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How 5,000 Stories Started


As I was falling asleep one night, inspiration struck me like lighting--what if I created a class that combined my passion for Russian literature, history and culture with my passion for the principles of great mentorship I teach in my master class--Mentoring Organic Learners? I called my Russian host sister and asked if she would help me. That's when Stories of Russia was born. Soon after, more ideas for "Stories of..." classes came to mind.


Our Approach is Simple

  1. Read/explore masterpieces of the target country/people with our study guide at home. 

  2. Journal aha moments, thoughts & questions that come to you as you explore each masterpiece.

  3. Share your thoughts and questions with the class; discuss with a mentor who is from, and passionate about, the target country/culture.

Learning traditional Nepali dances 2016. Photo credit: Angel Selden


Principle 1:

Connections, Not Collections

Our top priority is to fuel curiosity and a love of learning; to get youth (and their parents!) excited about the stories of these cultures, as well as the ideas and concepts that come with those stories. We want them to feel a connection with these stories and make cognitive connections with other things they've read and experienced. This class is not about memorizing information. 

Angel Selden (center) with host sisters Lena (l) and Olya (r) in Voronezh, Russia, 1999.

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Principle 2:

Interdisciplinary Learning,

Not Divided by Subject

Great stories and other masterpieces engage the heart, stimulate thinking, and span subject matter. Information is not isolated by subject in real life--everything is interconnected! The masterpieces in this class will span history, geography, culture, language, literature, math, science, psychology, politics, economics, art, music, character, success principles & more!

Principle 3:

Freeform Journaling,
Not worksheets

Every scholar will have different take-aways & opinions of the works we study, and we embrace that! We don't have an agenda for what you are *supposed* to learn from this. Freeform journaling sparks questions, facilitates organic learning and is a great way to process your thoughts. We will provide questions and journal prompts, but you are not required to use these. However, there will be a team quiz game at the end of the session (with questions taken from our study guides and discussions) which is totally just for fun and has been a great way to remember what we've learned. It is a huge hit with the youth!


Earthquake victims living in a shanty town, Kathmandu Nepal 2016.

Photo credit: Angel Selden

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Principle 4:

Discussion, Not Lecture

Scholars come to class prepared to share one question they have about the book/work, as well as their answers to two of the study guide questions. Classes are focused on student discussion, with occasional insights from the mentor. An audio recording of Angel discussing the book/work with the mentor is provided for many explorations. Scholars can listen to the mentors' stories and insights on their own time, before class.

A communist agitator advocates the Bolshevik program to Russian peasants, ~1918-1924. Phot credit: Bettman/Getty Images

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