Notes from the Field: Russia
I cannot believe that two weeks have gone by already. More importantly, the students cannot believe it either! They have continued to learn and grow in so many ways. Yesterday we went to a puppet/fantasy museum called “Small World.” Not only did the kids find it interesting on many levels, but they were also able to follow the vast majority of the tour in Russian! They even asked some questions of our guide, who is the director of and one of the major artists for the museum. Where they looked shell-shocked a week ago, they are actively engaged now.
This weekend there is a large celebration for the city of Petrozavodsk. All along the embankment in town there will be kiosks, food vendors, games of skill and chance as well as two stages with live performances.
Last week we went on an outing to Kizhi. As you can see from the pictures, the weather was quite gray, but the rain held off until we left. To the amazement of many of the students, they found the island and architecture to be very interesting. We had a wonderful young woman as our guide. She lives in Petrozavodsk and has been guiding on the island for six years. The tour was in English, so that the kids could receive the full benefit of her explanations. As far as the students are willing to share, they are doing well.
Classes are going well. It is a major transition for the students to become accustomed to the local teachers. Although the materials are not all that new and difficult, there were some challenges as the students tried to figure out what the teachers were asking. The teachers, for example, initially thought they were speaking very basic language; but they didn’t immediately understand that their idea of “basic” was a bit beyond the students’ idea of basic. After some adjustment, the kids are doing much better at grasping and processing information in classes. The students are broken up into groups of three or four for their classes so they receive a lot of personal attention. Their teachers are very pleased with the overall level of engagement, and the host families have been working out well.
One day we were given a short walking tour of the city. We started off in bright sunshine and then got caught in a short-lived downpour. We ended up in the sun. That evening some of the kids went to the opera (Barber of Seville in Russian) with Ms. Archambault and me.
Some of the students have made a few acquaintances already and have spent some time with them. We have had a brief interaction with kids at the same school who are learning English.
Next week we leave Petrozavodsk at the very early hour of 5:30 a.m. for St. Petersburg.
That’s all for now,
Second Installment: Friday July 3