Nothing Is Impossible for a Willing Heart
The 17th session of the International Forum “Gifted Children” took
place on February 16 in Moscow with a 2000 strong children team and international stars of
culture and art. The Forum is held in support of the Federal Project “Children of
Russia” and is set up to be a high point, giving a challenge to children, their parents
and teachers in different spheres of science, culture and art. For five years the Project
has been carried out by the efforts of the staff of the Moscow Humanities Institute. The
motto of the event was “God Bless the History of the Russian Land” and the contestants
were set to report about the various aspects of their genealogical research. The
competitions were held in ten categories, Linguistics being one of them.
Two hundred kids from Moscow and the Moscow region, and 200 more from
across Russia were put together at the event and were given a chance to show their
talents. The tasks of the contest were the following:
1) draw a family tree and show the genealogy of your kinship;
2) get ready to discuss etymological aspects of the English word-stock;
3) compile a dictionary of English borrowings in the Russian vocabulary;
4) describe the most common properties of the national fairy tales’ character.
The competition became even hotter when the founder of the Forum,
professor N.F. Apatenko, a 1991 Soros prize winner herself, declared that the winners of
the contest would he enlisted in the IGUMO free of charge, without entrance exams. The
contestants did their utmost to win in the competition to be called the connoisseurs of
English. But as the saying goes, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Mattew). Great
pains did it take the advanced students to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The
winners were bright, and the losers were praiseworthy as well. The highest, well-deserved
rewards were awarded to the students:
10–11 forms Anastasia Kravtsova, 11th grade, Orekhovo-Zuevo
7–9 forms Alexey Romanov, 8th grade, Moscow
4–6 forms Alyona Zhoukova, 5th grade, Khimky
Profound knowledge, bright intelligence, immense erudition were
revealed by a great number of participants – well, trained-gifted children, among them
I. Kouliba – 9th form, Zheleznodorozhny
A. Masyutin – 7th form, Moscow
O. Mironchikov – 7th form, Moscow
O. Potapova – 11th form, Saransk
A. Roubleva – 7th form, Moscow
G. Salnikov – 9th form, Moscow
E. Soldatova – 11th form, Orekhovo-Zuevo
G. Soloschenko – 9th form, Usman, Lipetsk region
G. Titov – 10th form, Moscow
K. Zavalishina – 7th form, Moscow
We publish extracts from the contestants’ letters in which they share
their impressions and experience. These issues reflect the mood and the spirit of the
competition, the children’s desire to participate and to win.
By Galina Goumovskaya,
Chairman of the Linguistics contest jury
Forum is a magnificent contest.
It’s an exciting event.
This is as joyful as a holiday.
You always want to take part in it again, and again.
You can check your knowledge here,
In different branches of science.
The Jury is really fair
And the Audience is nice.
Forum plays a great role.
It gathers the amateurs of Science and Arts:
Of Linguistics, History, Dancing, Geography.
Forum is very important for us.
Kate Zavalishina, 7th “C” form
Gymasium No. 1542, Moscow
A Good Place to Start from
I have a strong belief that childhood should be protected. There are
many dangers in the world, not only physical, but psychic, too. There are also people who
take the responsibility for protection. I am sure that the Forum is an organization of
people who have an aim to bring up a well-educated and outstanding generation. Youth is a
very delicate period of life, and it needs to be given as much tender treatment as
possible. It’s not a secret that the impressions and points of view we get during our
childhood usually are carried through the whole of life. People who have created this
contest seem to understand it, as they have been trying to help us take things as they
are, support each other and, of course, learn many new things. I came up with an idea that
the Forum is a good place to start. Not only does it let us compare our knowledge, it also
assures us that not everything in our world is sold and there are some sincere things
left. Some of the participants have already taken part in the Forum. It’s clear to me
that they wouldn’t have done it if the contest hadn’t been interesting. I hope I will
have an opportunity to show my abilities at the next Forum as well. I feel we all have
done our best and really deserve the first place – each one of us does. Now it
almost doesn’t matter who is going to take the prize.
