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SUNY Plattsburgh Geography Professor Travels to Russia

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ Calling it a "life-long dream," Dr. John Moravek, associate professor of geography at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, prepares to head to Russia April 10 for a 10-day trip as part of the People to People Ambassador Program.

Dr. John Moravek Moravek will join his daughter, Jane Avon Yessak, a fifth grade teacher in the Albuquerque, N.M. Public School System who was selected as a participant in the program.

The People to People Ambassador Program was established in the late 1950s when the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower believed that ordinary citizens of different nations could help solve their differences and find a way to live in peace. The program has flourished and continues to send delegates from different countries to other parts of the world.

Moravek said he has a special affinity for this part of the world, in part because his paternal grandparents were originally from Slovakia, a former Soviet satellite region.

"It really is a life-long dream for me to travel to Russia, to experience the culture and rub elbows with the Russians on their own turf," Moravek said. "It will also relate to my professional and personal interest."

Moravek holds a minor in Russian history and geology. A faculty member at Plattsburgh State since 1969, Moravek taught about the geography of the Soviet Union until 1991. Since the collapse of the former communist republic, the course has been renamed "Geography of the Former Soviet Union." He anticipates that the personal visit will infuse the new course offering with fresh perspectives and insights. He is also working on a new course about the historical and cultural geography of Russia that he plans to offer beginning Spring 2005.

Moravek, his daughter and 25 other members of the delegation will depart from New York's JFK Airport bound for Moscow April 10. Among many sights and meetings during the 10-day tour, the delegation will visit the Kremlin, Red Square and Assumption Cathedral in Moscow.

They will also visit St Petersburg Academy of the Post Graduate Pedagogical Education, several state schools, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Winter Palace, Hermitage Museum and the Palace and Park Ensemble of Tsarskoye Selo (former country residence of Russian emperors) in St. Petersburg.

The delegation will return to New York on April 19.

"To say the least, I am really looking forward to spending Easter Sunday in Moscow," said Moravek. "That will be great."

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