- Rotary InterCountry Teacher Exchange

Reproduced by permission of the Abilene Reporter-News

Abilene educator receives royal treatment in Russia

By JONATHAN KRYDER / Abilene Reporter-News

Until her recent visit to Russia, Abilene teacher Peggy Langford was unaware that life in the struggling country could be so regal.

Home from a one-month teacher exchange in Chita, she vouches for the knack of the Russians to make much with little means.

"They treated me like royalty," she said. "They spoiled me rotten. Food every time I turned around."

Langford, a library specialist at Alta Vista Elementary, was selected by the Rotary Club of Abilene to participate in the teacher exchange, conducted between the Abilene and Chita school systems.

Her visit to the Siberian city ended Dec. 9.

As organizer and sponsor of the event, the Rotary Club showcased the teacher on Tuesday at a luncheon at Briarstone Manor.

She used a homemade video and a table display of Russian memorabilia to share her experiences with about 75 members.

During the overview, Langford presented former Rotary Club president Jim Aneff an honorary certificate from the mayor of Chita for his part in launching the exchange program.

Langford also offered gratitude to AISD Superintendent Charles Hundley with a purple rock from Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake.

In August, the Rotary Club of Abilene conducted the first half of the teacher exchange by bringing Chita English teacher Marina Vedernikova to Abilene.

Vedernikova spent two weeks in AISD classrooms observing teachers at work. Her daughter, Irina, also made the trip and attended classes at Cooper High School during her stay.

The Abilene Rotary Club received help with the pilot exchange from its sister club in Chita, which the local chapter chartered in 1996.

Langford told the luncheon crowd that the children -- not the pampering -- were the best part of her stay.

"I loved the kids because they were so eager to learn and willing to talk," she said.

Langford, who taught English at eight Chita schools during her stay, said she was most amazed by the tenacity of the people.

"Life is hard there," she said.

To share some Texas culture, she took to Chita a cowboy outfit, beef jerky and a book about western attire. At each school, she spent three days conducting cultural-exchange classes and a mini-unit on Texas cowboys.

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WWW version added on 02-01-99
Last updated on 02-01-99