Buses Get Touring Pupils to Costa Mesa : Traffic Costs Soviet Students 3 1/2 Hours

Times Staff Writer

When the middle-school students from the Soviet Union finally stepped off the yellow school buses, 3 1/2 hours late Tuesday night, their counterparts from a Costa Mesa junior high school--who had fruit, brownies and soda pop waiting for them in a hotel banquet room--were elated.

“They’re here! They’re here,” exclaimed a group of TeWinkle Intermediate School students who had raced back to deliver the news to adults and fellow students waiting for the Soviet youths inside the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa.

About 25 students from the Costa Mesa school are hosts for 2 days to 50 Soviet pupils and teachers from Troitsk, a city about 25 miles southeast of Moscow, who are visiting the United States as part of an exchange program arranged by Oakland schoolteacher Peter Hutcher. They were accompanied on the trip to Orange County by about 25 of Hutcher’s students.

A special presentation arranged by TeWinkle teacher Steven Pinney, a friend of Hutcher’s, had been planned for 4 p.m. But Pinney got word that heavy traffic had delayed the two busloads of Soviet and Oakland students and their adult chaperones in their trip from Monterey. When they had not arrived by 6 p.m., both Pinney and the students began to fret.


Some of the youngsters milled about the hotel lobby, looking anxiously for any sign of their guests until the aging buses pulled up shortly after 7:30 p.m.

As a result, Pinney cut short the special program and the Soviet youngsters were soon matched with their host families and sent off to prepare for a dizzying round of activities.

Today, a trip to Disneyland is scheduled. A trip to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is planned Thursday morning, before the Soviet students and their Oakland friends return to the Bay Area at noon.

Soviet student Ilya Kuzkin was not fazed by their busy schedule.


“I like it all,” said Kuzkin, 13.

“That’s my friend,” he said pointing across the room. Kevin McDonald, 12, from Oakland came over and put his arm around him.

“All of these children are better than we adults,” Soviet scientist Sasha Gorlenkov said through an interpreter. “They make friends easier, since they are openhearted.”