Olya, the girl pictured in the water, has a few thoughts on Saint-Exupery's quote and a message for the ACES II teachers...

From: Olya Tais232@aol.com
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 1999 09:53:32 EDT
Subject: Re: an idea
To: pweeg@shore.intercom.net

Dear Patti,

I love the idea of these words, but I think it is very hard to "help students long for the sea of knowledge". It would be a noble effort, but it must be taken in account that the students will only accept this kind of help if they want. It means that they should already have some inner potential, some hunger for knowledge from a younger age.

A friend of mine who is 17 does not like to learn anything in any way. It often amazes me how she can look and not see, for example, watch the street and not accidentally read the sign boards, or go through a fashion magazine and not automatically catch by eye any headings. It is not only about the reading ability and observing skills. She is reluctant to knowledge, and she admits that she is 'simply not curious'. I have tried to share with her my burning enthusiasm about learning many times, but she is never interested, and my guess is, she never will be really.

She is not the only one, unfortunately. It's ok, such people follow their own ways, they are happy, but they just don't have an access to the one more source of joy and excitement, the mysterious sea we are talking about. Since those who have bathed in this sea at least once mostly do care about the future of human civilization, the most useful thing for them to do would be to focus their efforts on awakening the inner desire of self-improvement and further evolution in the younger generation. A child should be demonstrated the beauty and value of knowledge since the moment of birth.

The ultimate goal is reached most effectively when kids are gently pushed to associate the idea of learning with the major values they have throughout their childhood. The people respected by children, teaching in a comfortable setting in a play manner are most likely to succeed. This way children can be taught to enjoy knowledge. The learning process have good chances to become self-motivated later. The key factor is that a child should be young enough with his or her mind still opened to suggestions.

Many teenagers, would not tend to saturate themselves with advices from other people due to their rebellious age and desire to become independent. So, it is hard but possible to practice the idea described by Exupery and bred children with a natural longing to educate themselves.

This is what I think. I might be wrong in some aspects, since I am a teenager myself and I probably lack experience to speculate on such matter. However, I realize that everything is relative and that my words carry truth to some extent. ;-D I am sorry for being a little carried away and writing in a kind of scientific matter, but I hope you would understand what I mean to say. I wish you get enough support in executing 'the idea' in real life. Good luck.

Best wishes, Olya

From: Tais232@aol.com
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 1999 22:11:04 EDT
Subject: for the teachers
To: pweeg@shore.intercom.net

For all the teachers:

My name is Olya, I am a Russian girl. I came to U.S. almost two years ago, and I like it here so far. I have known Mrs. Weeg ( I call her Patti ) for at least 10 years. I always loved the projects we worked on together. She taught me American history, her students were my keypals while I was in Russia... I have wonderful memories left of that time. I have heard about you participating in another project, and I want to wish you all good luck. I know it will turn out an incredible experience for everyone taking part in the project!

Best wishes, Olya

Olya's family and I have been online friends since she was just a little girl. At first her daddy translated her messages for us into English. Then, as she grew older and learned more English, she wrote her own. She has written to my students over the years and sent us many beautiful messages about Russia and drawings she made for us.


In 1995 her father, Sergei, asked me to do an online project with her. My students and I shared information about Maryland in a year long project:


In September of 1997 we were fortunate to meet Olya and her family in person when they moved to the United States.


She is a special, special friend. I have watched her grow from a precious little girl into a beautiful, and still precious, young lady. We love her dearly.


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Patti Weeg
The Global Classroom
July 1999