First we met with Seva and Dasha. They are on the student council for Gymnasium #13 and were willing to sit down with us for a little and describe how their council works. In their school, there are 3 representatives from each class in grades 8 through 11. There is a president and vice president, a teacher adviser and 1 officer at each grade. Students are elected by their classmates for the most part. There are some students who were appointed by teachers.
The most active members of the school student council will go to a local student council for schools in the immediate area. The most active members of the local will attend a city student council. The most active members of the city student council are sent to Jr. Parliament in Moscow. At each level, the council's works and planning is for more globally focused events.
After speaking with Seva and Dasha, four lovely ladies, Paulina, Anna, Nastya and Paulina took us for a tour around Gymnaisum #13. All four girls are in the 9th grade and were enthusiastic about sharing their school with us.
We saw many different classrooms, for example, a dance class, a computer class, biology and chemistry classes; we saw their auditorium and gymnasium, as well as where their lockers were and the cafeteria.
They had so much great information to share with us.
There is also a memorial wall in Gymnasium #13. We saw similar walls in the other schools that we have visited. This memorial wall is in honor of students from the school who fought and died during World War II. WWII was devastating to the Russians, with around 20 MILLION men dying during the war. As such, WWII is still incredibly important to all Russians. The girls shared that every year, they place flowers in front of the memorial in the school. There is also a wall with brief profiles and pictures of each of the soldiers.
Tour of Yekaterinburg / To Market!
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After returning from our very knowledgeable tour of Gymnasium #13, we were privileged to be taken on a tour of Yekaterinburg by four of Anzhelika the Amazing's incredible 10th graders: Alexander, Roman, Anna, and Helen. These four incredible young people thoughtfully and willingly answered our questions about teenaged life in Russia. They also asked some very insightful questions about life for teenagers in the United States. We all agreed that life in Russia and the United States for teens is very similar....though they all agreed they would much rather NOT have to go to school on Saturday, and they would love to have the liberty to choose what classes they take in school.
Some things that we learned from our tour guides: Most young people here don't listen to Russian pop music, they much prefer American Rock, Hip Hop, or Pop music. Kids like doing tricks on BMX bikes, and some like to skateboard, but not so much as the bikes.
The market was incredibly interesting. The Yekaterinburg area is in the Ural mountains, and the Urals are famous for their semi-precious stones. The market was full of vendors selling jewelry, boxes, statues, lamps, and other items out of Moonstone, agate, malachite, garnet, and other stones.
There were also vendors selling paintings, Matryoshka dolls, boxes made from birch bark, and Soviet badges and pins. the picture to the left is the set of Matryoshka dolls that I bought for myself as a souvenir. There are 10 dolls total. I will NOT be bringing them to school with me because I worry that the littlest ones will get lost! I also bought some gifts for my family, but I'm not going to show those because they need to be a surprise!
Dinner with Larissa
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To top off our incredible day, we went to Larissa's home. Larissa is the wonderful friend who let us sleep at her home our first day in Yekat since the hotel wasn't ready for us.
We all helped to prepare a real Russian dinner, which was delicious! First we had Shchi, which was a chicken soup with cabbage, chicken, other vegetables, dill and sour-cream. We then had a cold potato salad. This salad contained potatoes, hard boiled eggs, cooked carrots, green onions, home-made pickles, and two kinds of sausage tossed with mayonnaise. Also on the table was a beet salad that was fresh, boiled beets shredded with fresh garlic and tossed in mayonnaise. Finally we had an aspic, which is basically unflavored jello with fish in it. I had never had aspic before, so was a little nervous about trying it. It was surprisingly (to me) good.
We ended the night with a game of Loto, a Russian form of Bingo that was really popular during the Soviet time. The caller pulls little wooden barrels out of a bag and the players put little disks over the numbers on the cards in front of them. They add a kopek to the center for every round they play. If a player fills all the numbers in a horizontal line across the top of the board, they win 3 kopeks. If they fill in the horizontal line in the middle of the board they win half the pot, and if they fill in the bottom horizontal row, they win everything. Every time someone wins, all the other players add 1 kopek for each board they are playing back into the pot. It was very easy to play and a lot of fun.
We had so much fun at Larissa's home. I know that I was so grateful and in awe of her generosity in opening her home to us. This is one thing that I have learned during my time here in Russia. All of the Russian people that I have met have been incredibly open, generous and kind to us. I really feel like I have made many new friends.