Published August 30, 2018
A blog post by Karina Bakitova
Karina Bakitova is a student journalist from TV studio “Kadr” in Novotroitsk, Russia, and is a participant in Eurasia Foundation’s Disability Partnership TV project (DPTV). DPTV is a collaborative program that unites high school students from the U.S. and Russia. Students are mentored and guided by their teachers as they jointly produce video content about inclusion and other disability-related topics.
Once our mentor Tkacheva Marina Victorovna greeted us by saying, “I got an email offering us the opportunity to participate in an interesting project. We have to make a video, and if we are selected, we will go to Moscow!”
The name of our TV studio is “Kadr.” I say “our” studio because we are working towards a common goal, and we are dependent upon each other. For instance, editors, cameramen, and anchors are all interconnected. We are also working on our show “Vektor Molodezhi” that is broadcast on a local channel.
After a long discussion about the U.S.-Russia Social Expertise Exchange (SEE) program, we learned that we would be doing work that was familiar to us, such as coverage of important events — but one of these events was the World Cup! Nevertheless, this was not the reason for our participation in this large-scale contest among teenagers from all over the world.
As out teacher underscored, “The primary goal of this project is cooperation between students from Russia and the U.S.” The opportunity to work with students from a different country was our inspiration. After discussing our video for two days, we realized it was almost impossible to explain why we wanted to be anchors of the Disability Partnership TV. We wanted to answer that question clearly, and for this reason, our video contained interviews conducted by us. We soon received a notification that we won — we, students of the TV Studio “Kadr,” became the anchors of the Disability Partnership TV! We could only dream about such a beginning of our summer!
Our time in Moscow flew by fast. The SEE staff was by our side. They became our support, interpreters, guides, friends, and even parents for us.
The most memorable event not only of this trip but perhaps of our lives was meeting our new friends from Texas. There was always-smiling Colton, intelligent Abbott, energetic Briley, and hard-working Kaden. The team’s teacher is Victoria, who is the kindest person we have ever met. They became our friends very fast.
We were together 24/7. We had mandatory activities in the morning, and during our commute on the metro, we studied — that’s right, we studied! We had free time only during our metro rides, and during that time, we were learning English expressions while students from Texas started learning the Russian alphabet. Abbott learned the Russian alphabet in only two days, and he never missed a single store sign. By the fourth day of the trip, there was a big change. In the morning, Russian students would say, “Good morning!” while Americans said, “Dobroye Outro (Доброе утро!)” without a noticeable accent. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. After a busy day, we would sit in a room, drink coffee, share our impressions of events, and get to know each other better. We would stay up until late at night, and we would always find something to talk about.
How can a team from Texarkana be similar to a team from Novotroitsk? Both teams are from the countryside. Everything was new to us. For them, it was their first trip abroad; for us, it was our first trip to the capital. Everything we saw and experienced was new to both of us, and these emotions united us. We had the same perspective on the world.
The opportunity to ask questions at the U.S. Embassy and in the UN office wasn’t similar to the official meetings that adults have. Everything that we heard there, we can retell easily a thousand times with even more excitement than we had that day.
Since our counterparts and we are anchors of the Disability Partnership TV, activities in Moscow related to this topic were especially important to us. We participated in several such activities, for instance, “Joyful Starts” in a boarding school for people who have intellectual disabilities. Those people are full of energy and positivity. We left the boarding school with medals and presents just like real champions. However, we wanted to reward people at the boarding school as they made us smile sincerely so many times during the time we spent together.
We had similar feelings during the para ice-hockey team practice. We managed to record a lot of lively and genuine videos that featured students’ dedication and pure happiness about every time they scored. We interviewed the head coach and got to know that some members of the team had Autism and some of them had Down Syndrome. We interviewed them, and we must say that the only thing one could notice was students’ pure dedication.
Our trip to the Disney office was quite an experience! We saw edits and sketches. Employees greeted us with joy, even though they told us they never go to work that early. They made an exception for us because they wanted to show all of the interesting aspects of working at Disney.
No, I didn’t forget to tell you about the most important event. I simply decided to save it for later. We not only got to experience the opening of the World Cup, but we also got a chance to be a part of it every day of the trip. We met many different people, interviewed them, and cheered on soccer teams. We were very lucky to be in Moscow during the World Cup. The atmosphere that existed there was indescribable, and it would always remain in each person’s memory.
Farewell came too soon. We tried to avoid that day, but we knew it would come. It was sad to say our goodbyes not only because we would be separated by hundreds and thousands of kilometers, but because we would be scattered across the globe. We didn’t sleep for twenty-four hours. We were the last ones to leave, but our partners and new friends, the team from Texas, was the first leave. We said our goodbyes to the others with whom we will be in touch at least through social media in the future. One by one Texarkana, Fort Mill, Middletown, Samara, and Nizhniy Novgorod teams said goodbyes, and soon we had to leave too.
Now that I am home typing this text, I cannot believe that all of this happened to us. It was a great opportunity that was given to us by Eurasia Foundation. Everything the Foundation does has a greater meaning than one might think. EF makes it possible for different nations to become friends and gives hope that many other things are possible. Thank you, Eurasia Foundation!