The Russian Exchange Program - November 1997Russian postmark

 

Editors' note: This is compiled from the journals of seven Kentucky School for the Deaf students who went to Kamensk, Russia (22 train hours south of Mockba - Moscow, near Rostov and Ukraine) where they stayed at the Kamensk Boarding School for the Deaf for three weeks in November 1997. In April 1998, seven students from the Kamensk school visited the Kentucky School for the Deaf for three weeks, in part of the EcoBridge student exchange program with a focus on environmental studies.

Their journals were downright honest, expressed from their hearts and minds. Sometimes they were humorous, and sometimes not. Either they loved it or they hated it.

Please keep in mind that those journals are written by high school students during their first-ever experience of going overseas - and living in a different culture. In no way does their journals represent Russia, Kamensk, or KBSD as a whole, but from their own individual perspectives.

 

PART 4 as featured in the December 1998 issue ofDeafNation

 

Saturday, 15 November 1997

Brandy - I woke up very sick because of too much food! I really felt so full, and I can't stand having 2 meals in the morning, 2 meals in the afternoon and 2 meals in the evening. I can't take it anymore!

Joshua - I woke up and guess what was for breakfast? Bologna! Later, we went swimming. We noticed people staring at our swimsuits, but I stared at them more because their swimsuits seemed to be underwears, which made me feel kinda funny.

Hillary - Guess what Denis' favorite game is now? Dare or truth. I would love to kill whoever taught him that.

Samuel - Sergei's mother took us swimming. To me, it looked like people have been peeing in the pool because the water was dark, hard to see through. The walls were pretty designed - with fishes and dolphins. I wished I took a picture of them!

Sunday, 16 November 1997

Samuel - In Shakhty, there are no streetlights, not even one! We had a good walk in the night.

Michael - I slept for more than 20 hours then Andrei and I went out motorcycling, and we had lots of fun. It is about the same in Ukraine, as in Kamensk. I took a hot shower in a sauna house behind Andrei's house, and I nearly gasped for air, that I had to open the door wide, then pant pant pant. The
cold air - aaaahhhhh! My God!

Hillary - I can't wait to get back to the USA! Sometimes I wonder why I wanted to come here in the first place! I miss everything about America. I love the people here, but no Wal-Mart, no restaurants, no malls. Like Christopher said - after a while, people get sick and tired of everything, and wants something familiar. I guess that's what's happening to me. Anyways, with the school, I notice that the teachers do not encourage or involve the students. Back at KSD, Mrs. Coffey or Mrs. Mohan is always yelling at us to do better. And many of us do better because of encouragement. Teachers at KSD won't accept anything less than our best. In Russia, most of the teachers that I've seen stand in front of the class with a blank expression and go on and on and on and on (you get the picture).

Terra - Dan, Denis, Tolya (Denis' younger brother) and I played Jenga. And Tolya loves playing Jenga. Dan and Denis went out for a stroll since Denis wanted to show Dan his dad's grave and the farm. I took a nap, then I saw Denis and Dan play "Pass the Pigs" before they built a fire outside to grill lamb kebabobs.

Monday, 17 November 1997

Michael - The first thing Rita said to Dan when she got back to school from Alexey's home this afternoon was: "You LIED about the dog!" Last Friday, Rita asked Dan about Alexey's dog since she read in Josh's journal where he said that the dog was very mean. Dan told Rita, "No, it's a very nice dog! You could pet him." I was sitting at the next table, and I was laughing quietly. Then Rita asked Dan, "Really?" And Dan said, "Oh, I even played with the dog." I nearly burst out laughing because Dan was so smooth, and Rita never noticed him lying or me at Tatiana's schoollaughing. Ha ha ha!

Terra - When I came into the school building, many Russian students were standing, waiting for the Americans to arrive. The moment they saw us, they came up to us and gave us hugs. After lunch, Rita and Dan made all of us and some Russian students to finish our project for our presentation. I had a hard time communicating with the Russian students, so I had to use the translation dictionary. It made me nervous because I did not know whether it's the right word to use or not.

Tuesday, 18 November 1997

Bradley - We went to Rostov again for our environmental presentations with all other American and Russian schools. We thought we did very lousy with our play, but everybody else thought it was cute. Yeah, right.

Hillary - When I go back home, I am going to be grateful for everything that I have because this trip has been an emotional and growing time for me.

Brandy - I couldn't believe that one school did a macarena during their presentation. It has no relation to EcoBridge. Come on! Mike embarrassed me because he told us to go on the stage when Sam wasn't finished with his speech. And 650 people were watching us act like idiots.