As well as for other reasons, the Forum is created to connect people. We can’t
underestimate the necessity of communication. Here we meet people from remote towns of our
country and from the capital; we can exchange our impressions, opinions, and, what’s
very important, share our knowledge.
I won’t describe how I first heard of the Forum, how I prepared the homework and so on.
Instead of it I would like to express my opinion about it. The first question that came up
to my mind when I was suggested to participate was “what for?” But as no one knew the
answer, I had to make it out myself. We gathered here to define the winners. And I really
appreciate the work of people who are going to judge us – just because it is
extremely difficult. We all tried to be better than others, to expose our knowledge.
Nevertheless I can’t say that this contest is a brutal fight for the prize. It is
definitely not. Some of us have found friends among the contestants. People who have
common interests can achieve a lot together. From the beginning I felt that the atmosphere
was very friendly. This was an important thing for all of us, because it let us speak
freely without any useless shyness. What’s more, this gave us a chance for a better
My personal attitude is positive. Although I first heard of the Forum this January, I
decided to take part in it at once. When we were sitting in the hall listening to the
history of the Forum, I understood that it was serious. The Forum is a serious
organization with great intentions. Our main task is to approve of the founders’ trust
in us. Contestants now hope to win and I am among them. It has been said many times, and
people will keep on repeating it forever: participation in more important than victory. We
should believe it. The Forum has brought us something more exciting – the feeling
of being friends, one big family, and the hope of the country. I’m sure that you will
agree that it’s quite a pleasant and at the same time difficult responsibility.
There’s a wise proverb that says, “If gods wish to destroy a person completely, they
claim him to be giving hope”. Anyway I know that no one was going to destroy us, but we
should understand that we will live in this century and it’s in our interests to make it
better. So you can see that the founders of the Forum were looking forward when they
created it. I quess that some of the former and the future participants will try to
continue the traditions of holding the Forum. The perspective looks great and maybe our
children will take part in it many years later, who knows...
Ramila Goubaidullina, 9th form,
School No. 1246, Moscow
Where There is Will...
It is seven o’clock in the morning. With great difficulty I
open my eyes and understand that if I do not want to be late for the train, I have to get
up. I quickly get ready for the journey and leave the house. The morning air is fresh and
cool. The street is unusually guite and unfrequented, only several dog-breeders slowly
walk to and fro with their pets.
I’m approaching the railway station. It is crowded with people, as everyone is hurrying
somewhere. Jolly laugh and excited conversation is heard from the center of the platform.
It means that everybody has already gathered and I hurry up to join them. The teachers and
parents are anxiously counting the children, buying the tickets.
At last the train comes, everybody takes their seats and our journey to the forum
“Gifted Children” begins. A few children are nervously revising the phrases, which
have been already learned by heart, others are carelessly laughing, retelling each other
yesterday’s film, making plans for the weekend.
Soon our journey comes to an end. A five minutes’ walk from the metro station and here
is the building of the Institute. We go upstairs to the third floor. Here we are welcomed
with a kindly smile, like old friends. From the first minute we see how well the
competition is organized.
We take off our clothes and go to the registration desk. After registration we have half
an hour left before the competition begins. So we decide to have lunch and go to the
buffet. Hot, strong coffee and tasty cakes immediately raise our good spirits and we feel
ready to show our knowledge.
Finally, the most important part of our journey begins. We are wished good luck and the
competition starts. The first question, asked by the examiners is: “So, who will
begin?” All participants sit frightened, without even moving. But there appears one
brave fellow. We look at him with interest and admiration, trying to hear the questions of
Several participants have already answered all the questions and with happy faces leave
the room, holding the diplomas in their hands. I take a deep breath and raise my hand. On
approaching the examiners’ table, I feel my thoughts mixing in my head and I seem to
have forgotten everything I knew: the traditions of America and England, my family free,
etymology... But the examiners smile as if they wanted to say: “Cheer up. Don’t
worry!” And so, a minute later I’m discussing the profession of my grandfather and the
beautiful traditions of celebrating the New Year in our country. Having asked some
additional questions and presented the diploma, the examiners let me go and I hurry to
tell my friends about the tasks. On leaving the room I wish good luck to my classmate, who
has just begun his answer. Near the door I meet our teachers and for the second time tell
them about the questions.
