Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We've been back in the States for a few days, and life has finally slowed down enough for me to assemble some thoughts on what I've taken away from my experience in Vytegra. I was unable to make time to blog during the trip, but it seems fitting to reflect on my memories now, considering how persistent this word "memory" was during the trip. At every site we visited, the people implored us to remember them and loaded us down with tokens and gifts "на память"—for memory. My favorite such keepsake was given me by a student from the 6th grade Russian grammar class I attended at School #2. Her name was Sasha. She chased me down as we were leaving and gave me a heart-shaped trinket with the words "To Bryn from Sasha" written on the back, insisting that I remember her. Don't worry, Sasha, I remember.

Another face from School #2 that I'll remember is Katya, my Katya (standing, on the right), who was my guide around the school. That day I was lucky enough to sit in on two Russian grammar classes, 11th and 6th grade. The 11th grade class was about complex sentences, and the 6th grade class was about different types of pronouns. I was able to understand the lessons well enough to want to take notes on them (and I learned a lot!), and Katya patiently helped me when I fell behind, corrected my spelling, and explained technical terms in simple Russian so that I could understand. Thanks, Katya!

Another unforgettable experience was dinner and dancing with the faculty at School #2. I was reluctant to dance at first, especially after eating so much food, but everyone was so carefree and energetic. The mood was infectious, and we learned some cool Russian dance moves from Darya Sergeyevna (I might have misremembered her patronymic), who was the teacher of my 6th grade grammar class (3rd from left) and the economics teacher (leftmost) whose name I never learned.

I'm already running out of time again, and I've barely scratched the surface of all the interesting people we met and the incredible experiences we had. But before wrapping up, I have to mention Marina (on the left), whom we met at School #1 and again at the DDT. She had such a warm personality. I wish we had gotten to talk more. I think we would have become friends.

So those are just a few of the lasting impressions of this trip. Every day I find myself suddenly remembering different things I had forgotten before. I wonder what memories the people in Vytegra will have of us.

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