Right now it's about 6:30 am on Thursday and it has been such an interesting couple of days that I wanted to make sure to get up early so I would have time to write it all down! Here is the overall breakdown:
Monday: On Monday we taught in the morning and then had a great day planning lessons, playing volleyball, and THEN we got to have a Russian traditional campfire in honor of the 4th of July. We toasted bread over the fire and topped it with a mixture of butter and chunks of garlic. They have never had S'mores here and we wish we would have brough some marshmallows so we could make them! They also sang about 15 different songs for us around the campfire that became a tradition during the Soviet period and are still sung by almost every youth in Russia today who sits around the fire. They told us that most of them are romantic ballads. It was so cool!!! We also performed a few songs (but they aren't worth mentioning)! We have done a lot of impromptu singing and dancing since we came here, but it has been a lot of fun.
Tuesday: On Tuesday we had class in the morning and then they took us to a little camp on an Island about an hour from here for some special activities an entertainment. It was Laurie's birthday, so the kids sang to her and even gave her a Russian birthday card! The island camp was what we would call an 'adventure camp' here, but they called it a 'military training camp'. While we hiked around we got to do a high ropes challenge, shoot a pellet gun (YES-I shot a gun and I was terrified, even though it was just a pellet gun), toss old bullets in a game that was kind of like 'horse shoes', ride a zip line AND learn how to disassemble and reassemble an old Kalashnikov rifle. I have pictures of all of this that I will post when I get back to the States probably because our connection out here makes it hard to post pictures. When we got back to camp, we arrived just in time to run to the auditorium and perform in the talent competition that we promised one of the girls (Maya) that we would help her with. We seriously RAN from the van to the stage. We performed "Let it Be" (of all things, me singing the Beatles in Russia!) and she played guitar and sang, I played piano, and the other ladies on my team were the back up singers. I'm glad we made it back in time! Maya was so glad we helped her out. She said "Oh, I think we will win first place!" I haven't heard the results yet.
Wednesday: On Wednesday we had an excursion to Cherepovets that was partially for tourism but mostly so that we could register our passports with the local authorities. We went to a restaurant and I had my first cup of espresso since arriving in Russia (yay!), a quiche, and some pickled herring. Then we went to the local Orthodox church. It has beautiful gold onion domes on the top and inside is filled with incense, gold, jewels, relics, candles and icons all over the walls. They were having a mass when we walked in, so we could hear the singers (it was BEAUTIFUL) but couldn't see them because there was a giant gated wall seperating us and the women from the room where the priest and other men were worshiping. It was a very beautiful and mysterious place. We had to cover our heads when we went in too. After the church we went to an old, restored nobility house and toured the grounds and learned about the history of the family that had owned the house and what happened to them during and after the 1917 revolution. Some were killed, some excommunicated to Siberia, and some managed to escape to other countries like France and Belgium. They had done a great job of finding period pieces for the house, family photos and paintings, and even restoring many of the original items to the house that had survived. It was a fun history lesson for us about Cherepovets. Then we went to register with the police. It wasn't something we could do on our own, so Galina and Denara (Our friends that helped us the first couple of days we were here) helped us all day with talking to the police, basically doing ALL of our paperwork (It was all in Russian), and making sure everything was in order. Again- we could NOT have handled that on our own. I'm so thankful to have had their help yesterday! After that we went back into town, went to a couple of stores for things we needed and for some fun things (like Russian beer and souveniers) and then got back on the van to camp.
Today, in about an hour I will go to 'morning workout' with the kids, breakfast, and then teach my class. We will see what today has in store for us! I am glad to be back on site with the kids and hope to spend lots of time with them today. They leave on Tuesday so we want to spend as much time with them as possible since they are such a great group! Our next round of students will arrive on the 15th so we have about 3 days without students in between to get work and planning done and to rest a little bit.
Well, that's what's happening at Yantar! I hope all of you are well and enjoyed the update!