American Guest Speaker Visits FCG


When the father of the First City Gymnasia’s American volunteer came to Cherkasy this week, he got a chance not only to visit FCG, but also to work with several of the English classes that his daughter co-teaches.

Barry Scherr, the father of Peace Corps Response Volunteer Sonia Scherr, spoke to three sixth form classes and two ninth form classes. He also was a guest speaker at FCG’s English Club for middle school students. Mr. Scherr, a retired professor from the state of Vermont, talked to the sixth formers about language learning in America and his own experience learning Russian and studying and traveling in Eastern Europe — including Ukraine — in 1969-70. With the ninth formers he discussed the American education system, from primary school through university. During his presentations, students listened attentively and asked sophisticated questions that made clear their ability to express themselves in English.“The students in both the sixth and ninth forms at FCG showed a very strong knowledge of English for their grade level,” he said. “And I was very impressed to learn that all were studying at least one additional language as well.”

In addition to meeting with students, Mr. Scherr met with members of the school community who have supported Sonia’s work at FCG. They included Principal Serhiy Sayenko; Vice Principal Nadia Ananieva; two of Sonia’s teaching partners, English teachers Anna Kalieva and Olga Potiomkina; and one of the FCG families that have hosted Sonia in Cherkasy.

Although Mr. Scherr had traveled to Ukraine before, it was his first visit to Cherkasy. Sonia gave him a tour of the city’s parks and landmarks, including the Sosnovy Bir Park, The Rose Valley Park, Bohdan Khmelnytsky Square, the malls Lubava and Khreshchatyk-City, the Central Market, the historic Blue Castle, and the Hill of Glory. He returned home with many photos and memories as well as much gratitude for the warm welcome that he — and Sonia — received at the First City Gymnasia.