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My Teaching Story in Russia

Popularity 26Viewed 7265 times 2014-12-18 22:05 |Personal category:活动|System category:Life| impressive, volunteer, Teaching, teacher, country

      "Hey teacher! Chairman Mao!"

      "Hey teacher! Jackie Chan!"

      "Hey teacher! We love China!"

      Those voices are from my lovely Russian students. 2015 is coming, looking back to 2014, the most impressive thing I have done maybe is teaching in Russia as a volunteer. That happened last winter vocation. A total year has passed, but every time I walk on the street, the freezing wind always reminds me of the snow-covered silver world in Russia, the amazing country. Now I'd like to share my teaching story to all of you and review the touching experience for myself.

      I went to Russia through a student organization called AIESEC, I have applied for teaching local teenagers English and Chinese, as well as disseminating Chinese culture. The city I went to is not Moscow, not Saint Petersburg, but an obscure one called Omsk. Located in 55°N, the average temperature is -30. So everywhere in my eyes was peppered with nothing but city-wide snow and withered trees. The whole city seemed like under-developed, no splendid palaces, no modern architectures, but old-styled apartments with red brick walls and flattop ceilings. All the buildings resembled those in 90s of China, bringing me back to the last century’s China. People enjoyed a laid-back lifestyle, you can see many grannies wearing fur coats stagger on the street and soldiers wearing uniforms patrol around. The people, the white snow, the perched pigeons, the freezing wind, the mink coats, all contributed to my impression of that city. 

      My job was served in the local school and I was responsible for teaching English. Russian children were so thrilled to embrace a foreigner that they kept asking me this and that. Because of their surging enthusiasm about China, later all my teaching contents became associated with Chinese culture. However, when I asked their impressions about China, all the answers I got seemed old-fashioned and fixed images. Apart from Jackie Chan and Bruce Li, they knew nothing about Chinese movies. Similarly, besides tea, the Great Wall, the big population, their concept about China was vague and ambiguous. 

      Even every time I stepped in classroom, a little boy would somehow hail Chairman Mao cheerfully. I was so delighted they were impressed with our former president. However when I asked if they knew our current president, to my surprise, most of them thought it was still Chairman Mao! Oh, it was really astonishing and ridiculous. But one day what I happened to hear from two boys’ conversation was even more incredible. A boy boasted to another:” Do you know Chinese men wear pigtails? “” Really? I didn’t hear it. It’s so interesting!” another boy answered. “What? You don’t know? It’s said now their pigtails are getting longer and longer…” Hearing this, I couldn’t help chuckling. Simultaneously, I was lost in thought. Is it so-called culture stereotype? I pondered it was high time updated their information about China. So I resorted to some pictures and videos to show the true side of our contemporary men and a real China. The moment I saw their enlightened faces, it dawned on me that I have made a little change to their stereotypes! It felt so great!

      At the very beginning, they were so curious and inquisitive, but as time goes by, I found that only talking could be so tedious, I had to think of some fresh ideas in order to draw their attentions. After racking my brain, I finally came up with some good ideas to liven up the class atmosphere. What have I done? First of all, I had to get a pair of chopsticks. But I forgot to bring them from home, how can I get them? From my observation, I found that Russian were so fascinated about Japanese food. So I went to Sushi shop and got a pair of chopsticks. Then, I went to retails and purchased some marble chocolates. Afterwards, I used some pieces of paper to make several boxes. All things were done! 

      One day, I announced to my students that today we were going to hold a competition about Chinese handicrafts. That was picking up marble chocolates with chopsticks! Russian students were so active and smart that they could use chopsticks sophisticatedly, out of my expectation! Seeing their passion, I taught them another Chinese handicraft---paper-cutting! To be honest, I didn’t know how to do it. But thanks to the video on the internet, I grasped it and decided to pass on the traditional Chinese handicraft to those lovely children! Looking at their devotion in learning, a sense of self-accomplishment rose in my heart. Am I bridging the gap between cultures? Am I making Chinese culture popular? Am I doing a little bit changes to the world? Maybe the answers are yes.

      Too many unforgettable things happened during the two months. I was invited to visit the school historical museum where the stuffs revealed the tough but glorious period of the previous Soviet Union; I met many excellent people who could speak five languages and traveled for more than thirty countries; I saw how Russian life is; I felt how versatile and hospital Russian children are… When it came to the moment I had to leave, tears kept running down. I still remember children told me they would choose China as the top priority of their travel destination, and they sent me gifts, hugs and sincere wishes. Maybe it is the exact reflection of two countries friendships, person to person, and heart to heart. For a larger mind, the whole world is a big family. Many thanks for the impressive experience, love in 55°N latitude.

Me and my students

Me and my students


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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