EVS story of Marie Kucerova

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How is it to be a volunteer in this school?

For every foreigner eager to explore a new culture cannot be nothing better than becoming a volunteer.As my stay in the school coming to its end, I was asked to write about my experience here. First of all, I have to note that my stay in Russia was the most interesting part of my life. It would be unimaginable without the help of outstanding, hospitable and caring people to whom I was surrounded all the time.

I arrived at the end of October 2013. For the common European as I am, it was already cold. The first few weeks I was surprised by the size of things usual for any Russian. I simply couldn’t believe how huge trains are, how long you have to travel from Moscow to Kirov and how the Russians treat this distances as nothing out of ordinary.

Getting to know

All over the top I came to Kirov – to my new home for the following nine months. I managed to say “привет” and some other basic phrases. New job and completely different life style expected me. I have chosen the voluntary service as something adventurous. Since I remember I was interested in Russian life, actually in the Russian life as I imagined so. I want to experience how it is to really live and work in the most rumored and the biggest country in the world.

The first experience with my new work couldn’t have been better. Straight away, I came to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Kirov Lyceum.  Again I couldn’t believe my eyes how big everything is. How flashy the celebration in such a large building be and how many people could be gathered. From that time I new my volunteering project have been chosen very well.

The program

During my stay here I participated in as much activities as I could. I tried to hand some aspects of Czech culture on students. Since I could not speak Russian good enough I start to make presentations about the Czech Republic, Czech culture and customs in English.

Time to time, when the school was in short of English teachers I helped out. It was as much fun for me as for “my” students.  I have to admit they were the most successful teachers of Russian to me.  One example will suffice. For a foreigner from a country, where the language has a regular stress on the first syllable, after one of the English class I will never ever forget, how important is to differentiate between пиСАть and ПИсать .

Step by step I acquired more and more Russian words to the extent I could work with little children. I prepared for them a few traditional fairy tales with a sloppy translation into Russian.  Indeed, the first presentation didn’t go smoothly. Fortunately, smart children understood I was unable use their language properly. Embracing my mistakes they found a boy (from the second grade) who understood me and translated everything I said to proper Russian language. Anyway, after initial troubles we got along amazingly and together discovered stories by Karel Capek and his dog Dasenka, Josef Lada’s cat Mikes and many others storytellers.

An inseparable part of my volunteering program is meeting other volunteers. All of us, we are eager to get to know Russia, which means to travel as much as we can and communicate with local people as much as they understand us. That’s why the students of the Lyceum could meet young volunteers from Croatia, England, Germany, Slovakia, USA etc.

By the end of the school year I created a presentation about the most well-known Czech writers and presented them at the literature classes. I hope children will remember who was Jaroslav Hasek, why Franz Kafka did not like Prague, and what is so important about Vaclav Havel.

There could be nothing better

The more closer to my departure the more I do not want to think about my non-Russian life. It shows how much I fell in love with Russians (but not with any particular Russian boy, thoughJ) and how much I will miss all the magic world of a foreign girl in the middle of Russia.  I wish to my successor to get the same flawless experience as I got because I cannot imagine anything better.

Marie Kucerova