My desire to travel and see the world began when I was a boy. I loved to read and look at photographs of the National Geographic collection my grandfather had. My grandfather was Russian, though he did not speak much about his life there. But perhaps because of this, a door was waiting to be opened.After reading about Russia and watching as many Russian movies I could find, I decided to visit Russia.
I guess while surfing the Internet I found that there is a need for English teachers. I found the Svezhy Veter agency and applied. So, what about my visit to Izhevsk? Well since we are invited to go there to be volunteer English teachers, I will speak about this aspect before any cultural issues.
I would recommend you bring a dictionary, because spelling a word incorrectly can be embarrassing. At least, this is what some other volunteers told me. I also brought a grammar book. As a native speaker, I do not think why I speak the way I do. But grammar books have defined rules that make it easy to explain, or give a reason why to say such and such.
Most large bookstores carry English grammar books for non native speakers. I spent most of my time at School 27 in Izhevsk. I just assisted the teachers there with whatever
they wanted me to do, mainly just listening to the students and providing correction. In the evenings after school there was another class. These students were mostly from the
university and other schools. We would discuss different topics, nothing too difficult.
I went to Izhevsk in the summer before the start of school. So before I was at School 27, I went to a small town. I was told I was the first foreigner to visit there. I was impressed by the level of English the students had. Some of them spoke so well and had never even spoken with a native English speaker before. The town newspaper came and interviewed me.
In Izhevsk some of the students were so curious about me, where I was from, and other details. I imagine they have met many volunteers but this did not negate their efforts to make me feel welcomed. Why go to Russia? Why travel? I guess it is
different for everyone. For me, my senses come alive.
I enjoy trying to learn their language, meeting people, listening to their opinons, and many other countless things.
If you want to go I suggest you be people oriented, because this is the real treasure. If you do not have an interest in Russians or the language, I suggest you not go. The same can be said of any country one wants to visit. But if you do have an interest and just want to meet the local citizenry, this is a wonderful opportunity. Pretty much all of the other volunteers I met enjoyed it as well. If you visit, you will probably want to visit again.
I want to thank the Svezhy Veter Agency for accepting me, my visit allowed me to meet so many people.
Volunteered: July 18 - September 22, 2003
Return visit: March - April, 2006