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A journey through cross cultural learning
I've always wanted to visit Russia.
I wasn't satisfied to read about Russia, I wanted to meet Russian people, to know them, and to visit them in their homeland.
I set about (приступить к чему-либо) trying to find a way to visit the Soviet Union.
It's been over fifteen years since I heard that radio broadcast and I'm finally in Russia. I'm working as a teacher at a university just west of the Ural Mountains in a town that happens to be the home of the AK 47.
So what have I learned during the first six months of my Russian experience? Several people from varying walks of life (люди с разным общественным положением и родом деятельности) have asked me to comment on my impressions of everything Russian from food, shopping, and toilets, to the educational system and the Russian Soul. Several thoughts collide and coalesce (объединяться) on a continuing course of learning and experience.
I love Russian food! I've been a vegetarian for years and avoided the American tendency to "grab a burger" at the nearest, fast-food drive-thru.(through) I do miss pizza parlors. However, the lack of these eating establishments has caused me to spend more time in the kitchen with my Russian friends making our own pizza. I treasure (высоко ценить) cooking and eating with my friends back home, and doing so here has eased (уменьшать, облегчать) the loneliness and the transition to a new environment. Now I look forward to learning how to prepare pelmeni, piroshki, bliny, borsch, and shchce!
Shopping is always an adventure. When I first arrived I was intimidated (наводить страх, пугать) not only by my lack of Russian language skills, but of a different system of weights and measures, different currency (sales tags all written in a different language, of course), the way in which a customer approaches a sales clerk, and the very different attitudes toward "customer service." In the U.S. one goes into a store, picks up whatever he or she wants to buy, gets in line (with the appropriate amount of "personal space" between self and the customers in front and in back of you) to the cashier who rings the items into the register, the customer pays and then is on his/her way out the door. If a customer can't find an item, there are clerks who are encouraged (поощрять) to assist you. American businesses and retailers have sayings such as "Service with a Smile" and «The customer is always right»
Language classes. I tend to get students out of their chairs and on their feet as often as possible. I try to give them "voice,"' get them comfortable with their voice; and bodies, get them to exercise their voice and bodies, and to encourage them to use them effectively in front of a class. There is really nothing revolutionary in this method of teaching, but I did have difficulty in implementing (применять) it during the training period last fall (осень). This difficulty was due, in part, I believe, to the fact that the students simply were not used to getting out of their seats, speaking out improvising, or otherwise being vocal, except when called upon to answer a question that was out of their textbooks. These experiences assisted me in evaluating and reevaluating my teaching style and also awakened me (пробудили во мне интерес) to the differences and to the advantages of a completely different approach to running a class. I certainly would not dispute the way in which language has been taught here. The language proficiency of the teachers and their students is excellent. The results indicate that the system is working.
Perhaps one of the most startling(поразительные) differences I discovered in Russian universities and those in the U.S. is the scheduling procedure. I came from school systems that mapped out (планировать) the entire school calendar, compiled (собранный), posted(вывешенные), and mailed it out to students, staff, and faculty, before the school year started. In this way teachers and students knew which classes were being held at which time and in which room. All the school holidays were listed, so work assignments, days off, and vacations could be planned in advance. Basically, everyone knew where to go and when. So, I was surprised when I arrived here, and sometimes there would be no classroom available. And sometimes there was a school holiday that I didn't know about.
One of my colleagues here mused (высказал своё мнение) that, "Americans are so impatient!" His previous impression was that we were casual (несерьезный, легкомысленный) and flexible, but when faced without a classroom at a specific time, or given an unexpected holiday, we are simply unable to cope with(справиться с) the change. He's got a point.
The Russian Soul.
I was a guest on a local radio station recently and the radio announcer asked me to comment on the Russian Soul. I had about one second to think about it and another second to reply. As I mentioned earlier, I believe I would be presumptuous (самонадеянный) to try and comment on such profundities(серьёзные вещи). I will say that I amcontinually baffled (приводить в замешательство) by the outwardly cool and distant attitude of many people I meet in a store or on a tram or bus, but who will then drop everything to walk me home or help me in some task I need to accomplish like buying a ticket or going to the post office. And when I’ve been invited into the homes of Russian families whom I've never met before, their generosity, warmth, and hospitality has been as abundant(изобиловать) and overflowing as the food and the drink on the table. I will never forget their kindnesses.
My experiences in Russia have been wonderful and frightening, silly and profound, confusing and enlightening (просвещать), frustrating, and illuminating.(разъяснять, проливать свет на что-л.).
(A fragment from the article “One American in Russia. A journey through cross cultural learning.” by Dyanne Durr, US Peace Corps, 2001.)
В тексте найдите информацию о:
a) the period of time it was written
b) who and what helped the author to survive in Russia
c) what she was intimidated by
d) the most startling differences in Russian universities
e) what the author was continually baffled by
Составьте вопросы WHY-и WHAT- по тексту (не менее 5 вопросов).
-Why do you think the author has always wanted to visit Russia?
-What was her dream?
Подготовьтесь к обсуждению следующих тем:
1. What difficulties might you face being abroad?
2. What might cause a cultural shock? Have you ever had it?
Напишите статью в студенческую газету на тему “Advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad”(объем не более 200 слов).
Представьте презентации (примерный список тем):
o Around London,
o Around Great Britain,
o English speaking countries,
«Studying abroad», «Cross-cultural differences».
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