Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 3

Today we conducted interpretive and cultural sensitivity training.  We were joined by a number of the park rangers and conducted a number of exercises that challenged our understanding of race and racism in the United States.  This program helps to sensitize the students to other cultures and makes sure that the Rangers and students are on the same page in terms of interpreting the multicultural community and other aspects of cultures to the public.  While some of the exercises are difficult and there is always a variety of opinions and perspectives, it is good to build a culture of understanding and courtesy to address the needs of visitors that come from different countries, different ethnic and  economic backgrounds, and to try to connect with the visitors.  Our goal is that everyone coming to the Village and Fort this summer will feel welcome and have the best chance to understand and appreciate the amazing history of this national park.  Perhaps the best message is that the national park belongs to all Americans and should be enjoyed by all Americans in perpetuity.  This sensitivity training helps us to do that very difficult job.
Public Archaeology Field School, Chkalov Cultural Exchange Committee members,
and National Park Service Rangers at the Chkalov Monument at Pearson Air Museum.

We also had the unique opportunity to visit the Chkalov Monument just on the outside of Pearson Air Museum where we will have our lectures.  Jess Frost, of the Valery Chkalov Cultural Exchange Committee provided some valuable information on the historical significance of the Chkalov flight, the first transpolar flight that left from Moscow on June 18 and arrived in Vancouver, Washington at the Army Air Corp field (Pearson Field) on June 20, 1937. The Russian aviators were met by Gen. George C. Marshall, who was in command of the post then and ran the local Civilian Conservation Corps (a depression era program that put young men to work in the 1930s and early 1940s).  Mr. Frost explained how Chkalov had compared the United States and Russia to the two great Rivers, the Volga and the Columbia River and how both flowed into the same waters of the seas of the world.  A brief history by Frost is at the Committees web site.

The monument dates to the time of Détente in 1974 when there was a thaw in the cold war.  It has been at Pearson Air Museum on National Park Service property since the 1990s. On Saturday, students will attend a bilingual presentation (Russian and English) on the significance of the Chkalov flight.  Today, some of the students joined Committee members and National Park Service Rangers in laying flowers on the monument in honor of the 76th anniversary of the flight.
Members of the Chkalov Cultural Exchange Committee,
National Park Service Rangers, and field school students laid
flowers at the Chkalov Monument.

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