Soon the competition is over and all the participants leave the room. We share our
impressions, laugh and joke. At last we can have a sign of relief. The second round of the
competition, that has been so much spoken about, ends. We quickly put on our coats, hats
and gloves, because everyone wants to get home as soon as it’s possible. Nobody is now
thinking that next week we shall be sadly sitting near the telephone waiting for the call
because everybody is eager to continue this exciting journey and to feel himself a little
Irina Dvoyashova, 11th form, School No. 13
How to Enlarge Our Knowledge of the World Outside
The Forum held in Moscow under the heading “Gifted Children” is a
unique event, which has already been taking place for several years. Its motto is: “For
great morality in the 21st century”. Morality is a system of moral principles; it is
essentially a many-sided phenomenon. It includes a lot of notions: man, his interrelation
with other people, his attitude towards the environment. Each human being is a unique
individual who has never existed before and will never exist again, with entirely his own
character, mind, soul, and world outlook.
It’s common knowledge that all of us pass different stages in our life: first –
nursery school, then primary and secondary school where you gradually become a grown-up.
And alongside the course of our life we increase our knowledge of the outside world. We
always long to know more about ourselves and the surrounding environment.
The Forum “Gifted Children” gives us a possibility to a real evaluation of our
knowledge. Here we can meet lots of children from various parts of our country, wishing to
test their level of proficiency in different fields of studies, to bring their knowledge
to light, and compete with the other contestants in the great diversity of categories:
art, choreography, economics, linguistics, and many others.
A contest is an exam where you must reveal your abilities, determination, and the depth of
Still, the Forum is not only a place of competition. Here children can find good,
interesting friends. And I really wish to express our great gratitude to its initiators. I
hope that henceforward the Forum “Gifted Children” will be held annually and discover
more and more talents for our great Russia.
Olga Nikitushkina, 11th form,
School No. 1, Likino-Dulyovo
A New Experience for a Regular Competitor
“Forum” – it sounds solemn and festive. They call it a
holiday of the soul, with fireworks of abilities. Russia will not become scant of talents.
l think that the Forum founders were right to organise it and the sponsors to help us,
because there are so many talented children in our mother country; but most of them are
unable to show their abilities. So, it is a great present to those who want and are able
I had learned the information about this Forum just a few days before it began; so I
decided to join the children trying to win the Grand-Prix. I knew it would be difficult to
take part in it; but anyway, l have always been a competitor. l like to take part in all
competitions. I am not always successful, but this is my problem. Sometimes l think l just
waste my time, but now I understand that it is not true. While l was preparing for this
contest I learned a great deal of new facts that enlarged my outlook and l hope it will
help me in my future life. l don’t think I’m the only one who has looked through
plenty of literature; l know that everyone, who considered themselves to be educated
enough to take part in, became more experienced having extended their knowledge of
I felt at home there. Besides I had a chance to see different students from my country. l
had a chance to compare the way I talk to the way other students do. It was my first
speech in front of the audience, and I think this experience can help me because next year
I’m going to enter a university.
We do it not just for somebody, but for people who are interested in it, and ourselves
too, because we have already won. The prize is only a thing that certifies your victory.
But here are no losers, because everyone struggled, everyone showed his ability, and
everybody enjoyed the Forum; so we all are winners in our own ways. Nobody can present you
knowledge, except yourself. In Russia there were always a lot of talented people; there is
a great deal now too and I think there always will be. The Forum proved it once again. I
didn’t think I would meet so many children there, and now l know we will make our mother
Maxim Zviaguintsev, 10th form,
School 21, Moscow
If they light stars –
Does it mean it is necessary
for a person?
