It’s Saturday, and it is not so different that we will be going to the school this afternoon to deliver another workshop, but more crazy that I am awake at 7 in the morning. It’s Saturday! Yes, but, there is still much to do, and too much excitement running through my veins to even think about going back to sleep.
My stomach is also grumbling loudly. It is not upset because it is hungry, but more so because we spent the evening at Sasha’s parents house dining late on delicious Russian dinner. So delicious that I continued to ingest potatos, pork, beets, and biscuits, despite the arguments from my body that it may have been time to stop. My insides will be really, really quite upset in about a half hour when I raid Sasha’s fridge for the leftovers her parents sent back with us. I cannot think of anything else I would rather for breakfast.
We delivered our session three days ago on the intercultural dynamics of travelling abroad, and I learned so much myself about how to prepare for new experiences and frame those from the past to better understand the cultural exchage and benefit from it on a personal level. Great, theory from a project called APPLY!!! Hahaha, I will tell you that in theory, practice and theory are always the same. In practice, this is never true. I’m not sure where I heard that, but it is absolutely true.
The exchange at sessions is of course intercultural, and aside from the english/russian language dynamics there are other non-verbal dimensions to consider. However, having been invited for dinner at Sasha’s parents’ was a completely Russian experience. I was nervous to have a quiet dinner as direct communication may not be possible, again I was wrong (it is becoming a trend). Even without the necessary translation from Sasha the dinner would still have been filled with smiles and laughter. The food was too exquisite and the company too grand for anything but fun. Later, Sasha’s father toured us through their home that they have been building for over 12 years. Still, in the unfinished upper floors you can see the solid construction of wood and brick that hide beneath the plaster walls downstairs. The bricks having been re-used from another demolition already have their own history that could tell a tale two hundred years into the past. Again, some of the translation was lost, but none of the appreciation for what her mother and father have accomplished in building this home. I did not feel a sense of inadequacy until we had to leave and I could not articulate my gratitude, so thanks to Sasha for the help.
At the end of this, it is so wonderful to know and have reaffirmed in each Russian encounter, that though there can some barriers to our direct communication and many discrete differences in our non-verbal actions, there appears to be no cultural dimension that masks any expression of human kindness.
Today we are presenting partner universities, but instead of program specifics we will be using the opportunity to explore how the university experience will shape the life of an international student. I suppose at some point I should begin blogging about the project in more detail, but really all you need to know at this point is that we have an extremely involved group who I love going to see everyday, and we are about half done the workshop delivery though know we are just beginning the professional relationships and friendships that are forming. I have to agree with Gioel in her recent post that the delivery of a project is essential to the Recrear International experience. It is so stressful, and really quite a mass of work for a holiday season, but the energy generated from thoughtful blog posts and smiling faces is quite unique and I can forecast not only positive outcomes for the organization but also reverberations through to the lives of all the participants in the project.