The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 4, 2010

CCHS – Turkmenistan connection continues

The green light has been given for continued student visits between Turkmenistan and the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS). English teacher Dr. David Nurenberg came before the Regional School Committee (RSC) on May 25 asking permission for two exchange students from Turkmenistan to attend CCHS during the fall semester. In addition, he requested permission for a CCHS student trip to Turkmenistan over February break in 2011. The RSC approved both proposals. A delegation of Turkmenistan teachers is also expected to visit CCHS in October.

Turkmenistan is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iran. It is roughly the size of California, 80% of the land is desert, the population is about five million and it is mostly Sunni Muslim. The spoken language is Turkmen. Students learn Russian and some English is taught.

Nurenberg has been building a relationship with the high school’s sister city school in Turkmenistan, Balkanabat School #17. CCHS Principal Peter Badalament praised Nurenberg saying, “He has cultivated a unique relationship with the State Department over the last few years.” CCHS hosted two exchange students from Turkmenistan for fall semesters in 2008 and 2009. Nurenberg said, “They have gone back and reported a transformational experience. The State Department noticed.”

Host families needed next fall

The two Turkmen students in the next exchange will arrive in late August and return in February. Nurenberg is currently “actively and urgently” looking for host families for these students, one girl and one boy. “It’s a great opportunity for a genuine diplomatic exchange.” He said, “The previous host families had a marvelous experience.”

Interested in traveling to Balkanabat?

The RSC gave Nurenberg permission to plan a trip for two to four CCHS students for about ten days over February break next year. Students must demonstrate that they can handle challenging circumstances that might be presented on the trip. Nurenberg stressed that lining up visas and State Department approval may be difficult and that bureaucratic issues could cancel the trip.

The cost per student, mostly airfare, is estimated at $2,500. Students will stay with host families. The cost of chaperones is distributed across the number of students. With such a small group going, this could add almost $2,000 to each student’s cost. However, Nurenberg is counting on the State Department to subsidize at least half of the trip, which would bring the final student cost down to roughly $2,200, which would be in line with other CCHS trips. Nurenberg said he was open to accepting applications from CCHS alumni.

Teachers exchange visits

The successful student exchange led to a delegation of American teachers visiting the Asian nation this past February. Seven CCHS teachers and three Charlestown teachers made up the group. Nurenberg explained, “The trip became much higher profile. Our teachers became official guests of the country” and spent much more time than expected with the National Institute of Education. He showed a ten-minute video from the trip. ( The CCHS teachers were part of forums and roundtable discussions on education. They experienced the culture and team-taught a few classes with their Turkmen counterparts (see “The CCHS-Turkmenistan connection deepens,” Mosquito, April 4).

Nuremberg said ten teachers from Turkmenistan will come to CCHS and Charlestown in late October to be hosted by American teachers. He is working with the State Department on this and is hoping the Concord and Carlisle communities will provide a warm welcome for the visitors. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito