Among the numerous noteworthy opportunities during Delta State’s recent international exchange in Russia was a visit to the United States Embassy in Moscow.
Delta State students, faculty and staff recently had the unique opportunity to meet with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
Valentina Kostornichenko, program manager for the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, extended the invitation to the group of Delta State students, faculty and staff taking part in Rivers of Music – Rivers of Culture, the international exchange project in partnership with Perm State University in Perm, Russia.
The Delta State group of 13 spent the majority of the trip under the guidance of Svetlana Polyakova, program coordinator from Perm State, in the Perm region for the Permski Krai Immersion Experience.
On June 3, while on a tour of Moscow, the group traveled to meet with Kostornichenko and embassy officials Jeni Washeleski, grants coordinator, and Mary Ellen Koenig, cultural attaché.
Students Leelah Dill, Jarrick Findley, Brandon Mosley, Justin Boatman, Ty Young and Jessica Wishard shared experiences and stories of the trip with the officials. Also attending the meeting were faculty and staff members Tricia Walker, Barry Bays, Miles Fulwider, Charly Abraham, Beverly Moon, Rory Doyle and Robin Boyles.
“It was incredibly unique to visit the embassy and share how meaningful this trip was. It was an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” said Boatman. “This entire trip was a privilege to attend and really broadened my horizons about Russia and international travel.”
“It was so cool to be invited to the embassy, and I think that we made a good impression when we discussed our experiences on the trip,” said Wishard. “I was really happy to do that, and I think it reflected well on our Russian hosts.”
The program officials were visibly moved by the stories and feelings expressed by the students taking part in the unique exchange.
At the close of the meeting, students shared the gift of song by singing “We Are One,” a piece written by American and Russian students during the Mississippi Delta Immersion Experience, which took place in October of 2014 when 11 students and faculty from Perm State visited Delta State during its inaugural International Conference on the Blues
This song was also performed May 29 at Perm State at the close of the concert performance of the DMI Summer Camp experience, part of the Permski Krai Immersion Experience.
Delta State was awarded a $100,000 grant from the U. S. Department of State for the Rivers of Music – Rivers of Culture project, along with its partner, Perm State, which is located on the banks of the Kama River in Perm
The program utilized music as the universal language, allowing students from both universities to explore the cultures, histories and heritages of the two countries.
There are three components specific to the exchange: 1) Mississippi Delta Immersion Experience, in which faculty and students from Perm State traveled to Delta State in 2014 to participate in the International Conference on the Blues, as well as other Bridging the Blues events; 2) Telebridge Project – Music of Two Rivers, a series of webinars held in the spring semester by both universities; and 3) Permski Krai Immersion Experience, in which faculty and students from Delta State traveled to Perm in May to participate in their festival season and provide a mini summer Delta Music Institute camp experience to Perm students.
To help foster greater contacts between Americans and Russians, the State Department launched the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue program in 2013. Grants up to $100,000 are provided to support collaboration, meetings, virtual interactions, exchanges and internships between American and Russian organizations.
Learn more about the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program at http://moscow.usembassy.gov/us-russiadialogue.html. To read more about the group’s experiences, visit the bloghttp://www.deltastate.edu/russia.