While preparing our assignments we had to refer to various sources of
information, doing our best to learn as much as possible about the language we study, its
structure and development, as well as about the history of English-speaking countries and
their customs and traditions. If not for the assignment of drawing our family roots, I’d
hardly get involved in my ancestry. The assignment turned to be involving and exciting not
only for me but for my family as well. My parents did their best to bring to their memory
as much as possible about our ancestors. This activity brought all the members of my
We’ve been discussing our Forum activity all the way back home. I was very pleased to
learn that I was admitted to participate in the following round. Perhaps, the most
important thing for me is the fact that I’ve gained more experience and made many new
friends to share my worries and joys.
Alexandra Kalinina, 10th form
Gymnasium No. 14, Linguist Club,
Orehovo-Zuevo, Moscow region
I worked hard to take part in this Forum. I have read some English
books during this time. One of them was Robinson Crusoe. I wrote a song about
Robinson. I wrote a story about my family and my relatives.
Robinson, a seaman,
In a storm didn’t lose his head,
Swam and swam
Reached the shore.
Suddenly he saw a tree
And he climbed upon it one, two, three.
He built a house of wood
And sewed nice skin clothes.
Tasty fruit he liked to eat
And his parrot could speak.
Misha Perov, 4th form,
School No. 13, Zhukovsky
I like the fact that participants of the forum can not only compete
with each other but also see the works and compositions of other children from different
cities in all nominations. At the exposition we can see the best art works made by the
participants. During the concert in Ismaylovo all the participants and their teachers and
parents could see the best choreographic compositions and short plays.
I used to attend the ballroom dances club and it was very pleasant for me to watch really
majestic compositions. I am also fond of drawing and so I enjoyed the exposition of
pictures greatly and some of them really impressed me.
11th form, School No. 13,
Zhukovsky, “Linguist Club”
Despite all this positive comment I’d like the hosts to pay more
attention to organisation of the process of the contest itself. It was rather tiresome to
wait for being asked. To my mind, every participant should have a table with a number on
it. So that he is aware when it is his turn to answer. Furthermore, I’d like to see more
people in the jury.
9th form, Gymnasium No. 1528, Zelenograd
“How rich Russia is in good people!” – said Chekhov. He was
right. Since the day of its foundation to the present moment Russia has abounded in good
people. I’m happy that in our alarming time their number doesn’t fall, but it grows.
The rector of IGUMO, N.F. Apatenko can serve as a bright example of that. Thanks to her,
hundreds of gifted children from every corner of our vast country could earn the
recognition of their talent. Rephrasing the above quotation we could say “How rich
Russia is in good children”.
Ilya Yozefovich, 8th form,
Moscow, Club of Linguists
When my mother and I were going home we thought, that I wouldn’t take
part in the next round because I take part in the competition for the first time. But soon
we learnt that I got 10 points and was allowed to take part in the next round. My mother,
my father, my brother, my grandmother, my uncle Alex and especially I – all my
family were so happy.
I don’t think it’s so awful if I won’t take part in the finals. This Forum gave me
an opportunity to check up on my knowledge. This small examination showed that I have
already achieved a little progress in learning English. And it is more interesting for me
to study English now.
My mother says it’s my first victory. I would like to thank the Forum for this little
holiday in my life.
Kate Mejova, 5th form,
School No. 1530, Moscow
Frankly speaking, I could never imagine myself to be chosen for the
third round. It was my father who brought me the wonderful news. Firstly, I couldn’t
believe my luck, but when I realised that, it was overwhelming and exciting at the same
It’s a pity, I’ll not be able to take part in this competition ever again. I am a
student of the eleventh form. I do believe this Forum is exceptionally important. It is so
great that a child has this opportunity to assess the level of his knowledge and
abilities. In addition, this is the greatest stimulus and motivation in my live.
11 th form, School No. 1276
Club Mr. English, Moscow
The previous year I was lucky to have won the second place in English
and French. And of course it was an unforgettable experience, a great event for me. Now I
know how to work seriously, how to organise myself.
