in Petrozavodsk.  25 students came on a Saturday to produce one of their talk shows.  Jacki, Nancy and Laurens were interviewed by the students and the show was edited and posted online.  The students were so excited to have us there.  Many have never left the town as St. Petersburg is six hours away.  Four of the students will be traveling with Denis to New York in July as part of a grant to work with New York’s DCTV and Jon Alpert. 

Doroga TV Studio 

The students took us on a tour of their beautiful city and they helped us transport our bags to the train station for our trip back to St. Petersberg.

CLICK HERE FOR THE TV SHOW PRODUCED BY DOROGA TV STUDIO


 Sunday May 1
May 1 is a big day in Russia.  It was Easter Sunday so there was plenty of celebration.  It was also Labor Day so schools and other institutions were on break for 4 days. 

We took a short bus tour and a visit to the Hermitage Museum. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been open to the public since 1852. 


We met Olga Kuznetsova for Easter brunch.  Many of you will remember Olga from the STN 2015 Convention in San Diego.  She is a teacher in Moscow implementing many new teaching methods including the use of games to teach English.  Olga was living in Carlsbad for 6 weeks while she was in the U.S. so I spent several wonderful days with her visiting schools and preparing for STN 2015. 

We headed to the airport for our overnight flight from Moscow to Kazan.

Kazan, Russia

Monday May 2, 2016
Arrival in Kazan was at 7:00 am.  We were able to go to our hotel and get settled before we headed out to lunch with the entire team finally in the same place.  We had lunch at a wonderful café owned by Aliya’s sister and her husband.  We met up with Lee, Daniel and Ricky from CBTV in Florida, the boys’ chaperone Uncle Juan, Yuri Litovchin, the Rector of the Humanities Institute of Television and Radio Broadcasting in Moscow, Angelo Lioudakis from Columbia College Hollywood, and the Eurasia Team, Laurens, Aliya and Marina.

Team Portrait

Then we were all on the road to Cheboksary by bus.  We arrived in time to attend the Opening Ceremony of Volga Encounters.  It was fantastic with one performance after another:  singers, dancers, original songs about the festival, a little magic, a few jokes and an energy only seen at events where students share this passion for creative production.

                                                         

     Volga Encounters Opening Ceremony                        

Volga Encounters is organized by Evgenii Sukhoovei.  He has led collaborative journalistic projects between Russia, Poland the Ukraine.  The Volga Encounters Youth Festival of Media and Cinema is celebrating its 27th year of uniting students to share several days of collaboration.

 

Tuesday May 3
The Volga Encounters Festival continued.  Our role was varied and non-stop.  We presented an overview of STN, a discussion about our Collaborative Documentary.  The CBTV students each presented a video about themselves and spoke to the audience about their lives in Florida and their impressions of Russia.  They were rock stars and they quickly became the focus of the students’ attention – especially the girls! 

We participated in focus groups – one with students and one with teachers to get ideas from them about how to structure our collaboration.  We believe we need to first educate the teachers and then, in turn, they will be able to educate their students.

 

Yuri Litovchin at Volga Encounters Festival 

The CBTV students were guests on a talk show along with the Eurasia Team.  They were put on the spot about their impressions of Russia (beautiful and different from what they were used to), their future goals (aeronautics and college) and their limited pronunciation of various Russian words.  The students also teamed up with two Russian students to produce a short video piece where they guessed the identity of various famous Russians.

Throughout the time in Cheboksary, we interacted with teachers and students who were fascinated by our presence and genuinely interested in the amazing opportunities we were exploring.

I was particularly taken by the dedication of our translators Yegor Fyodorov and Lana Kopylova.  They very quickly understood our mission and took special time to learn the special aspects of both STN and Eurasia Foundation.

We met teachers from all over Russia as well as Kazakhstan who have a deep interest in collaboration with STN on everything from building their studios to the basics of storytelling to advanced media studies.  Here we found a true outlet for the lessons of STN and the history we have with mentoring educators.

Volga Encounters Session

Wednesday May 4
Today we toured some special places in Cheboksary.  First, we stopped at the Space Exploration Museum in Shorshely to discover artifacts about Russian cosmonauts and their intense contribution to space travel.  Our own Lee Ghit from Cypress Bay High School is a space devotee and this trip was dedicated to his passion.

 Space Exploration Museum 

Much of the museum is dedicated to Andrian Nikolayev, the third cosmonaut in space who was born there.

We also visited a tiny town on the river where cows wander the streets and the local museum is replete with many relics of interest.

Till the Cows Come Home 


After posing for a group sunset photo, we were whisked off to the closing ceremony for Volga Encounters.  As was the Opening Ceremony, the Closing included a wide variety of performances and many awards and gifts presented to students and teams that won awards. 

 

Thursday May 5
Today we departed Cheboksary for our return to Moscow to visit the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences.  This is a Russian/British post-graduate university focusing on social sciences.  Here we met students interested in visual storytelling for their own career choices. The Cypress Bay students initiated an engaging session where the students sharedtheir favorite TV shows.  Once again, we were all amazed at the similarities across countries.

Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences 

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO SHOT BY THE CYPRESS BAY STUDENTS:
https://youtu.be/oU6H_SQsMac

 

Friday May 6
Off we go to Riga Latvia, where Aliya and I will continue the journey.

We were met at the airport by Irina Troyanovskaya and her husband.  We first visited Riseba University, which has programs in Finance, Interior Design, Mjultimedia Design and Visual Media Arts.  We attended a presentation of student films with the students hosting their own films.  We were able to offer comment on the films and discuss various aspects of production with the students.  Two of the students were intensely interested in STN and followed up with information and interest on attending the STN convention in 2017.

We then visited the Baltic Media Alliance, which covers programming fr Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  Julia Pirogova, the Head of News Service in the Baltics, was interested to learn how we were working with students in the U.S. and what we might be able to accomplish on a global outlook.  We also met with Vladimir Novodvorsky, an LTV Executive producer, who shared some of the upcoming productions his team was planning.

Irina brought us by her school, an exchange school for U.S. students wishing to study Russian abroad for a semester.  They were preparing for the arrival of a group of students from Brigham Young University.  They are seeking students interested in immersing themselves in the Russian language and then returning to their schools in the U.S. to graduate.

 

Saturday May 7
We were given a tour of the city of Riga by Uldis Vanags, a legal advisor for the State Education Quality Service.  Mr. Vanags was extremely knowledgeable about the city, the buildings, the history and the people of Riga.

I ended the day with a visit to meet Leonid Jakobson, owner of the independent news website Kompromat.  Mr. Jakobson reports on controversial topics and has often come under fire for his investigative reports.  I explained to him that STN students often push the boundaries in reporting a story or making a film.  As students, they can gain access to places other reporters might not and they can rely on their student status to protect them.  Not so in the real world, where Mr. Jakobson has been physically attacked for some of his topics.  I asked him for his advice to STN student journalists and he replied, “Think twice before you start this career.  It’s safer to write about sports.”

 

Sunday, May 8
On Mother’s Day (U.S.), I visited the last remaining synagogue in Riga.  The 14 others were burned to the ground but this one was left standing because its proximity to the Lutheran Church next door protected it.  On my way to the Holocaust Museum, I met two Yale graduates who are now studying in London and were on holiday in Lithuania and Latvia.  Having recently learned that some of my family has roots in Latvia, I made an effort to do some research on family genealogy.

In the quiet moments of the synagogue I reflected on the amazing trip that has brought me to parts of the world I have never seen.  I have met students and teachers and journalists and educators and supporters who all share some part of this vision.  Across borders and beyond words, we are all visual storytellers and we hope to pass on the gauntlet to the next generation.  To all reading this:  I hope you will join us!

CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO PRODUCED BY THE STUDENTS FROM CYPRESS BAY HIGH SCHOOL.

 

Nancy Held Loucas
CEO
Student Television Network

 

THE TV BRIDGE PROJECT: HOW IT ALL STARTED

About 2 years ago, my friend Phil Ireland, a former newspaper reporter, contacted me about an international group interested in connecting with STN.  he introduced me to Yvonne Andres, President and CEO of Global School Net Foundation , an international e-learning group.  Yvonne and I spoke about STN and the impact it could have on other countries where high school students were creating the same type of work with the same passion.

Yvonne, in turn introduced me to The Eurasia Foundation and together we launched a plan to bring Russian educators and students to the 2015 STN Convention in San Diego, CA.  We hosted a press conference, held forums and found common interests among all.

Russian Press Conference at STN 2015

After the convention, we continued to be in touch with The Eurasia Foundation and they wanted to be part of the 2016 STN Convention.  They sponsored the Lead Story Contest, they took an exhibit booth and they sponsored the Teacher Luncheon. They shared information about their programs and they listened to new ideas for bridging the world between Russia and U.S. by collaborating on projects.  They also hosted a contest with the ultimate prize:  A trip for students to travel to Russia for the Volga Encounters Video Festival!

We were so excited to learn that Kurt Doster's Cypress Bay students had won the contest!  Now we are making the final plans to travel to Russia.  These students will be able to attend Volga Encounters and interact with Russian students while reporting back to all of STN.

HERE IS THE CYPRESS BAY TEAM:  LEE GIAT, DANIEL PURSELL, RICKY KIDDER

STN President Jacki Romey and I will be traveling to Russia in a few weeks sponsored by The Eurasia Foundation and the State Department.  We will speak to schools in Moscow as part of the Embassy Speaker Program.  We will meet with representatives at the US Embassy in Moscow.  We will also visit universities to discuss mentoring programs between college students and high school students.  We will visit Petrozavodsk and the Youth Union Doroga TV Studio, St. Petersburg and Kazan.  Then we will arrive at the Volga Encounters Festival in Cheboksary to work with students at a mini-STN event.  Eventually, I will end up in Latvia to visit a local school before returning home.

We hope you will also follow our trip and join us in this mission to unite students all over the world who share a passion for "telling the story."

Nancy Held Loucas
STN CEO