The STN Blog
A SHORT REVIEW OF THE STN BRIDGE PROJECT MAY 2016
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
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
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.
And then we were off to Vnukovo Airport for our flight to St. Petersburg and an overnight train to Petrozavodsk.
Saturday April 30
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.
Sunday May 1
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.
Monday May 2, 2016
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
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
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
Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences
CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO SHOT BY THE CYPRESS BAY STUDENTS:
Friday May 6
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
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
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!
Nancy Held Loucas
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.
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