I understood that to master English it was necessary not only to communicate but learn
much from books, as famous linguists advised, and of course to take part in such
It’s a good chance to express yourself and to be compared with others.
And it goes without saying that your victory depends on your hard work, your knowledge.
Because language is like music, you can’t play a rhapsody, something very complex,
unconstrained and free, something that is “manipulated” with grace and charm, without
a long and painstaking practice of the dull and uninteresting scales; the same is with
language. You can’t recite Shakespeare’s sonnets, and take part in such discussions,
without long hard work, and sometimes dull work with grammar and phonetic exercises.
Victory in the Linguistics competition is a great reward for that work.
Irina Koolyba, School No. 13, 9th form,
In the course of preparation work I found out a lot of interesting
things about my family. I was captivated by drawing out my family tree. I did not think
that my ancestors had such rare Russian names as Pelagea, Vassa and Stephan. I have learnt
that my great grandfather and grandfather took part in the most significant battles
against Nazis. My second grandfather was a Professor of Medicine.
I would like to mention that I am fond of historic novels. And while preparing for the
discussion I read the novel Ivanhoe by the famous Scottish writer Walter Scott in
English. The content of the novel impressed me greatly. I could not imagine that drawing
out a dictionary was so exciting!
Olga Bagriantseva, School No. 4, 6th form, Khimki
I started my work on the assignment with a usual everyday activity of
gaining various pieces of information – the work every student got used to in his
studies. And as the gained information grew, the work turned out to be more and more
involving and every detail was in a need of more serious attention. As a result the work
grew into a kind of personal creation.
As for me, I enjoyed drawing my family roots, putting it into the shape demanded for a
creative approach. I have learned much new and exciting while working on my project about
the festivals and traditions of Great Britain that have much in common with those of
Russia. And the most unusual activity for me was the task of making up a list of
borrowings. I had to work hard in the library and ask my friends and relatives to the
point of complete exhaustion. I was delighted to involve myself into an activity
concerning the problem out of secondary-school subject-matter.
I’d like to say many thanks to those who organised this wonderful project that gave
children a chance to take part and win. Thank you very much!
Evgeniya Soldatova, 11th form,
Gymnasium No. 14, Orehovo-Zuevo
Unfortunately, we were informed about the Forum too late and I had only
two weeks to get ready for it. Therefore the preparations were rather difficult, but all
this time I kept reminding myself that “industriousness is the mother of good luck”...
...After I finished answering, I felt enormous relief. The contest was over and I could go
home. Then there was a period of anticipation, while I was waiting for the results. To be
honest, I hoped that I had done well at the Forum. I was so pleased and excited when I was
told that I had got the highest mark, and I was very glad that two of my classmates had
also got through into the third round.
The Forum helped me to understand that it is necessary to work hard if you want to
succeed. The great Russian writer Turgenev said that “to be a success one needed to have
one percent talent and ninety nine percent industriousness”. I am sure that everyone has
one percent talent, so if I want to do well in studying foreign languages and show good
results at competitions, I should use ninety nine percent industriousness.
Alyona Zhoukova, 5th form,
School No. 4, Club of Linguists,Khimki
Frankly speaking, I have never thought myself to be an exceptionally
gifted child. But I’ve been always eager to try myself not only in school competitions,
but also in something more significant. And it was the Forum “Gifted Children” that
gave Russian pupils a wonderful opportunity to bring their knowledge to light. And I am
extremely happy to have participated in the contest.
To my mind, competitions of this kind are constructive and worthwhile, as they help to
evaluate one’s abilities to a real degree. And in the future this will certainly prove
beneficial in choosing one’s line in life.
