These past weeks

November 23, 2011


It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I thought I would bring you all up to speed on the happenings in Siberia. We have arrived at that time in the semester when every class seems to be coming to a head at once, so I hope you will all forgive the several-week drought of additions to the blog. Since my last post I have:

-Seen a Gogol play and Jesus Christ, Superstar at the local theaters.

-Read a lot of Tolstoy and a lot of Chekhov. It could be the cold settling in, but sometimes I catch myself thinking of them as close friends..

-Started to wear the long underwear I brought from home. Thanks Mom, you always have the best ideas.

-Turned 21. Birthdays are, as one Russian described them, holy celebrations over here; twenty-firsts, however, don’t carry the weight they do back home, and despite the big celebration we had here in the apartment with all of my friends, I feel like I may have lost a part of the American Experience that usually sits on the shelf of your memory alongside Prom and receiving your diver’s license by not being at home. Thank you for the letters from home, Grandma, Grandpa, and Nana, its means a great deal to me that I am in your thoughts.

-Watched Vicky Christina Barcelona. This isn’t really important, but if I could sit down with Woody Allen, I’d have a lot of questions for him.

-Had a chance encounter with the girl who followed me home and snuck a smooch way back in my second or third post. Our greetings were warm, if not rushed (on my part). She was with her boyfriend, and when she asked if I remembered her, I had a hard time not laughing.

-Found myself, everyday for about two weeks, drinking alcohol for various occasions. In Russia, there is a saying that God loves threes—that is, things happen in threes. Well, I have a new one: When you would rather not see vodka for the next lifetime, celebrations come in dozens. Maybe it’s just my being oblivious, but I’m pretty sure in the span of ten days I celebrated my hosts’ wedding anniversary TWICE, along with both of their children’s birthdays (neither of which live within half a planet of Irkutsk), my birthday, my hostess’ birthday, my friend’s birthday, another friend’s birthday, three going-away parties, and one more party in the apartment apparently for the hell of it. These days, I’m half-expecting to come home and drink to the dog’s graduating college.

Perhaps the most fulfilling experience, however, has been becoming chance friends with one of the most famous writers in Irkutsk. His name is Mikhail Rozhansky, and he tends to write books of historical journalism and widely read blogs, the majority of which center around the city and lake Baikal. He is also a professor at my university, and within his circle of friends are some of the most influential teachers and intellectuals in the city. He has begun hosting a weekly forum on education and how it varies around the globe; he heard of me through a mutual friend, invited me to tea, and invited me to speak. I’ll be speaking in front of some of Russia’s brightest nine days from now for about an hour, and I’m very excited. We’ll see how it turns out. I haven’t started to prepare for it yet (I’ve been preparing to speak about Turgenev this Friday), but after having sat in on the forum this past saturday, I’ve got my work cut out for me. There were two lectures, the first about Jean Jacques Rousseau and his contribution to modern schooling, and the second (Mikhail’s) about the values of using Socratic principles in secondary education. Here’s to diving in headfirst. Somebody get me a drink.


One Response to “These past weeks”

  1. Barb Kowalski said

    Good luck with your speach. You will do well. Sounds like you are enjoying Russia.

    Barb Kowalski

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