Leonid Aleksandrovich, how did you know you were “expelled”?
Leonid Shchukin: I spent this Saturday morning near the school with our diplomats. Of course, we were not surprised by the plans of the Polish authorities to remove the building from the educational institution. But no one knew it would happen on that day and at that hour. We thought that if that happened, then everything would be completely different from what happened in reality.
Leonid Shchukin: Yes, more civilized, somehow more human. After all, it’s a school, kids. Thank goodness it was a day off and there were no students at school.
In fact, all decisions about an urgent move were made from the sheet?
Leonid Schukin: Of course. Negotiations took place with the Polish side, we were only given until six o’clock in the evening to collect our belongings and leave the school. And we did it successfully.
After all, the teachers lived on the territory of the school. How did they manage to settle in a new place now?
Leonid Shchukin: Yes, before all the teachers lived in the same building where the school was. Now the Russian Embassy has given us apartments in a residential building. We packed our things, loaded them onto the bus, moved on, and now we’re comfortable, cozy. At the same time, we are also preparing the school for the return to work.
In a new place?
Leonid Shchukin: Yes, now the school will be located on the territory of the embassy residential complex, there will be classes. We have already moved the training material, now we put it back in its place. And soon we will be ready to start teaching all children from grades one through eleven. By the way, the guys are happy that the school is now within walking distance of the house. And they don’t have to spend time on the road like before.
Is there enough space for all students?
Leonid Schukin: Yes, of course. Now we don’t have many students, about forty. Nevertheless, we are a normal school, a full-fledged team that teaches grades one through eleven. We have qualified teachers in all subjects, people are motivated.
The Polish side was only given a few hours to pack up and leave school. From now on, classes will be temporarily placed in the residential complex of the Russian Embassy
And how is the preparation of the students going for the exams under such conditions, how is this whole situation going to affect them?
Leonid Schukin: In terms of content, the guys are ready for the exams. Technically, we are almost ready. The school has a building, equipment and computers are being installed, which are used for the exam. We have already carried out simulations of federal exams, everything went well. We install a CCTV system, which is a mandatory requirement for final certification.
After all, it’s not just the children of diplomats who study at your school, is it?
Leonid Schukin: Yes, our school is international. Nearly half of the students are not children of embassy employees. There are guys from Belarus, there are only Russian citizens who live in Poland.
Will nothing change for them?
Leonid Shchukin: It was decided that all children, without exception, will complete the school year, all will take part in exams. In other words, all students will continue their studies as usual. Parents have already been informed of this and many want their children to continue their studies and receive a Russian education.
And how to get to school at the embassy?
Leonid Schukin: All you have to do is submit an application. After that, it will be coordinated with the personnel department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, then, if there are free places, the ambassador issues an order for registration. And the child receives Russian state education in Russian. However, it is completely free.
In a context of anti-Russian hysteria in Poland, have you or your students been threatened or attacked by the inhabitants?
Leonid Schukin: No, it wasn’t. The kids never told us about it. Our school was in a quiet area, the locals were very friendly, we always said hello. Neither I nor my colleagues have ever encountered any negative manifestations. The human attitude towards us is normal, there is no ideological hatred.
How long have you worked at this school? Do you have any trouble with what happened?
Leonid Schukin: I’ve been working here for two years now. Of course, what happened is unfortunate. The teachers are always attached to the school. Leaving even in a normal situation is not easy. And the way it all happened is unpleasant, of course, insulting, because so much effort has been invested. But the children stayed, we teachers stayed. We are ready to teach children anywhere.
Do you think the embassy school will ever return to the building seized by the Polish authorities?
Leonid Schukin: It is unlikely that the school will be in this building again. But I’m sure that one day a new house will be built for our school.
Leonid Alexandrovich, let me ask you a provocative question. Now, as large-scale deportations of our diplomats take place, there are fewer Russian children abroad. What future do embassy schools have?
Leonid Shchukin: You know, it is often said that we spend too much on education. But you can’t say that! Whether there are many children or few, the school must be good. If we talk about the embassy school, then any foreign institution is inferior without it. Employees come to work with families, children, you can’t leave them without a normal education. So there have been, there are and there will be schools attached to diplomatic missions. And temporary difficulties can be overcome. Our school has a very rich history, both teachers and students have invested their souls in it for generations. So she has a future. Now colleagues from all over the world, parents, children call me. Offer any help and support. We do not feel forgotten. Everything is fine with us.
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