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U.S. Exchange Programs Alumni Projects

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U.S. Exchange Programs Alumni Projects

Alumni Opportunities

The American Center regularly supports the initiatives of alumni of U.S. Government exchange programs to give back to their communities through skill-building workshops. Contact us if you would like to learn more about how to partner with the American Center in Moscow to conduct your event. Follow the links to learn more about our projects of 2016 and 2017-18!

Alumni Projects 2016

Alumni Projects 2017-2018

 

Alumni Projects 2018-2019

 

East West Book Fest

Proposed and organized by Maria Artamonova, a 2010-2011 Fulbright FLTA, a festival of American Literature aimed at undergraduate and graduate students of Nosov Magnitogorsk State Technical University and other learners of English interested in learning and teaching languages in Magnitogorsk.

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This event, consisting of both online and offline events, attracted over 120 young people studying English at the NMSTU and took place in March – April 2019. The festival aimed at raising awareness of the importance of reading in language acquisition and cultural exchange. The events of the festival were closely related to the American Centre’s eBook Library, which all participants signed up to in order to get access to a wide choice of free electronic books. The festival started its group in VK, where all followers had a chance to learn more about American literature, communicate, share and get informed about the main events.

The festival lasted two months and consisted of offline and online parts. Online events included a number of competitions targeted at multiple interests of their participants. To take part in the Review Contest, the students had to choose an interesting book in the American Centre’s eBook Library and share their opinion about it. Translate it! contest tested the students’ ability to render fiction into Russian through the cultural nuances of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. Fans of popular literature got a chance to imitate their idols – Stephen King and Dan Brown – in the Creative Contest, which required a certain skill at maintaining suspense and gripping the reader with unexpected twists. Literature Quiz invited everyone to compete in a tricky quiz, taking its participants through a multitude of genres and titles represented in the American Centre’s eBook Library. The most active follower of the East-West Book Fest group also got a reward for active sharing and liking the posts.

The offline part of the festival introduced a guest lecturer Rachel Koch, English Language Fellow through US Department of State, Foreign Language, and Cross-Cultural Communication Programme, Higher School of Economics, Senior Lecturer, Northern Arizona University. The visit took place on 20-22 of March when Rachel Koch conducted a series of workshops on Academic Writing and Presentation. The lectures attracted not only students and academic staff but also English teachers from all over the city. The workshop participants enjoyed the unique chance to learn from the American lecturer and discuss and compare teaching techniques in Russia and the US. On April 5 the closing ceremony took place, where three student teams competed in the American Literature Trivia Quest. All participants of the festival got Certificates of Participation, the winners were awarded bookshop gift cards. The main prize of the festival – an electronic book reader – was given to one of the contest winners through a raffle.

The festival was a successful event, which managed to draw the attention of a large number of students and get them interested in literature and reading. During these two months, they learned a lot about American fiction, creative writing, the history of literature as well as American culture. The participants noted that the event gave them a chance to test their creativity and language skills, practice teamwork and broaden their understanding of teaching and learning the language.

Saratov International Club
The project organized and facilitated by Vladimir Budovkin, 2016 YEAR Program alumnus took place in Saratov in January – March 2019, attracted 50 international students enriching their lives through face-to-face culture exchange, while helping students from other countries to find a new home in Saratov! For more information, please follow the link.
Start-up Schools: How to bring up an Entrepreneur

The project by Nailia Kuznetsova, 2016 Russian Business Leaders Program alumni, and Margarita Zobnina, 2016 Professional Fellowship Program alumni, was implemented on February 16, 2019.
The main purpose of one-day conference was to give a guide to parents how to raise and support a new generation of startup kids.

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At the conference, the author of the book Startup Guide and the popular online course on Internet entrepreneurship, Ph.D., associate professor at the Higher School of Economics, Margarita Zobnina, gave the idea about the basic concepts of entrepreneurship (LEAN startup, Customer development, Business model).
The second part of the day was given to family psychologists who taught how to motivate children, support them, without pushing, teach them to handle difficulties and not to be afraid of mistakes. The guest speakers were Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, founder of Bubbles.pro, ex-director for strategy of the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF), graduate of the psychological department of Moscow State University and EMBA Skolkovo, father of 4 children, and Tatiana Chumakova, psychologist with 15+ years of experience working with children and adults.
During the final section Nailia Kuznetsova, the efficiency and time management specialist, the creator of self-development project for mothers MomSpeak, shared with the audience how to help kids to plan their time, intelligently prioritize and achieve their goals.
The conference was held with the support of the American Center in Moscow.
Total participants: 45
After the training, the participants learned about the ways of improving communication with their children, being supportive and coaching them; gained the tools of increasing their kids’ motivation and encouraging their kids’ startups; learned about the key entrepreneurial concept.

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American Studies School at Transbaikal State University
Proposed and organized by Elena Nakaznaya, an alumnus by 2002 Junior Faculty Development Program, the American Studies School was held in March 2019. During spring holidays 23 schoolchildren from 13 schools in Chita and the Transbaikal Region gathered at the Transbaikal State University to learn about different aspects of life in the United States.

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Supported by the American Center in Moscow the school was open to 10th and 11th graders who wanted to know more about American history and culture. But the number of participants was much smaller than the number of applicants to the school. The finalists were chosen based on their knowledge of English and ability to participate in discussions in the English language.
The main goal of the project was to foster an understanding of American culture in the 21st century. It was the first event of this kind in Chita. The classes in the American Studies School offered a unique opportunity to learn more about American history, cultural diversity, American painting, theatre life, education, and social life, as well as some functional aspects of American English. The project involved a series of class discussions in American Studies as well as interactive workshops devoted to American culture.
The program included not only regular classes but also some time to have fun. The classroom was divided into two zones: a business zone, where the participants had classes and a tea break zone, where they had a chance to practice English and discuss different aspects of life in the USA in an informal atmosphere. There were many surprises during the classes: bookmarks from Chicago, books from Louisville, and music from American musicals. After the American art class, the schoolchildren practiced impressionist techniques under the guidance of the art students and created their impressionistic masterpieces with acrylic paints on cotton canvases. American cooking class with a professional chef excited everyone. The participants tasted brownies, mini-muffins and other pastry that arrived from the United States especially for the American Studies School. The participants were divided into groups of four and created their American apple pies. While the pies were in the oven, third-year students organized games to check the participants’ knowledge of cooking vocabulary. University professors, students and guests of the American Studies School, including Michael Shipley, created a very friendly and stimulating atmosphere.
This school was good for net-working because its participants found new friends who shared the same interests with them. The school helped the schoolchildren to enlarge their knowledge about American history and culture, and develop their communication skills in English. The American Studies School supported by the American Center in Moscow and administered by the Transbaikal State University was a great success with the participants representing different educational institutions. Being very motivated, they all want the school to continue its work.

3D Lab at AMC

During the project series on 3D modeling and printing master classes on “Ethical 3D printing” were held at the American Center’s Makerspace and MakerLab. During classes, students learned the basics of 3D modeling and its application in medicine, engineering and everyday life.

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The project organized and facilitated by Ivan Pogorelov, 2017 RYEP alumnus and American Center long-term volunteer took place in February – March 2019.

During the project series on 3D modeling and printing master classes on “Ethical 3D printing” were held at the American Center’s Makerspace and MakerLab. During classes, students learned the basics of 3D modeling and its application in medicine, engineering and everyday life.

The prosthetics workshop was held in conjunction with the E-nable project and Maker Faire 2018 speaker John Shall. Also at the lectures was presented “Motorika”- the resident company of Skolkovo science center, whose experts talked about the problems of people with disabilities and modern medicine. The workshop featured two prominent guests, representing both the American and Russian prosthetics startups: Jon Schull, American engineer, and 3D printed prosthetics pioneer, the volunteer, speaker, and leader of e-Nable, who joined the workshop virtually, and Fedor Kubyshkin, representative of Motorika, Russian innovative lab that produces functional hand prosthesis, who joined the workshop in-person.
The event attracted several medical and engineering students and professionals, engineers from various spheres including prosthetics. Jon Schull introduced the audience into his idea of easy-to-access 3D printed prosthetics and a huge international network that now helps people with small finances to get a 3-D printed hand prosthesis and increase their quality of living. Attendees learned about an incredible source of ready-to-print 3D models, tech support and forums that is provided by the e-Nable movement. They have also discussed with Jon how to adapt his models for a particular person’s needs and parameters.
Fedor talked about the history of a very special Russian innovative lab that produces functional hand prosthesis and its current state and proceedings. He gave a lot of insights on the technical process from creating a prototype to producing a fully functional model. He has also discussed the future plans of Motorika and invited everyone interested in the field to keep in touch and maintain the dialogue.

Many people with diverse interests were gathered around the problem of plastic and its application and environmental sustainability: both listeners without training and professionals from this field visited the classes.

This part of the workshop series included a discussion about the application of 3D computer modeling in real life and group practice work in Tinkercad™ – the browser-based 3D solid modeling software-tool. The attendees were given an overview of the program’s interface and its functions. By the end of the workshop, each participant had completed their 3D models of different instruments.

