After days of preparation and rehearsals the credit program villagers were ready for their final project of the summer at Lesnoe Ozero - the performance of a play based on Alexander Pushkin’s short story Pikovaya dama (“The Queen of Spades”).
We are getting closer to the end both two seesions and the camp this summer at all which is certainly sad but we still have many things to do and many words to learn.
Espionage was the theme of our evening program tonight.
Today we are back on track with the regular schedule. The credit program students have three main goals for this week - to prepare for the final assessment, to complete their portfolios on the basis of the four-week work in the village and finally to perform the play they were running through the last two weeks.
Today is an important milestone for all of us who are somehow connected with this place, Lesnoe Ozero - Concordia Russian Language Village. Today we are celebrating 50th anniversary of the village.
In the evening villagers met at St. Petersburg divided by families and learnt how to greet each other in languages of the Central Asian region. Each family visited various stations, where they learnt about Central Asian and Russian history and geography, sang a Kazakh song, tried different Eastern dances, and picked up a few Tadjik phrases
We started our morning today with weather news from our credit program villagers. We had healthy kasha and fruits for breakfast and it gave us enough energy to be involved in all activities and to study well. After breakfast our villagers went to their classes.
As we are getting closer to the end of two week program and the middle of the four week program two-weekers are working on finishing their projects while credit program villagers are preparing for the middle-term tests.
Two week program villagers were learning body parts vocabulary and the second year villagers from the program completed vrach (doctor) visit simulation then. They made a role-play during which they had to describe illness they had or a body part that hurt (see pictures below). The villagers gathered by family in the restaurant for the evening program devoted to the Moscow metro system known as one of the most beautiful subway systems in the world. Families were distributed...
Today we celebrated the Republic of Tuva. It is a part of the Russian Federation that lies in the geographical center of Asia, in southern Siberia, and is the home of three of our staff members this year.
We are getting closer and closer to the middle of the first two-week program and the International Day so the classes are becoming more intensive and complex.
Today we had a busy day fullfilled with new experience and knowledge. Our villagers started out their day with mannaya kasha and fruits. After breakfast all villagers had Russian lessons and learnt new vocabulary.
During the day our 3+ year villagers in the two-week program expexerienced kvartira (apartment) simulation and learnt new words to describe kitchen, bedroom and living room. While being a part of the a role play they used new "apartment" vocabulary. Second year villagers in the two-week program bought food in preparation for a simulated voyage on the transsiberian railroad and first year villagers in the two week program learned about locations at camp. Credit...
Our villagers improving every day. Check out video from Russian lessons.
Today was the first full day for our two week and four week villagers and was full of new impressions. While two-weekers were signing up for different activities during hours of culture - стрельба из лука (archery), сказки (Russian fairy tales), the history of баня (Russian sauna), sports and...
Today we continued enjoying natural beauty of Lesnoe Ozero and having fun during the Space day in the camp. The young adventurers finished the day in the center of the Solar system - around a bonfire.
Day 2 started with a sunny but chilly weather and каша (oatmeal) for breakfast to deepen the knowledge and feel of Russian cuisine of our villagers. After the breakfast they had their first lesson and learnt new words in Russian. During cultural hours we did a variety of activities such as soccer, volleyball, chess, dancing, cooking class, and painting матрёшки (Russian nesting...
This morning, we said our final farewells to villagers as they headed home. It’s hard to believe how fast our five wonderful weeks at Lesnoe Ozero have gone by- it’s been great seeing friendships form and language knowledge grow as villagers try out new activities and skills. It’s definitely been a memorable summer and we can’t wait to see everyone back next year.
It was great meeting so many friends and family members of villagers who were able to stay for the closing program. However, we know many villagers travel quite far sometimes to come to Lesnoe Ozero. For villagers and parents/guardians of villagers unable to make it, please check out the videos in this post.
After many days of rehearsal, today the students finally performed their play - Ревизор (The Government Inspector) by Gogol. The play is a comedy about mistaken identity, corrupt officials, and unscrupulous townspeople.
This evening the villagers learned about the various republics in Central Asia. At different stations, the families got to experience the cultures and languages of Казахстан (Kazakhstan), Киргизия (Kyrgyzstan), Таджикистан (Tajikistan), Туркмения (Turkmenistan), and Узбекистан (Uzbekistan). The families learned about Central Asian holidays, learned words in Kazakh and Tajik, and looked at the locations of the republics on a map. They also played soccer, which is an essential part of Central Asian culture.
Today the students reviewed for their finals tomorrow and worked on their portfolios, and then in the evening started watching the Russian movie “Стиляги” (“Hipsters”), which is about the Soviet youth counter-culture movement in the 1950’s and 60’s. In the afternoon the villagers also picked their cultural classes for this week. The classes include classical music, canoeing, improv theater, balalaika, and sports.
