Thursday, March 12, 2009

Russian TV star

On Thursday, we headed off to Alex's school which I had seen briefly on Saturday. I had breakfast with some of the staff there before heading to a room filled with 25 of the school's English speaking students. I met with them for an hour. They were great and had lots of questions. I showed my powerpoint and tried to show a DVD that I had made of my school - but it kept locking up.

The pupils asked about my impressions of Yaroslavl and of Russia. They asked questions what sports I liked, what I liked to do in my extra time, and in general what life was like for me in the US. They were quite familiar with American culture. One student said that it is too bad that another culture seems to be taking over their own culture. I tried to compare it to the weed "kudzu" but wasn't successful. US products are everywhere. The clothing worn by folk on the bus all has English words on them. The shampoo in my flat says "Head and Shoulders" and looks like the American bottle. All of the computers run Microsoft Windows. The students' favorite music groups include American ones.

The kids were a lot of fun to talk with. I gave them a bunch of small gifts and my business card. None of them has written to me so far. Many asked to have their photograph taken with me.

After I met with the students, I was interviewed by a reporter from a local TV station. She also interviewed Alex - who is the headmaster of the school. After about ten minutes we all headed to another building for an assembly put on by the students. In this assembly kids from various grades sang songs in other languages than Russian. Most of the songs were in English. Some were quite good. The last song was "It's raining men." To my surprise, I was asked to be one of the judges to decide which of twenty songs was the best. Well, even though I'm not Simon Cowell I knew that none of these groups would be going to Hollywood.

After a lunch with the staff, Alex and I headed by bus to the center of town and we met up with the two other American teachers who have been staying in the Yaroslavl region. We had a good, English speaking tour guide who was of great help. We toured the old monastery (see the photo at the beginning of the blog) and eventually made our way to a museum on "music and time." This museum featured old music boxes and gramaphones - most of which worked. There were a number of old clocks, bells, and irons.

After this visit we headed toward a cafe. It was great catching up with Liz and Leah. It was great being able to talk in English without pausing for translation. They are each doing well.

Russia continues to melt. The streets in a couple of days will be like the canals of Venice.

When we got home, Olga and Alex turned on the TV in their bedroom while we were changing out of our school clothes. Suddenly, Olga called me "John! John!" Fortunately, I still had my pants on. I went to their room and caught the end of the segment on the local news channel about my visit and the kids performance. It will be repeated later this evening.

Tomorrow, I'll be meeing with teachers at Alex's school and then teaching a math class. We are going to Sergei's house for dinner tomorrow. He is a physician who I met last weekend.

Bye for now.

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