Thursday, March 12, 2009

After school activities for Russian pupils

On Wednesday, Alex took me first to the Yaroslavl Department of Education. I met the Superintendent of the 100-school district. Although I had a translator, the superintendent's English was good enough so that I didn't require her aid. I showed my powerpoint presentation about my school, city, activities, and my family. We talked about the differences and similarities between education in our two countries.

When we left, we started to walk along the embankment of the Volga river. The Volga is Russia's longest river. After we were walking a while, the translator said that we would be walking for "two hours!" I think she meant to say that we would be walking for two kilometers. We came to the Children's Navy Center named for Admiral Fedor Ushakov. He is the famous, so they say, admiral who never lost a battle. This center is one of many that pupils go to after school for about 3 hours a day. It is funded through the government. In general, schools don't offer activities or sports - so the government funds many of these centers. Here the students learn principles of navigation, knot tying, and in the summer- sailing. I was impressed with the dedication of the staff. They gave me a kerchief to wear which is part of the pupils' uniforms.

We then had lunch at a restaurant that Alex likes. We had greek salads and a dish that sounds like "Salalanka" and looks like borscht. It was more flavorable.

The big news on Wednesday is that Russia is melting. The temperature was around 40 degrees. The hard packed snow was turning quickly into slush. Icicles loomed dangerously overhead. Men shoveled snow off of roofs. I would have been lost if it wasn't for my LL Bean boots.

We hopped on a bus and headed for the Childrens Animation Center. This after school club taught kids lots of different animation skills. I saw a number of good, short films. A Yaroslavl animator won the Academy award for animation a couple of years ago for his film 'The Old Man and the Sea."

After a quick dinner, Olga and her mother and I went to see the ballet. We had tickets to see Sleeping Beauty. We got dressed up and took a cab into town - but when we arrived there was a sign posted saying that the ballet was cancelled. Olga got her money back - but there was no explanation of what had happened. We decided to head toward an Irish Pub that I had spotted. On the way there, we stopped at one of the 3 McDonalds in town. I took a bunch of photos, but wasn't tempted to eat a Big Mac. This outlet had a drive through and a McKafe.

We were joined at the Irish Pub by two friends of Olga's. We had a great time, even though little English was spoken. AFter an hour or so, we decided to head to a cafe. There we had more fun, but even less English. At about 10 pm I indicated that I was tired and we hopped in a cab and headed home. We arrived home at about the same time we would have if we had gone to the ballet. I told Alex, who hadn't wanted to see the ballet, that we really enjoyed the ballet!

On Thursday, Alex and I were walking past the cafe - and I pointed to it and asked "ballet?"

Bye for now,

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