Twenty Russian track and field athletes and their coaches from the Krasnodar Region are visiting Dulaney High students this week.
The Russian students, who are staying with the families of Dulaney students during the eight-day stay that began Sunday, are sightseeing and plan to participate with 33 Maryland high school teams in Friday's Pangea International Indoor Track and Field competition at the 5th Regiment Armory.
Pangea, based in Bethesda, sponsors visits between U.S. and Russian athletes to promote understanding.
Among the Baltimore County high schools competing are Dulaney, Catonsville, Lansdowne, Owings Mills, Parkville and Perry Hall.
"I had an opportunity to go to Russia for a similar type of experience last summer," said Dulaney athletic director Bob Dean, who visited Moscow and Ekateringberg.
"I met quite a few Russian student-athletes, and I've had a couple of the students stay in contact with me. I've followed their careers," Dean said. "I feel that this is a wonderful way for our cultures to understand each other, and they end up having a greater appreciation for their own countries."
The students spent last week with Smithsburg High students iHagerstown. Dean collaborated with Barbara Salkin, president of Pangea, and vice president Jerry Kline to set up the host family arrangements and the schedule of events, which included yesterday's training session -- the first of three -- with the Dulaney High runners. The Russians will compete on their own team.
Earlier in the day, they visited the Aquarium and the Baltimor Museum of Industry. "It was the first day that we got together and everything's worked out fine," Dean said.
Russians Igor Sterhove, 15, and Anton Lvov, 16, both 200- and 60-meter runners who also compete in relay events, were enjoying their visit here.
"It [sightseeing] was good. We saw sharks, dolphins and some other kinds of fish -- very many fish," said Sterhove, who added that he enjoyed both his present host family and the one he had in Hagerstown.
"They're very nice to me."
Today, the students are scheduled to visit the Science Center, followed tomorrow with Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Lexington Market and Johns Hopkins University. After practice, there will be a pot luck supper at Dulaney in their honor.
But Stacy Sympson, 16, a junior middle-distance runner, has additional plans for host student Irina Dikova, who competes in the same events as Sympson.
"I'm probably going to take her shopping at Towson Town Center. She says that she wants a pair of blue jeans, probably Levi's," said Sympson, who already has taken Dikova to McDonald's. "Last night, I had a couple of people over, some of whom spoke Russian. Irina speaks English well enough that I don't need a dictionary."
The rest of the schedule includes a visit Thursday to the Naval Academy and the State House, and on Friday, going through a routine day at Dulaney High followed by the track meet at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, the students will spend the day with their host families before leaving Sunday.