Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 16.35.45A group of students from Wolsingham School, St.Michael’s RC Academy, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College and Newcastle University took part in the Most Education Exchange & Russian Immersion programme in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Russia.

This visit during the Easter break, was an intensive work programme amongst young people from the UK and Russia with the students being the only UK youth group visiting Russia at this complicated time of bilateral relationships.

The Russian immersion programme was organized by 2 partner schools in Russia – School 639 in Saint Petersburg and School 1231 in Moscow, both of which are UNESCO Associated Schools.

The programme included a special visit and meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where Maria Zakharova, the Director of the Information and Press Department, met the UK-Russia youth group and answered questions about her work and how the youth of today can support a positive relationship between UK and Russia.

The British group also had a unique opportunity to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Museum and to see how the diplomatic links between the UK and Russia developed over the centuries. Students had a chance to see the impressive collection of the diplomatic courier’sequipment from Russia and the UK.

Most Education Founder Lana Briton said: “This project was especially designed to give our young people a personal experience and the confidence to work in international context by developing interpersonal and communicational skills.

“The trip went extremely well, and the hosting families plus the Russian schools provided outstanding hospitality and care for our group. 

“Our students had a chance to learn Russian, live with a local host family, immerse themselves in the culture, and participate in activities organised by Russian partner schools. They experienced their hosts’ renowned friendship, hospitality and lives of Russian families.

“From Orthodox Cathedrals, Imperial palaces, the Russian ballet to the visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow, the group has explored the old & modern history of Russia. This programme was very intensive and packed with collaborative international activities including the Youth Forum “Just Act!” in Saint Petersburg and “Shakespeare Forever!” in Moscow.”

Pupils also experienced trips to the world famous Hermitage Museum, Amber room at Catherine’s Palace, The Kremlin Ballet Theatre and took part in a Russian Royal Ball Workshop.

“Both the UK and Russia have widely-spoken languages and rich literary traditions. Therefore, we joined in celebration of written and spoken culture: 2016 is the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature, ensuring meaningful and sustained collaboration in the cultural sphere between the UK and Russia.

“This was the first international experience abroad for all the students without parents and they managed it very well, and this experience will have helped all of them to gain enormous confidence as a young person,” adds Lana Briton.

British students gave outstanding feedback about the trip:

Ben Robison, Year 10 student from Wolsingham School commented, “This is one of the best trips I have ever had and I am so glad I came! I have so many nice memories now.”

Sarah-Ellen Lee, Y9 student from Wolsingham School added: “I would strongly recommend this trip to anyone who has the opportunity to go on it. Honestly it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the best thing you will ever do.

“This trip has also taught me about international links and that we are all human no matter what happens. You must remain with your own opinions and ways of life. No matter what our political state is with Russia I will remain to be in love with this beautiful country and the wonderful people.”

Jason Wilson, year 10 student from St.Michael’s RC Academy ran a live Russian Video blog during his stay in Russia.

This International Project & student exchange was organised by Most Education, which is the United Kingdom’s not-for-profit organisation for intercultural relations and educational opportunities. It actively promotes Youth Exchange Projects, Teachers’ professional development, School Partnerships, International learning & cultural experiences and Communities alliances.

“These young British students have served as cultural youth ambassadors, representing the best of Britain to their Russian counterparts. Our exchange programs are absolutely essential for the Russian-British relationship for two reasons. First, I believe that the best foundation for relations between countries is sustained personal contact. Second, the modern world now is more integrated, politically and economically. These exchanges provide a better mutual understanding of each other creating a new, better world”.

“We seek to tackle a lack of international skills among young people entering the world of work, reviving school exchanges is vital – and we’ll do everything we can to help schools make this possible.”

The Project further promotes the North-East of England to a worldwide audience for future tourism. It’s so important to link these young people when there is so much division around the world,” concludes Lana Briton