Peace Through Paddling: A Russian Teacher’s Legacy

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Peace Through Paddling: A Russian Teacher’s Legacy

Vladimir Abrosimov, a dedicated teacher who spent more than two decades building friendship between the United States and Russia in partnership with Chewonki, passed away on November 8th, 2020, at the age of 71.

Abrosimov organized summer trips to Chewonki for more than eighty Russian children between 1990 and 2005 through the Komi Peace Fund. He also led five Chewonki expeditions to Russia and was awarded the Golden Medal of Russian Peace for his volunteerism and commitment to international exchange.

“Vladimir was a very active, purposeful, and cheerful person,” writes Anatoly Poleshcuk, who co-lead two trips with Abrosimov. “[He] was a wonderful school teacher of Physics and a classroom teacher.” During his travels to Chewonki, Abrosimov would stay on as support staff for both camp and the maintenance crew, pitching in wherever needed. Staff and campers alike often noted his kindness, attitude, and willingness to lend a hand.

Abrosimov organized the camp exchanges through the Komi Peace Fund, of which he was an active member. The last exchange was in 2006. Along with our former boys camp director Dick Thomas and his wife Karen Dilley, Abrosimov led ten Chewonki campers on a five-week tour of Russia. The trip included sightseeing tours of Moscow and Syktyvkar (capital of the Komi Republic), homestays with Russian families, hiking and paddling at a Russian summer camp, and a trip to the Pechora-Ilych Nature Preserve, the largest virgin forest in Europe and a World Heritage Site. During the expedition, the Komi Peace Fund awarded Thomas and Dilley a Gold Medal for Chewonki’s commitment to Russian exchanges.

“Our camp community has certainly benefited from the presence of Vladimir and his campers all these years. I hope the trip reminded all of our campers that we are more alike than we are different and that it helped promote a greater understanding of our global connectivity,” said Garth Altenburg, former director of Camp Chewonki. 

The Komi region was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. The New York Times reported last April that Syktyvkar had become a hotbed for the infection due to the city’s failure to isolate exposed and symptomatic individuals. 

According to Polishuk, Abrosimov was infected and killed by the virus after returning from a Kirovski region medical spa. He is survived by his wife Natalia, two children, and grandchildren.

We will remember Abrosimov for his unwavering commitment to peace, friendship, and understanding between cultures and the dozens of transformative learning experiences he facilitated for kids in Russia and the United States. “[Abrosimov’s work] is about discovering new challenges, figuring out how to overcome new and foreign obstacles, and discovering something new about yourself in the process,” writes Altenburg. 

If you have memories or photos of Vladimir, please email alumni@chewonki.org, and we will share these with his family.