Academy instructors ready Paralympics staff for Russia
By Amber Baillie, Academy Spirit Staff Writer
/ Published December 16, 2013
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Co. -- Two instructors from the Academy's Foreign Languages department will make a contribution to the Paralympic games this year by sharing their Russian knowledge and expertise with the U.S. Olympic Committee through lessons Dec. 16-Feb. 20.
Ianina Grigortchouk and Olga Scarborough, Russian instructors here, will provide Russian cultural awareness and language training to the Paralympic Sport Outreach and Development organization in support of the Paralympic cause and to prepare the committee for their departure to Sochi, Russia, Feb. 24 for the 2014 Paralympic Winter
"The Foreign Languages department here is very proud of having been contacted by the Paralympic Sport Outreach and Development organization, and are glad to have our high-caliber instructors here set some personal time aside to volunteer in support of the Paralympic Committee," said Maj. Kenny Dailey, director of operations of the Foreign Languages department. "Our instructors are Russian language and culture subject-matter-experts and teach the Russian language to Academy cadets on a daily basis."
Grigortchouk and Scarborough will provide up to two hours of instruction biweekly to 27 Paralympic administrative staff.
"When I worked with international students in Moscow several years ago, I realized how shocking and tough a new environment could be if you can't communicate with people in a language directly, and understand them completely," Scarborough said. "We plan to focus on practical things that can equip non-Russian speakers with a 'survival tool' when they find themselves in Russia."
Sessions will include lessons on basic Russian grammar, culture, and offer interaction with the instructors (both Russian natives). Academy cadets who've taken part in a local language immersion program will also occasionally attend to share insight.
"I'd like to introduce the staff to Russian culture and history to make their experience more fulfilling," Grigortchouk said. "Since some of our cadets from advanced Russian courses will be helping us, it's a great opportunity for them to interact with national mentors and to show the community how far they've come. They'll get to share their first-hand experiences with Russian language and culture."
The U.S. Olympic Committee reached out to the Academy in October expressing their need for training.
"We knew there were world-class instructors at the Academy that could help the staff of Team USA and we're grateful for the support," said Mark Jones, senior director of communications for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The first Paralympic Winter Games took place in 1976 in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. This year's events will include alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling and biathlon.
"Olympic games make a big impact on people around the world," Grigortchouk said. "The games are meant to unify people and countries, and it's a symbol of peace and camaraderie. When my colleague and I were asked about the possibility to volunteer, we didn't hesitate because it's a great opportunity to help our Olympic staff feel more comfortable in a foreign country and immerse themselves in the culture."