Olga Schelina, 7th form,
School No. 1, Likino-Dulyovo
The homework was very interesting, especially “Family Tree”. Our
family has always wanted to make it. Some materials had already been collected even before
I learnt about the Forum. My parents helped me to do the task so we enjoyed every moment
working together. I’ve learnt the history of my family, many interesting things about my
ancestors. It is amazing how the history of my family is connected with the history of my
I felt that we were treated with great respect and I realised myself as a part of the
future of Russia. It is really rewarding and it demands responsibility. It is really
wonderful that such competitions take place. They should be held more often. It is a great
opportunity to show yourself and to be supported. It is a big promotion for gifted
children in their future. I would like this Forum to be continued and extended to allow
more young people to take part in it and to show their abilities. I am sure such events
develop young people, ensure them that they are necessary for their Motherland.
Grigory Titov, 10th form,
School No. 398, Moscow
I also liked the vast programme and the tasks of the Forum. They were
very interesting and exciting, though not easy. It took me a lot of efforts to search for
the material for our discussion on etymology, to make up a famous linguist’s monologue
addressed to modern youth. I had to work hard but I have learned much new for myself. For
example, making up a list of English borrowings while preparing for the discussion on
etymology I learned more than 250 new English words and traced and understood their
origin. Now I know that it is very important to study the history of a foreign language if
you want to learn it perfectly. I am going to learn the history of English and German now.
I think that this wonderful Forum was a holiday of young talents and a good school for all
the competitioners. It helped us brush up on our knowledge, widen our outlook and make
some steps forward.
And I would like to thank the organizers, the teachers who put their heads and souls into
the job, the respectable jury and the sponsors – all those people who gave us such
a great gift and who take care of the education of youth in our country.
8th form, Starokupavinsky Lyceum,
Staraya Kupavna, Moscow region
I am very proud of the thought that there are so many talented children
in Russia. They can do a lot of things: they paint beautiful pictures; they are very good
at designing clothes; dancing; making really professional photos; etc. This is a holiday
which helps us to define our steps in the future, to enrich ourselves with friends, to be
creative in work and to find ways of self-improvement.
It is difficult to believe that I’ll win this competition, but this isn’t that
important, because even my participation is already a victory. I am proud to be a small
part of this wonderful event.
Many thanks to everyone who initiated and arranged this Forum. Let the Forum help all
talented children to develop their great abilities and to make people happy by their
discoveries and wonderful works!
Sasha Dmitrieva, 7th form,
School No. 1289, Moscow
While preparing for the Forum, I came across several approaches to the
young generation of people. The first one is: “Our youth aren’t good at all! They
aren’t polite and well-bred. They aren’t proud of old men and of their country”.
The second one is: “I’m afraid of the future of my country. The rising generation
thinks a lot of themselves. And actually they are worthless”. You can believe in it
easily. But... The latter quotion was taken from Socrat (he lived three thousand years
ago) and the former one was written on the wall of a pyramide in Egypt. As we see, a lot
of great poets, composers, artists, inventors and dancers lived after those words were
said or written. So, without any doubt, we can say, that our youth are the stand-by of the
country and even of the world.
George Salnicov, 10th form,
Classical Orthodox School in Hovrino, Moscow
Everything has past. I can’t imagine how it happened. Afterwards,
what pleasure it is to realise that nowadays children are eager for knowledge, some of
them know for sure what they want from this life. And as for the Forum – it makes
children feel strong. We all learn something, become steady. In general, I am very much
obliged to the Forum. Knowledge is the way to success, and what success!
Julia Shalaeva, 8th form,
Gymnasium No. 1543, Moscow
The teacher that talked to me was very pleasant, she made me feel
comfortable and related. I felt that I could talk to her for hours. We spoke for 10 or 15
minutes, but it only felt like 5. She was very thoughtful and asked me questions about my
life, my family; and we spoken on the themes that were familiar to me: my hobbies, my
occupation, and the list of words that I had written.
The children worried about making mistakes. But the teachers at the Forum tried to
understand what everyone was saying without interrupting them. This, in my opinion, helped
the children to relax.
As for me, this Forum not only tested our knowledge of the English language, but it tested
the strength of our spirit. There will be many competitions in our life, but this was the
first one, that is why I am happy, that I am in the third round. It gives me confidence in
myself and a desire to take part in all future forums.
6th form, School No. 4, Khimki