Today was my last full day in Russia and I tried to pack as much into it as possible!
We first started out our day going to the American Center in Moscow. The American Center is a library within a library run by the Embassy through the city library. People can go take English classes, check out books in English and they do all sorts of cultural presentations there. Our purpose today was to reflect on our experiences and go through all the information that we received during our two weeks here.
There was a lot of discussion about things we saw, cultural surprises, stereotypes that were broken, questions that were raised and people that we met.
Coming up with something for "frustration" was easy. We take our freedom of speech and our freedom to express differing opinions for granted in the United States. We can talk about politics without fear of repercussions or fear of getting into trouble. We can talk to our students frankly about almost any subject as long as we use our professional judgement. I don't even know if I can speak frankly about some specific things here on my blog because I don't want people I now care deeply for to get into trouble when I'm safely in the United States.
After a quick lunch, we returned to the hotel. Several of my new friends and I decided to do some last minute souvenir shopping on Old Arbat Street which was about a mile from the hotel. It was such a beautiful day, and the weather was practically warm (about 40 degrees) that we decided to walk there. It was stunning. We walked along the Moscva river to the pedestrian bridge at the Cathedral of Christ our Savior.
This Cathedral had been torn down during Stalinist times and made into a swimming pool! When the 1990s happened and communism fell, the Orthodox church re-built the Cathedral on the same spot.
At Old Arbat Street, we bought all sorts of souvenirs. Some people bought jewelry, scarves, hats, post cards, flags, Matryoshka dolls, magnets, etc.
Answers to questions from the comments
What was your most memorable experience?
Excellent question, but it is a really difficult question to answer. When I close my eyes and think of this trip, the first thing that pops into my head is my first glimpse of St. Basil's Cathedral. Then I think of dinners with Tatiana and Larissa. Then I think of the students and their eager questions, hugs, and laughter. I think of all the places I visited and all the people I met.
Will you be glad to get back to your students?
Of course! Will you be glad to have your teacher back?