Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Orientation

Comrades,

I completed a day and a half of orientation and am ready to jet off to the Motherland. All twenty-eight CLS participants have unique backgrounds, specialties, personalities and levels of Russian. There is one individual pursuing a PhD in Slavic Languages and literature and another who is a Chemistry major who spent a year in high school living with a host family in Irkutsk. There are political scientists, anthropologists and lovers of Pushkin. I feel honored to be with such a diverse and talented group of individuals. Plus, one of my friends from sleep away camp is on the program. Talk about small world!


The real highlight of today was when U.S. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine spoke to the group. It was incredibly rewarding to see a high level official devote personal attention to a State department program. I presume it must be equally rewarding for her to see the fruits of her (and that of the entire State Department's) labor.

Tomorrow, we fly out to Domodedovo airport in Moscow. Upon arriving in the capital, we will embark on a 6-hour bus ride to Vladimir where I will then meet my host family and pass out before more orientation and language testing.

I received some basic information about my host family and I am thrilled to be staying with a retired medical nurse named Olga. She has a daughter who lives separately with her two children, who occasionally visit Olga. While my previous homestay experiences involved large and in charge families, I am looking forward to some one-on-one time with a Russian institution, the babushka. 

Well, that's all for now. The next time I post I will be in Vladimir, so stay tuned!

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