Wednesday, 19 November 1997

Brandy - It is our last day here in Kamensk. I can't believe that it was so fast. I felt sad because I fell in love with Russia. Alexey Babaryikin came to give me a big hug, and I started to cry. I feel so disappointed to leave Kamensk.

Samuel - Today is our farewell. The mayor bought for every one of us a very nice watch! I was shocked because I didn't expect to leave so soon! This school is like a home to me. I don't want to get on the train tomorrow.

Terra - It was a long day for me as I did not feel too well. The others went to the market to get things they wanted to get. Later, we went to the auditorium where the mayor's assistant gave each of us watches as well as an elaborate wooden key to the city of Kamensk. I like the watch because I have never seen this kind in America.

Thursday, 20 November 1997

Samuel - I had about five people crying and wanted a long hard hug in the cold sad night! A lot of my friends didn't want me to leave either! I didn't cry but I was very sad for two days!

Brandy - She [from our own group] is on my @#*& nerves! She told me to do her a favor by not screaming, and I have my right to scream because her blanket edge hit my eye. Then she talked to me rudely without an apology. I hate her as @$%*.

Michael - When we were leaving the school, everybody were sad, but not me. I know I will miss them very much, but I can't wait for McDonald's or Domino's! And I hope I can come back to visit them again soon.

Terra - Before coming to the train station, most of us had cried. There were some young children and older students who cried, and did not want us to leave. I hugged just about everybody. When I came out of the school building, the biggest impact that hit me was looking at the windows, where the children were looking out, and some were crying. I wish I had lots of money to bring them all to America. Inside the train cabin, we all looked out the windows, and waved and said a lot of "I love yous!" I looked at Denis' brother Tolya, and I could tell he didn't want his big brother to leave. As the train moved, all of us burst into tears, and hugged each other.

Friday, 21 November 1997

Bradley - After we arrived into Moscow, we hurried and got all luggage outside, no matter whose luggage it belonged to. It was snowing and very cold outside. Then we went to a budget hotel. We had hot dogs and butter pasta for supper, then we had an hour and half for debriefing.

Terra - After I took my shower, I felt fresh and so clean than I had been in Kamensk. Later, Christopher informed Rita that the two Russian boys' visas had wrong year, 1997 instead of 1998. Rita and the boys might have to depart tomorrow, instead of Sunday. I really can't wait to go home.

Saturday, 22 November 1997

Brandy - We saw Lenin's tomb, and we were not allowed to take pictures even though we had to walk around his tomb very quickly. I saw the St. Basil's Cathedral for the third time, and it is always beautiful. Later, we went to a new "American-style" mall, and everything was so expensive, about two or three times more than in America.

Michael - Rita, Denis and Alexey had to leave early this morning because their visas were messed up so that they had to get into America before their visas expired. Rita cried when she hugged Dan and me, before we got on the bus. I felt bad. Anyways, we ate like animals at the world's largest McDonald's (and it could hold up to 1,000 people) and boy were they so so so so delicious. Ahhhh!
St. Basils Cathedral

Terra - We visited Lenin's tomb, and there were so many guards inside. Everywhere you turn, you'd see guards. Everybody was quiet. As we walked around Lenin's body (encased in a glass coffin), Josh was behind me and he quipped, "Is he really resting in peace?" I nearly burst out laughing because there were so many people lining up, and going around his body. I still couldn't believe that it's really Lenin in there. Later in the evening, we returned to Red Square to see everything illuminated, and we took a subway (also the world's largest system) back to our dormitory hotel.

Hillary - Here I am all by myself in the hotel, writing this. I already threw up three times, and I blame McDonald's. God, my stomach hurts! We went to see Lenin's tomb, and I tell you, these Russian guards are spooky. They stand perfectly still. You are supposed to keep your hands out, but I needed a kleenex since my nose was running. So I reached in my pocket. MISTAKE!!! One of the guards said something to me, so I jerked my hand out with a kleenex, and hurried on. I don't know how I got sick, but I swear I did not drink Russian water! Well, I gotta go to the bathroom (again!).

Sunday, 23 November 1997

Terra - The first thing we did after getting into JFK airport were to drop our suitcases, and run straight for Pizza Hut. And the hearing kids followed us. Brandy, Mike, Josh, and Hillary had their bad days today. They were really fussing at each other. Really, they were tired of seeing each other's face everyday for three weeks.

Brandy - When we arrived into America, I felt so unhappy because I wanted to stay in Russia for many reasons. I guess I'm obsessed with Russia, and everything. I lost 17 pounds. It wasn't possible, but it was real! I did not expect to lose weight, just that I hate their food that's all. And it's 12:15 a.m. here while it's 8:15 a.m. there in Russia and I'm wondering what they're doing now.

 

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Russian Exchange Program