Friday, April 4, 2014

KRASNOYASRK--Siberia's most beautiful city, says Chekhov

9867 km from home

72 degrees and sunny--an absolutely beautiful spring day. Was so cold in Moscow yesterday, my fingers went numb on a walk.  Today in Siberia, we shed our coats.  

The flight was great--that means smooth, quiet (except for the barking dog behind me) and uneventful, on a brand new Aeroflot Boeing 777.  IREX booked us on the red eye, arriving at 9am local time.  My first impression of Krasnoyarsk was similar to that of Colorado, with a dense and vast carpet of evergreen pines, spattered in with treeless white birch as far as the eye could see in  all directions.  The runway and road to Krasnoyosk appeared from the air like a narrow ribbon carved out of the trees.  Krasnoyosk rests against the Yeneise River—big and wide like the Missouri, but coming down from Mongolia and emptying into the Arctic  Ocean like most rivers in Russia.  Mountains, between the Appalachians and Rockies in height, are at the horizon.  Snow is still seen on the ski slopes, but melted off by the foothills and lower toward the river and the  city.

Our host, the principal and math teacher at the Lyceum, Ilona, met us with the sign:  Carrie, Emily, Lisa.  And what a warm welcome from her and the rest of the staff, teachers, and of course, children. The countryside view from the airport to the town, about the size of Omaha, reminded me of a western slope Colorado town like Durango.

We got our schedules for the week, and a tour--an Excursion, Russians like to call it--of the entire school.  As in Moscow, the children were so very excited to see us!  They stood at attention when we entered, smiled, and were eager to practice their English.  'Hello', 'Hi', 'Glad to see you' and "Welcome'. We met met at least one teacher from each grade and high school subject, the counselor, many, many students, and surprise...the school dentist. This school, perhaps others (?) has a resident dentist office offering services to the students free of charge.  It was a fully-appointed facility.  Interesting concept.  

Siberia is a rich area, several high school boys commented to us.  Rich in natural resources. I could not have ordered up a better presentation than what followed.  They narrated their school's rock, mineral and fossil collection.  I can't wait to share it with my 6th and 7th graders studying the online Jason project’s Tectonic Fury unit. If anyone in that class reads this and emails me back what tectonic plate Siberia is on, I will have a gift from Russia for you when I return.  Thanks to cohort Mary Sue for the idea. 

We spent the late afternoon touring the local Krasnoyarsk museum, showing historical and scientific collections originating from this area of Russia.  The young teachers serving as our tour guides admitted they did for us what I also do for my students--go to the museum the day ahead of time and take notes and research before the day with your audience. Thanks so much! Highlights included a full skeleton of a wooly mammoth, found nearby and reconstructed in the Life Science wing.  And, inclusion of an exhibit of a choom.  Native Americans on the plains called this structure a tipi (teepee). Gives even more credence to the theory that Native American are descended from Asian immigrants walking over the Bering Strait land bridge and then on south.  

Have noticed the air is a bit hazy.  It was explained to us that  Siberia is suffering from wild fires, similar to what was experienced in Colorado last year.   Extinguishment has been attempted with helicopters above, but the fires are not yet contained.  

A few more facts about the area:

The area started as a wooden fort, in 1628 by the Cossacks,  to keep out the Tartars. My hometown of Kansas City also started with Fort Osage, but 180 years later in 1808.

Gold was discovered here in 1895 (close in timing to Alaska's gold discovery)

The Yenisei river bridge, flowing through town, and its bridge, are featured on the ten Ruble note.  Our hosts gifted each of us with one. This river starts in Mongolia and empties into the Arctic Ocean.

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