This evening we held an auction for special classes, items, or activities from counselors. Throughout the day, the villagers were able to earn fake money by using their Russian skills creatively. Villagers received money for sustaining conversations in Russian with counselors, for reciting poetry or singing songs in Russian, or for writing their own compositions in Russian. At the beginning of the evening program the groups of villagers could add to their earnings by answering Jeopardy-style trivia questions about Russian culture and history. The villagers had no problem naming Russian paintings, identifying the flags of former Soviet republics and remembering Russian historical figures. At the end of the round, villagers had the option to answer the “final question,” potentially doubling their winnings or losing it.
In our evening program we talked about diplomacy and international relations. Countries with territory in the Arctic Circle must cooperate to manage bountiful resources in the northernmost part of the globe. In our simulation the two-weekers played the part of the American Department of Foreign Affairs and the four-weekers played the part of the Russian Duma. Both groups discussed who should have access to the resources and what actions should be taken to implement their plans, and negotiated with each other.
Espionage was the theme of our evening program tonight. While most of the staff and villagers were innocently watching a video, one of our counselors, Sasha, had his yellow baseball cap stolen! Sashsa wasn’t sure who it was, but he narrowed it down to five suspects. In order to reveal the identity of the thief, groups of villagers had to complete puzzle and memory games.
Our evening program today was about learning outdoor skills. Despite the rain, everyone had fun and learned new skills while practicing teamwork within their families. Inside the main building, the villagers assembled a tent, ran a rope obstacle course, and ran relay races.
Today we celebrated the Republic of Tuva. This Russian republic is located in Central Asia and the south of Siberia, and is the home of five of our staff members this year. This evening the villagers were able to try traditional Tuvan dance, watch videos of Tuvan wrestling, listen to Tuvan throat singing and even practice lassoing horses on the Siberian steppe.
This evening the villagers went on an expedition through Siberia. Everyone split into their family groups and went to various stations each representing an aspect of traveling through North Asia. They had to choose which supplies to bring, cross a river with boards, bargain with corrupt officials, communicate with locals, and escape a sinking ship. Each group received points for successfully completing the activities and the family with the most points won.
The theme of today was the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Pushkin, Tsar Nikolai I, and a few of Pushkin’s other contemporaries made appearances throughout the day. During class time the villagers also learned about the cabins and how to describe where they live in Russian. The classes went on tours of the site to practice talking about the cabins, and one class even went on a scavenger hunt. In the evening the villagers split into groups and performed a very abridged version of Pushkin’s most famous play, Boris Godunov. Everyone had lots of fun wearing silly costumes and using their Russian theatrically.
Today the villagers had their first full day at Lesnoe Ozero. They spent the morning in their language classes, where they made new friends and learned new phrases in Russian. The theme of the second year classes is the Trans-Siberian Railroad, so each day the villagers will learn new vocabulary that they can use when traveling in Russia. Later in the day everyone picked their cultural classes for this week. The classes included balalaika, Ukrainian dyed eggs, Russian literature,...
Today, unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to the families and villagers who have been with us at the Russian village this past week. Before everyone left, the villagers had a chance to show off what they had learned by performing for their families at the closing program. Each class gave a presentation in which they used the Russian phrases they had been studying. The advanced class acted out a skit, and one of the cultural hour classes danced the...
Today was our last full day of this summer's first session at Lesnoe Ozero. Everyone wrapped up their lessons and finished their cultural projects. Due to the sunny weather, the villagers were finally able to go swimming in the lake during free time. Today we also celebrated the Russian holiday Масленица (Maslenitsa), which marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This evening we put on nice clothes...
Today we honored the Russian cosmonauts and the achievements of the Soviet Union during the Space Race. Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), Laika the dog (the first animal in orbit), and a few extraterrestial guests introduced today’s meals. Though it was raining throughout the day, the villagers were still able to go on an adventure through the cosmos during today’s evening program.
Today we learned about сказки (Russian fairy tales). Baba Yaga, Golden Fish, and Kolobok appeared in the village throughout the day to introduce today’s meals. For evening program the villagers split into three groups and watched Russian cartoons about each fairy tale character. They visited the swamp to see Baba Yaga in her chicken-footed house, the seashore to see the fisherman who caught the Golden Fish, and the woods to see Kolobok.
Today was the first full day of camp, and the day was full of fun and exciting activities. This morning the villagers began the day by singing the Russian national anthem and eating каша (oatmeal) for breakfast. The students were sorted into their lesson groups, and during урок (lesson) we learned how to introduce ourselves in Russian.
As I sit and watch this years Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it occurs to me that the Olympics are very much like summer camp. For a brief moment in time, people from all over the world come together to experience something magical. Then, in the blink of an eye, everyone returns to their respective homes, enriched by the lessons learned and looking forward to returning once again.
Today the four-week students finished their final exams and were able to breathe and relax this afternoon. In the two-week program, classes are busy learning preparing for the closing program on Saturday. Tonight’s evening program was “Night at the Dacha.” In honor of the students’ completion of the credit program, everyone was able to relax near the beach. The beach was open this evening, and those who didn’t want to swim could play games nearby, get their faces painted, or simply relax with friends. Afterwards, we all headed inside for a talent show. There was a true variety of acts this evening, and it was great to see how talented Lesnoe Ozero villagers are!