Cultural Anthropology students from Ozarka College - Mountain View met face-to-face with English language students at Gorno Altaysk State University (GASU) in Siberia during a live online conference on Tuesday, March 2, 1010. While it was the evening in Mountain View, the students at GASU were meeting the morning of March 3rd. Gorno Altaysk is the capital of the Altay Republic, an autonomous member of the Russian Federation located deep in central Siberia.
Using Skype, a free online service, the students engaged in a cultural exchange. Regional arts, crafts and music of the respective regions were shared along with interactions about social and civic topics.
The online meeting was facilitated by Ozarka College adjunct instructor, John C. Van Orman of Mountain View and GASU English teacher Maria Ostanina of Gorno Altaysk. The two had met during a visit to Siberia by Mr. Van Orman in 2005. Their friendship and academic partnership were cemented when Van Orman and his wife, Terri, hosted a delegation of faculty and administrators from Gorno Altay visiting the University of Kansas in 2007.
There were several others present for the meeting including Ozarka administrators, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Michael DeLong; and Vice President for Student Services, Ron Helm. Also attending was Director of Operations at Mountain View, Gin Brown; and faculty members, Jeremy Nicholson, English; Cheri McKee-McSwain, Art and Communications; and Mike Jordon, Mathematics. Participating from the Arkansas Craft School was Executive Director, Terri Van Orman.
Part of the exchange between the students included demonstrations of art, music and language, as well as the students sharing cultural information such as courtship, marriage, recreational activities, holiday rituals, environmental issues, educational systems and food traditions.
DeLong and other administrators are hopeful that this is the first in such exchanges with GASU. "This is a great opportunity for Ozarka College students to experience diversity firsthand with another culture. We commend the work by many that went into setting up this exchange. It was a worthwhile event and something we hope can be continued."