RUSSIA EXPERIENCE AND VOLUNTEERING
Au Pair Placement
Faces of Russia
SVEZHY VETER Travel Agency
426008 Izhevsk Karla Marxa 288a
mail: 426033 Izhevsk
p.o.box 2040 Russia
tel: +7 (3412) 450037, 613080
+7 909 064 69 95
Volunteers History (2000-2011)      Currently Volunteering      School Photo Gallery
Hi, I spent the summer of 2002 in a summer camp near Izhevsk and it is something that I would highly recommend, I had an amazing time. I was the first volunteer to take part in the camp placement programme and it was a step into the unknown for Svezhy Veter and me.
The work in the camp was very relaxed; a typical day included 1-2 hours of lessons (in the loosest possible sense of the word) with the kids, with the reminder of the day being spent playing sports and games with them. The kids were fantastic as were all the adults at the camp, they were amazingly friendly, open and eager to learn about my life and me.
The people in the camp had a great zest for life. There was always something different and exciting to do in the camp, the counsellor always managed to have some competition, party or theme for each day. Which can be really confusing when you wake up and everyone is wearing their clothes inside out, and breakfast has become dinner. Very strange!
If your wanting to take part in the camp programme a few survival tips I would give you are, take a deck of cards and learn (quickly) how to play durak (fool). Take LOTS of photos with you, Russian's love to see and know about your life, country and family. Always bring bits and bobs from your own country like money and driving licenses. Finally, be prepared to listen (and dance) to Russian pop!
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Russia; it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. During the three months I spent in Russia I met many exciting and different people and made many good friends. Well I'm sure that you'll have lots of questions, fears and worries that I've not mentioned here, so feel free to email me and ask!
Volunteered: June 4 - August 30, 2002
Being a volunteer in Izhevsk was a fantastic experience. The sense of adventure in visiting a town so ?foreign? to my normal life was priceless. But I think the thing I didn?t really expect was just how exhausting it was. The little details of living as a foreigner are of course quite a challenge ? buying food, finding the right tram. But that?s nothing compared to the fact that one?s time and attention is demanded constantly ? you have to converse (and not fluently) and ?give? of yourself continually for hours at a time. The stress was pretty heavy, but it was a nice kind of stress. The truth is that it isn?t some kind of heroic act of charity ? the worst mistake of all is to think like that. Really, it?s an exchange ? they get a tiny fragment of Britain, or the US ? and that?s worth more to them than you might think.
Meanwhile, you get Russia ? a big fat chunk of it, one of the biggest, hulkingest, most powerful and cultured nations on the planet. I wouldn?t suggest this kind of volunteer experience if you don?t want that, if you?re not interested in Russia. Russia already has enough ?missionaries?, people who want to come and ?save? Russians from ? from what I can?t say. I?m not greatly enamoured of these people, and I don?t think most Russians are either.
You may be curious to know what it?s like in a typical provincial Russian state school. Well, the one in which I spent most (but not all) of my teaching time called itself a ?Lycee? (borrowing the French term) and specialised in humanities. This kind of specialisation is quite common in Russia, it seems (for example, School number 1 in Stavropol is particularly renowned for its English teaching).
I found the attitudes of the teenage students excellent on the whole, especially compared with the affected cynicism of many UK secondary school students. That?s not to say that they?re all angels, by no means; I met plenty of the ?cool? kids who couldn?t give a damn about learning anything. Nothing new there. But I was impressed with the energy and vibrancy of the students, their creativity, and with the professionalism of the staff. These people are truly deserving of respect. I wish the Western media came and talked about these kind of people, not always about winos and mafia villains in Moscow.
Volunteered: October 1 - November 6, 2003
Volunteered: June 6 - July 31, 2004
Volunteered: February -May, 2005
Volunteered: May - June, 2006
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