In 2016, I was nervous. As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, we had the opportunity to give presentations about our experiences in Russia and, for me specifically, experiences in Smolensk where I studied Russian language. By that time, I had many experiences to pull from. I had played in a Russian men’s basketball league and thought about the differences between American and Russian play styles. I was a teacher, and the university environment I was in was much different from my alma mater, William & Mary (go Tribe!). I was also extremely fascinated by the cultural importance of a “hello” that was valued by my close Russian peers. Despite all of these interesting topics, one group of women made much more of an impression on me than anything else – the вахтеры of our dorm at Smolensk State University.
Last summer our friends from Russia came to visit us with their two daughters and the goal of immersing these adorable, well-mannered, stylish girls in English. We had found a promising summer camp for the girls, Dasha and Anya, and figured everything was under control. However, after the first day at camp, the two sisters came home with stories about being pushed, kicked and yelled at by other children. We hadn’t anticipated that at all!
At that time, I was too busy to go to the camp and talk to the teachers in person, and so we hoped everything would simply get better after the other children got used to “the foreigners.” But things did not get better. Once the girls came home with bruises, we immediately took action. I observed them from the distance to figure out what was going on and then talked to the teacher, who had no clue why the cute girls were not being accepted by “the gang.”
As you all know, large cities like New York and Chicago are very diverse. There are plenty of opportunities to explore a new culture in Chinatown, Brighton Beach or Italian village. Such diversity is more difficult to find it in other cities and states. Yet, the students who take Russian classes with us in Colorado know where to find some good Russian food and drinks and practice their speaking skills. We often take them on field trips to places around the state of Colorado where Russians have rather active communities. We will help you find everything Russian in the Centennial State. So if you are interested in Russian culture and want to explore what this beautiful state has to offer, know that there is more to Colorado than beautiful mountains and rocks!