Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert receives a token of gratitude from the Kindness International Student Exchange Program. Presenting it to him in council chambers are Russian student Sasha Hklebalina (left)

Russian exchange spreads kindness

When communism ended in the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation looked to its roots for education policies.

When communism ended in the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation looked to its roots for education policies.

“The education system needed a foundation. Its roots were in the ninth century when Greek monks brought Christianity and literacy and translated the Bible into Slavic languages,” said Dr. Olga Lutsenko, who was a specialist for moral education for the Russian Federation in the early 1990s. With the assistance of the government, she founded Fond Dobro (Kindness Foundation) in 1993 to build a system which used the Christian principles in the Bible as the basis of moral education. This is now taught in Russian schools with the Bible as a text book and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guide. The choice is left to individuals to become Christians or to follow other religions.

“The Bible provides the general moral principals of European and Western civilization,” said Lutsenko, who now lives in Vernon and works with the Russian education system through the Kindness Foundation to develop programs and materials for students and teachers. She is president of the Canadian Kindness Society, with her husband, Fred Lutsenko, as vice-president and Gary Sedlick of Vernon as chairman of the board of directors.

The society promotes international cultural exchange with Canadian students and adults visiting youth camps in Russia over the past years. The society, through the Kindness International Student Exchange Program, was able to bring Russian students ages 11 to 19, who paid their own transportation costs, to the Okanagan for three weeks over the summer.

The 14 students spent a week at Faith Mission Youth Camp, then stayed with host families in the area. The students, who already spoke English, spent part of each day in ESL classes, then took in the local attractions. They visited Vernon City Hall and met Mayor Wayne Lippert, who told them about the history of the area.

“The students didn’t realize that Christians play an active role in Canadian society and government and in the development of the country. They could see that most Canadians will behave honestly and morally even if no one is watching them,” said Fred Lutsenko.

He said that Russia, which now has a population of 140 million people, is a rich country which could support all its citizens well from the sale of its resources but that most people are poor and only a few are very wealthy.

“The country is still somewhat in a moral vacuum era and it will take a couple of generations for a new morality to take root,” he said.

Sedlick said he is involved with Kindness International as a chance to make a difference since the foundation deals directly with the Russian education system.

For more information about Kindness International  or to get involved with programs, including another student trip next year, email or



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

True Stories: memoir-writers, reading at Vernon centre

Reading with local North Okanagan writers Art Dalton, Patti Shales Lefkos, Raven Dahl, Janelle Hardy

WATCH: Don’t just blame AIM, all North Okanagan road crews struggling

City streets are just as bad, if not worse, than highways

Several deer spotted in Vernon’s BX

One resident spotted a herd of seven in her neighbourhood

More snow in forecast for Vernon

Regional District of North Okanagan reminds residents to stay safe during winter storms

Vernon contractor owes company $105K for unpaid work in Yukon

Judge awards Nuway Crushing Ltd. for 2018 work on Haines Highway in Yukon

Older Canadians highlighted in Kelowna film project to fight ageism

The project is part of a campaign to combat ageism

UBCO partners with Boeing to test new anti-ice coating technology

The coating could one day be applied to all airplanes to prevent ice buildup

Revelstoke already double last year’s snowfall

The city is just below halfway to the snowiest winter on record

Kelowna’s last video store, Leo’s Videos, to remain open despite failed sale

Kelowna’s last video rental store will remain open and under its namesake’s ownership

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Summerland drama students to stage Matilda

Story by Roald Dahl will be presented at Centre Stage Theatre in February

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Woman convicted in Salmon Arm love triangle murder granted escorted temporary absences

Monica Sikorski was 17 when she plotted shooting death of 22-year-old Tyler Myers

Oliver Health Centre celebrates expansion of ER

B.C.’s Minister of Health was in Oliver for the official opening of the improved emergency department

Most Read