Tuesday, April 8, 2014

scholastic adventures (схоластичные приключения)

Wow, I let writing the blog slip. It has been almost two months now.

A lot has happened and so I plan on writing a couple posts to break it up for you guys. The first post is about teaching and research. But I want you all to know that I have not forgotten you. I have remembered you and I often think about you, and many of the pictures I take of places are for you, not for my own records (although some are for me).

To begin the domestic I’d like to start with my Speech and Debate class. The first month went extremely well as I mentioned in my previous post. However, while it has still gone well it has seen many changes. The class originally was composed of 6 students: 4 from the school that hosted it and 2 from the homeschool community (when parents teach their kids at home instead of sending them to public or private schools). One of the homeschool students left after the 4th week for reasons unknown. The second homeschool student left after the 5th week, but his departure was more understood. He has dyslexia and although he was a very bright boy and delivered great speeches, the reading and writing in class were too difficult for him. We were supposed to have the debate on GMO vs. Organic food in the 6th week but different students were continuously getting sick so the debate was postponed and postponed. And after the 7th week we lost another student because the mother removed her children from the school (only one in my class). The class now only has 3 students, but they eventually did very well in their debate (although the rules had to change), and have continued to do well in their speeches (we decided to not have any more debates). Their behavior has gotten poor the last couple classes, but their speeches are quite good and they are learning about different social issues as well as how language changes how something sounds (remember your lessons from intermediate on the “nice” apartment in NYC with a “nice” living room and a “good” view and near “good” restaurants; and then the cabin in Canada with “breathtaking” views and “spacious” rooms???) Change the language and what you say/write sounds different. I made them read a text titled the “Nacirema” that I love and perhaps you all can now read it, but it was too difficult for Intermediate classes. They hated reading it until the end and then they loved it (but I won’t spoil it for you). Social issues we’ve been studying for speeches are “apartments versus individual homes,” “digital publications versus printed paper publications,” and “chain stores/restaurants versus local.” The class ended last week. I’m sad, but unlike when your classes ended, I’m also a little excited (I was only sad when your classes ended). Because the class had become so small and it shifted focus (unlike language where a small class can work, we needed a larger group for this), it was difficult to continue. However, now I need to find another part-time job. Oi.

As I mentioned previously, I have returned to doing some academic research and I am really enjoying it. I am researching about the ecumenical councils because I hope to write an article or two about venerating icons (something the Orthodox do all the time and something that the Episcopal/Anglican Church sometimes do, sometimes not and some people are in favor while others are against). I’m mostly looking at the 7th Ecumenical Council held in Nicaea in 787 A.D. You can read about that here. It has been a lot of fun reading for it. Now I just need to start writing.

Also, Daria and I are returning to Russia. We will arrive at the end of August to start at the beginning of September and I am very much looking forward to it and to seeing you all again. :)))))))))) I will be at Language Link and Daria at СПБГУ. This means I really need to start practicing my Russian again. We haven’t met the group here in a while and I really am forgetting many things. :/ 

There are very few pictures for this category but here are a few. I have no pictures of my students or my class (unlike with you) and and I don't have any about returning to Russia, so these are all about studying and even then . . .

Ok, so my students here didn't buy me any Scotch either (they're 12 and 13 years old), but I figured because some of you gave me the two bottles on the right I would share. The middle I bought at Christmas and the two on the left were given to me by two friends. The black one was from the associate priest (2nd in charge) and he and I were drinking it occasionally in his office. He decided to give the remainder of the bottle to me. My parents, Daria, and I finished it in 4 days of playing cards. But that's what drinking Scotch is for. Obviously I still have some of what you gave me so I don't drink it all the time.

This is St. John's Seminary (Roman Catholic). It is out in the countryside (remember your intermediate lessons), and stunningly beautiful. I am going to 3 different schools for their libraries because of different needs. However, the Catholics have most of the early church stuff (1-10 centuries) that I need. They have been very helpful to me at this place. This is the front office and other things (I think chapel and administration, but I do not know).

The outside of the library where I have done some work.

And the inside. One of the nicest looking libraries I have seen. Absolutely beautiful. I should take a photo of the other libraries (I haven't) to give a comparison.

And the courtyard in the middle of the dorms (where students live).

I do not know if they grow other things, but the seminary has a lemon orchard.

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