Okay, here goes Russia – Week 2.
Sunday night I posted that blog and went to go take a nap around 5pm. I woke up at about 10pm and everyone else had gone to bed, so I got up and got ready for bed and slept until about 7 the next moring. It seems all of us had gone to take naps and never woken up. I guess you could call that jet lag but that’s all I’ve had.
Monday, we had no plans so we just hung out. Around 12pm, Guyla calls and tells us we have to come to Moscow to meet with the teachers from another school. It was a big hullabloo that didn’t need to happen but she insisted we go so we did. It was training for the people who teach basic reading classes (which they don’t have at our school) so I just sat there for three hours and tried not to jump out of the window of the 15th story apartment we were in. Also, a funny story from that day. After training, we had to run to the grocery store to get a couple of things and as we were walking, this young guy sprints past us, screaming this awful, gurgling, yelping sort of noise. We decided he sounded like he had gotten his head cut off. We realized he was just running for the bus and we started laughing really hard. Who makes that sound ever, let alone when running for the bus? The other people on the street didn’t seem to notice him but when we started laughing, they looked at us like we were the strange ones. Laughing? In public? Apparently, that is a cultural faux pau. Anyway, we thought it was funny.
Tuesday were the “opening exercises” for the school and the school’s director, Galina, asked us to come. But, we don’t speak Russian so we just stood there, watching people, looking awkward. It was fun, actually. I liked comparing the kids I was watching play with the kids at Treehouse. Finding their Russian counterparts, so to speak.
Wednesday was the first day of teaching. We went to the school for lunch and then went to our first Russian language class. It was mildly disasterous. Apparently I have awful pronunciation because the teacher would make me repeat the things she said about 5 times until I did it decently or she gave up. A few times, she skipped over me altogether. It was really fun though. I liked it. She speaks no English so it was a lot of sign language to figure out what she was talking about. It made me think I might want to take Russian when I get back to school.
And then came the teaching. Also mildly disasterous. I was in charge of running opening (where all the kids meet at the beginnning and we sing songs and such before going to classes) because I have the most experience with kids. The kids kind of didn’t know what was going on and it was really disorganized and they just looked at me like I was some kind of alien. I taught arts and crafts and we made hot air ballons. A little bit too advanced for the first day of school, I discovered. I keep comparing these kids to my American kids but I have to remind myself that 1) the language barrier makes this much harder 2) the purpose of the lessons is to expose them to lots of language and have them learn to use it and NOT to complete a project or activity and most importantly 3) my inability to teach these little Russian kids, or even to keep them under control, does not equate my teaching abilities in general. I’ve been getting a little frustrated and discouraged because in America, I am a decent teacher and can get kids to do what they are supposed to. Here – not so much. I made it through alright though.
Thursday teaching went much better. But was still rough. I was in charge of the games class and we did bowling. The language concept I was trying to teach was negation so I brought a bunch of things to use as bowling balls that wouldn’t work for them to try (like a piece of paper, pompoms, a stuffed animal, etc). The activity went fairly well (except for the girl I made cry that Galina came and took out of my class) but I am still stuggling to get them to speak. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ are about the only words they say, even though most of them have been in the program before. It doesn’t help that when I ask them their names, I can rarely understand what they say. I’m not actually that discouraged though. It will get better. The kids are REALLY cute and there aren’t too many kids that are very badly behaved. I think they think that in English class they can get away with more so they push the boundaries.
Here are some things about Russia that I have noticed:
1)The water here smells putrid. On a good day, it smells like wet dog. On worse days, rotten eggs or sewage. Sometimes before I shower, I have to decide which smells worse, me or the water. And then take a shower regardless of the answer.
2)I could go on a liquid diet here. The juices are so good. So is the yogurt which is really liquid-ey so it would fit right in. Also, with the way the water smells, I’ll drink about anything else.
3)Mullets are quite the rage here. Men, women, and children are all wearing them. I just keep waiting for them to put on stretch pants and a jean jacket and hop into a DeLorean.
So, that was week two. I am off to write week three. Keep reading!