Alex and I had our first of many snows of the season yesterday. The only snow I have ever experienced this early in the year was sophomore year hallow-homecoming weekend at JMU. This was a much calmer and less exciting snow event than at JMU, but still very fun. For the past two days we have had the pleasure of experiencing a lovely light snow and wintery mix. Not enough to every accumulate, but enough for locals to finally wear gloves, scarves and hats. (We noticed that before it began snowing they would only wear one or two cold winter clothing items, but never all three at the same time.) We, of course, had to take a picture to document the first snow.
(The kids were just as excited with the first snow, or sneg, as we were)
We have started helping out at Adain Lo Kindergarten/Day Care. This facility is an inclusive Day Care so there are multiple children who have autism and other learning disabilities. I was very excited to start helping out because of my interest in assisting children who are physically or mentally handicap. Yesterday I got paired up with this wonderful child named Gosha, he is nonverbal and autistic. An interesting Russian fun fact is that they do not leverage the autism scale that we know and use regularly. For them, autism is autism and that is that. The director of the Day Care felt that Gosha and I were a perfect match for each other because I am pretty much nonverbal in Russian and he is as well! While we did make a bond, there are always challenges when you can’t communicate simple commands like sit, stop or eat, etc. The other teachers at Adain Lo have been so nice and welcoming. There are a lot of differences between American day cares and Russian day cares and the staff have been great at helping us learn everything we can in such a short amount of time. Another plus is that we get fed every day! We really have no idea what we are eating, but I get to try traditional Russian food so that’s cool. Our go-to are these little mini latke looking things that we think are actually potato based with some other items in there as well. At first I thought that if I eat too many I wont be hungry for actual latkes during Channukah, but I really don’t think that is possible.
Alex and I take the metro to the day care every morning and spend a little under an hour on our commute. The metro is very easy to navigate and frankly I like it a lot better than the DC Metro system right now. A new train comes every 3 minutes, farewell Silver Line single tracking! The metro system is very deep under the ground which is accessible by escalators. I thought the Rosslyn escalator was long, oh no. The deepest station in Russia is 243 feet below the ground. The one thing that I have found quite annoying is that the hand rails move faster than your feet on the escalator! I have no idea why, but initially I had to continuously move my hand back down to my side and was so confused.
Tonight after camp, Alex and I met up with our wonderful friend Rosa who leads an English Club for high schoolers. They watch clips from American TV and then talk about them. Tonight we watched clips that all had a Jewish twist in them covering series from Big Bang Theory, Sex in the City, Friends, Orange Is the New Black and the Simpsons. Needless to say, I was in heaven. Alex and I have only seen movies in Russian since we arrived so it was nice to see a piece of home, but also talk to these bright kids about high school and what they are up to. After the tv clips we played a game where you hold up a piece of paper to your forehead with a well known person or character on it and you have to ask questions to the group to figure out who it is. Well, thanks to my children’s tv and toys education from Mia Soriano, I was able to successfully guess Pinky Pie. Thanks Mia!
Last night Alex and I attended an adult English Club through Hillel. While the discussion started very formally, it ended like a good gossip session about life and of course money. No matter where you are in the world, Jews like to gossip and talk business.
These high schoolers and adults go out of their way to attend these classes just to practice their English. I know that being an American I am so privileged to be able to go half way around the world and still be able to speak in my native tongue. I cannot commend all of these wonderful humans enough that they push themselves on a daily basis to practice English.
The final activity of the night was attending a Klezmer Concert at the Jewish Community Center, YESOD. While I only stayed for the first half, it was full of energy and dancing. The band was wonderful and it was a perfect way to end the night.
Until my next post,