During the project, research and experiments were conducted to create a new type of biodegradable plastic that is safe for the environment.

In the course of work on the study of the required concentration of the components, experiments were conducted that showed the best ratio of starch, water and glycerin in the samples. For this purpose, samples were made with different concentrations of substances and their mechanical properties such as elasticity and strength were subsequently compared.

Also, visually, the studied samples were not subjected to decomposition within three months. Observations are continuing. Expected degradation period is half a year.

It was also studied that with uniform heating of more than 100 degrees, the “plastic” melts and acquires a sticky structure. After heating, any other shape can be made from the material and leaving to dry, get a new composition. However, it will be less elastic. Most likely this is due to the heating temperature, because the boiling point of glycerin is 290 degrees. Thus, one should not allow the temperature to rise above this threshold in the future.

The results of this experiment give the prerequisites for the possibility of using this material for 3D printing.

Total participants: 50

Massive open online course (MOOC) “Understanding of U.S.-Russia relations in the Asia-Pacific region”

Composed and authored by FFDP program alumnae, Andrei Golobokov, Massive open online course “Understanding of U.S.-Russia relations in the Asia-Pacific region” was implemented in February – April 2019. Over the mentioned period, it included staging and directing of 9 video-lectures and guest interviews from various scholars coming from Montclair State University, Far Eastern Federal University (recorded and edited at the Vladivostok State University), National Research University Higher School of Economics (recorded and edited at the American Center in Moscow). Also, an author’s lecture on the Russian Far East issues ran at the American Center in Moscow in February 2018, helping to attract applicants to MOOC discussions.

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Filming of significant places related to the history and culture of the United States in the Far East such as the House and the monument of Yul Brynner, the House and the statue of Eleonor Lord Prey were implemented as a part of the MOOC.
The course provides students with both theoretical and practical knowledge about Russia and the United States on the Far East and in the Asian-Pacific region. It is aimed for those who are interested in Russia – U.S. cooperation and cultural exchange, as well as for those who wants to study and improve their English language skills. The task is to demonstrate the specifics of Russia’s relations with the United States within the regional framework, strengthening of the research potential of students.
At the end of each MOOC section, students are able to read supplementary texts and test their acquired knowledge in a specific quiz. A student, who has successfully completed the course argues over the institutional setup of US-Russia relations on the Far East, explains and distinguishes the role of culture, actors and institution in the US and Russia, involved in bilateral relations, identifies US and Russia’s various tools applied in bilateral relations, summarizes and analyzes sources related to key issues in US-Russia relations.
Composed in video-lectures, MOOC “Understanding of U.S.-Russia relations in the Asia-Pacific region” resulted as the introduction of new educational technologies of interactive online learning in the Russian Far East and in a more globalized context.
All components of the e-learning course are available to an unlimited number of people without restrictions. The project is expecting to attract more than 100 applicants.

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“State of Mind”
A 3-month ‘journey’ around America was organized by the alumni of the YEAR program: Soboleva Anzhelika, Sadykova Aygul and Usmanova Adelya in January – March 2019. 12 weeks, 6 meetings, 18 invited speakers, about 120 participants of all ages, and countless experience – this is what ‘State of Mind’ actually is!

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Project’s meetings emphasized on the diversity of the local cultures: visitors had an opportunity to meet exchange program alumnae from different parts of United States, try regional food, and learn some practical skills. ‘State of Mind’ had connected different generations basing on their wish to explore America.
Participants were “transported” to Hawaii, New York, California, Midwest, Montana, and Washington, got to know how to organize their finances, make Hawaiian leis, successfully find or change their job, how to cope with modern slavery problem, etc.
The meeting on the 14th of February was devoted to Hawaiian culture. The participants with the help of two alumni, Nelli and Adelya, who lived in Hawaii, made their own leis – flower necklaces out of fresh flowers, learned how to dance hula and had a chance to taste mochi, which is one of Hawaii’s favorite desserts.
On February 28th the visitors of the American center enjoyed a talk full of unobvious moments about living in California, provided by Anna Tkacheva, a FLEX alumnae and a current Sorbonne student. The talk included the discussion of the cost of living in California and any places like this. In relation to this, the participants of the meeting had an opportunity to learn financial literacy tips through a presentation, which was provided to them by Anastasia Golovacheva, an employee of the Central bank of Russia.
Another YEAR alumna, Valentina Bobrysheva, spoke about her volunteering experience in Montana on March 14th. She shared some traveling tips and proved that volunteering is, indeed, one of the best things one can try in the United States in order to find international friends, help the environment and have some fun along the way.
On March 28th, the State of Mind fellows had a chance to learn about the chill Midwestern culture from Anjelica, a YEAR alumna who spent her exchange year in St.Louis, Missouri. The workshop part of the meeting was lead by Leysen Shayakhmetova, a FLEX alumna and Career Booster co-founder. Leysen shared 10 qualities that define successful job candidates and gave some career development recommendations as a former HR-director at Gloria Jeans.
Media Literacy Day
Organized by 2018 YEAR Program alumnae Lidya Kaloeva and Bella Mironova. Media Literacy Day is a one-day program of lectures and workshops for high school students. The event took place at the American Center in Moscow on March 16, 2019.

