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Brief biography

Olga was born in 1948 in Blagoveshensk, Russia. Her mother, Nadezhda Zakharovna, was a psychology teacher at pedagogical university, and her father, Michail Ivanonich, served in the military. It was a common practice in the USSR for military people and their families to move from place to place following orders of assignments. Michail Diachenko’s family was no exception and moved to Leningrad and then to Moscow.

Olga was brought up by her grandmother, Varvara Emelyanovna Michailovskaya, who, having a gymnasium school education, got Olga acquainted with classic works of Russian and foreign authors.  As a preschooler, Olga already knew poems of Lermontov, Pushkin, Tolstoy and others. Varvara Emelyanovna also told many things about life of different social classes in pre-revolutionary Russia, thus forming in the child’s mind a complex image of social interactions. Olga’s grandmother had a critical thinking. She had no regard for authorities and could see a person apart from his or her social position. Gymnasium school education governed Varvara Emelyanovna’s everyday life. She was careful about housework and herself: not only had she kept house clean and tidy and composed healthy diet, but also practiced good hygiene. Varvara Emelyanovna kept her looks even in old age – at 82 she cared for her manicure and was attentive to her clothing. These qualities have passed on to Olga.

Olga was lively and inquisitive girl. Nadezhda Zakharovna was very worried about Olga having bad appetite and not being plump. However, agility and bright mind earned Olga leadership in the eyes of both school teachers and peers from the first days of school. During the school years Olga was an A-student and showed independence in her thoughts and actions. This was especially vivid at literature classes.

Having graduated with excellence from musical school, Olga went to a school to work as a music assistant. After graduation from Moscow’s high school # 620, she entered newly established faculty of psychology at Moscow State University. Meetings with preschool children have influenced her choice of scientific tutor. She began to write term papers under the scientific tutorship of L.A. Venger, whom had invited Olga to work as a junior researcher at his laboratory right after her graduation from the university.

Olga was well accepted in the laboratory, where everyone had softly called her Olechka or Olyenka. She had never regretted choosing the laboratory she eventually headed where she had worked till her last days, having had grown from junior researcher to doctor of psychology and a corresponding member of Russian Academy of Education.

While in school, Olga got friends with Tatiana Veraksa, who later became a renowned artist. Olga was an often guest in Tatiana’s home, particularly because they lived practically next door to each other. It was there where Olga met her future husband, Tatiana’s brother Nikolay. After they got married they had a son Alexey, who later had chosen to be a biologist.

At first, Nikolay Evgenyevich had worked at the Institute of preschool education of USSR Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, and after that at department of psychology of Lenin Moscow City Pedagogical Institute. In 1981 he was assigned to Cuba and went there with Olga and little Alexey. They lived in Santiago De Cuba where Nikolay had worked as a scientific consultant at a department of psychology of local university. To Olga this trip to Cuba was also unforgettable. At that time, there was close cooperation between the Soviet Union and Cuba, and Cuban specialists were trained at Venger’s laboratory. Naturally, all of those Cuban specialists knew Olga as a talented scientist and treated her with respect and sincere affection. Consequently, when Olga arrived to Cuba as a wife of Nikolay Evgenievich, her Cuban colleagues were eager to offer her active participation in their work. For example, she had frequently traveled from Santiago De Cuba to Havana to conduct classes and lectures for Cuban specialists. This was an outstanding practice for a soviet specialist working in Cuba. While in Cuba, Olga always kept in touch with her laboratory and received great many letters from all the laboratory members and colleagues, especially from L.A. Venger.

By her return to Moscow, Olga gave birth to her second son Alexander, who later followed his parent’s steps and became a psychologist.

Olga led active creative and scientific life. She was a jovial, friendly person, was in correspondence with many people, frequently went to international conferences and invited foreign colleagues to her home.

In 1975, under scientific advisory of L.A. Venger, Olga defended Ph.D. thesis “The use of schematic image in preschool age”. In 1990 she successfully defended her doctoral thesis “Development of imagination in preschool age. In 1992 Olga was chosen a corresponding member of Russian Academy of Education.

Diachenko Olga

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