Students exchange ‘Kindness’

The of Canadian Kindness Society hosted students and adults from Russia and Ukraine in the Okanagan for three weeks.

When communism ended in the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation looked to its roots for educational 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, president of Kindness International. She founded “Fond Dobro” in 1993 to build a system which used Christian principles in the Bible as the basis of moral education in Russia.

Presently, this system is taught in Russian and Ukrainian public schools with the Bible as a text book and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guide. The choice is left to individuals as to whether they follow Christianity or other religions.

The local branch, the Canadian Kindness Society, is based here in Vernon. It promotes international cultural exchanges, with many Canadian students and adults visiting or speaking at youth camps in Russia and Ukraine over the past 20 years. The second annual Kindness International Student Exchange Program (KISEP 2012), June 16 to July 8, hosted 18 students, ages 8-16, and four adults from Russia and Ukraine in the Okanagan for three weeks.

The KISEP participants stayed with host families from Vernon and Armstrong for two weeks, spending the mornings in ESL and introductory Bible classes, and the afternoons visiting local attractions. They then attended a local summer camp for one week at Sunnybrae.

The Vernon School District also hosted another 34 students and three teachers from two different regions of Russia for three weeks and they joined the KISEP students at camp.

For further information about Kindness or to get involved with programs, e-mail Virginia at vfairb@telus.net or Roxanne at thrift-chopin@telus.net

–– Virginia Fairbrother is a committee member of the Kindness International Student Exchange Program 2012 and an ESL teacher for the smaller group of students.