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In the last few decades, the digital revolution changed our media consumption faster than we could imagine. Nowadays we can see the effects and consequences of how the internet affects our everyday life. Teaching youth to consume information through critical thinking, protecting them from manipulation, and fake news, helping them adapt to the era of information overload are our tasks. Informed decisions begin with media literacy and perceived consumption of information. It seems important to teach young generation not only mathematics or languages at schools but media literacy as well because it is one of the most useful aspects of human’s life in the digital era.

The first part of the event included 6 workshops divided into two sections. All of them were focused on different topics, for example, “How to read the news”, “How to deal with an overload of information”, “How companies sell their products using emoji” and some others. All participants could choose two which they wanted to learn. The second part was a game where everybody could check through different tasks if they have particular media literacy skills or not and collect stickers for specific skills.

At the end of the day, each participant had a personal passport where different kinds of stickers described which media literacy skills were learned during the day.

Speakers of the workshop

Anna Kolchina is a teacher at the Higher School of Economics Media Department, the organizer, and curator of the “On News – Competently” schools together with HSE and the Yeltsin Center, a graduate of the News Literacy program of the Stony-Brooke University in the USA, a film director and a documentarist, co-author of “Africa prompts” (ArtDocFest), “Odyssey of Peter ” and “Look at me”.

Olga Ageeva is a correspondent for the Economics Department of RBC channel. In the past, she was the publishing editor for the TASS project DV.Land the Far East, a TASS correspondent. She graduated from the School of Citizen Journalism, Colta.ru and Kommersant, co-curator of the journalism workshop at the Summer School-2017.

Kirill Martynov holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy, editor of the Policy Department at “Novaya Gazeta”, a lecturer at the Department of Media and Philosophy of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, author of the course “Media in the Post-Truth Epoch”, speaker of the courses “PostScience” and Coursera.

Egor Isaev is a lecturer at the Department of Media at the HSE, author, and a teacher of the courses “Study on Media Processes” and “Digital Media for the Future”.

Ekaterina Gerdzyusheva is a teacher of mindfulness and awareness practice, the creator of the Tishbite project, the author of the courses “Mindfulness in the Family” for adults and “Cosmos inside” for children and adolescents, conducts retreat seminars “Be with you” and teaches at Retinsky Yoga Studio.

Elena Medvedeva is an art director, a teacher at the Workshop Academy of Communications, winner of the Cannes Lion, member of the club of art directors in Russia.

“PI Education” Online-Platform and Course
Proposed and organized by Kirill Sosnin, an alumnus by 2017 Russia Youth Environmental Program the “Pi-education” project was started to develop in February 2019. The main goal of the project was to foster understanding of project management in Russia. It was one of the first project-oriented educational online project in Russia. The project involved a creation of online platform based on edX technologies as well as interactive website and online video course on project management.

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Many people with diverse interests were gathered around the creation of the free and open-source platform that could improve understanding of Russian people about how to design and implement their own ideas. “Pi-education” is becoming a new interactive place for net-working because its users could find adherents who shared the same interests with them.
The “Pi-education” is a successful example that shows that complex educational technologies (LMS, edX) could be integrated into Russian society with small resources. Now we have a brand new platform that is worth on a par with such popular resources as opened.ru. What we need to do is to continue our work on creation of new online courses.

Result of the Alumni Project:
– We have created an educational platform based on edX technologies. It is available at edu.pi-education.online (Attachment 1). It is based on Ubuntu 16.04 amd64 server what means that hundreds of users could enrol at our course at the same time. It is a unique experience for Russian users as only few educational platforms based on edX exist in Russia (e.g. – openedu.ru) Platform is available at edu.pi-education.online;
– We have created a website to let users explore our educational opportunities. It is available at pi-education.online;
– We have created educational materials to film project management course;
– We have created a course presentation which will be used during the video montage.
– During the project period implementation (January–April 2019) we have developed the content of the course

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