Tuesday, March 5, 2013

School in Vytegra

Being not particularly good with kids, I was very surprised at the warm welcome and genuine interest that both the school's staff and children had with their visiting ASB participants. The Vytegra School #1 kids crowded the doorways to their classrooms to get a look at the foreign visiters, and the chosen student guides provided an excellent tour of their building. The level of importance I felt then is unparalleled with any other areas of my life; they truly appreciated our presence and desired for us to be comfortable through some true hospitality.
When we broke off into smaller groups to visit separate classes, I could not have expected the kids to behave better or show more interest in what we were all about, whether it was our favorite films, music, season, color, number of pets, members of our family, or areas of personal interest. Their teacher facilitated a great discussion between two very different parties and realized a connection between small-town, provincial 6th graders and University of Michigan students, which is no small task. Even further, they gathered to sing us songs, expressing their own cultural identity through using the English lanuage. This really exemplified how much they anticipated our arrival, and the behavior of the people in charge of us only backed that up.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion was when the teacher told us to stand in a circle, and then she instructed the students to say something that was generally nice in English. It didn't have to be a compliment, but just a nice concept (common ones were "friends" and "love"). I offered good health. The focus on both positivity and social recognition conveyed a lot to me about how instruction works at the school and the sort of approach the teachers take in getting the students involved.

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