Russia 2002

Russia 2002

Russia 2002

This has been a long day – and it’s not finished yet as I write this – but it has been very fruitful I think.  I woke fairly early to do the television interview, but I felt I had a decent sleep having missed dinner last night to get an early night.  A cup of coffee would have been appreciated, but the water here is not to be trusted without boiling (it is dark brown and has ruined my two white shirts, I think), and although I had brought some sachets of coffee mix with me from Australia (actually originally from China), it was not possible to get any useable water to use with them.

I left the hotel at 7am with one of the other participants (James, from a school in Melbourne), who was to be the other person doing the interview, plus Natasha (an AusTrade officer from Moscow), and two local recruiting agents from Novosibirsk, Sergey and Tatyana from Ya Language School, who had organised the interview.

We drove through the dark, across the huge bridge that crosses the Ob River, eventually coming to an area of high-rise housing estates.  Sergey, who was driving, had never been to the television studio before, but had very precise instructions on how to get there.  I had my doubts as we drove (still in the dark) along a bumpy dirt track through a huge area that looked like a random collection of shipping containers, but which were the garages for the high-rise housing estates.  Eventually we reached a barrier gate into a small courtyard containing a two-storey building that looked so run-down it could be presumed abandoned - but no, we had reached the studio of Novosibirsk’s first independent television station - channel 10.

There was no-one to stop us walking straight into the studio, where a young smartly dressed man and woman were sitting on a sofa in front of two remote control cameras, chatting away about topics as diverse as sport and the visit of the band, the Scorpions.  It is apparently one of Novosibirsk’s top rating channels (I wonder who collects the rating figures?), and we were scheduled to be on at peak viewing time – 7:45am.  Unfortunately, the station only owns 3 microphones, so the male presenter disappeared to allow Natasha and our choice of one of the two Australians to appear.

James happily allowed me to be interviewed, and it seemed to go very well by all accounts.  The interview lasted for about 5 minutes, and both my name and that of Prince Alfred College were mentioned frequently, together with the details of the expo venue and times.  The interview certainly achieved its desired purpose – we were so busy that we did not have a break all day (including no lunch), the room proved too small for the numbers attending, and I lost count of the number of people who said they came because they saw me on the interview on TV that morning, making a point of speaking to me because they recognised my face.  By the end of the day, I had four very serious enrolment enquiries, plus one for my choice of a girls’ school in Adelaide for them.

I had also met with several people who saw the interview and wanted to discuss educational issues, including the principal of a new private school in Novosibirsk and a team of six people from the Novosibirsk Branch of the Russian Institute of Further Qualifications for Teachers, who really wanted me to visit their institute tomorrow to deliver a lecture on Dimensions of Learning and other ways to improve educational outcomes (an impossibility because I will have left the city, and in any case it is not why I came to Novosibirsk!).  I also spent quite a lot of time with groups of students from various schools that had been brought in to have a look, which was probably largely a PR exercise but one never knows.

The serious enquiries I received from boys (or rather from their parents) were from Nikita , Vladimir, Vladislav, Dmitriy, and the girl’s enquiry was from Layla (other details redacted here).

I also spent some time introducing Prince Alfred College to the agent in Novosibirsk who organised the local arrangements (Ya).  This agent seems absolutely outstanding, and they are very interested in promoting PAC because of the interest they have witnessed in us at the expo – there were more people at the PAC desk today than any other, and often were three deep in a semi-circle around the desk.  They would like a CD with our movie clips plus 50 brochures in Russian, plus brochures from our associated girls’ schools. 

Weather-wise, the day has been fairly miserable.  When the sun rose, it revealed another depressingly grey day just like yesterday.  By mid-morning it was snowing quite heavily and a solid ground cover of white was building up.  The snow has continued on and off all afternoon, although most of the ground cover of snow had melted by early evening.

Unfortunately, there is not time for dinner tonight either, as we have to leave soon to go to the airport for the flight to Khabarovsk.  I’m glad I had a big breakfast this morning at the hotel after returning from the TV interview.  I think sleep will take second place as a priority on tonight’s flight to eating – in any case, I don’t think it will be possible to get enough space to sleep.  Between missing meals and missing sleep, this is not the most relaxing trip I have undertaken in the school’s service!

Day 9


Thursday 10 October 2002