Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back from English Camp!

Hello again from the Irkutsk Penguin Hostel, where I am spending a few days relazing before my next project which begins in three short days. I came home early from the Eco-English camp project, located about 9 kilometers north of Listvyanka, because I needed some time to gather my wits before the completion of my time here. And so I am here, in the quiet, quiet hostel, enjoying some privacy and some peace.

I was recently informed that my blog is now linked to the Oberlin blog - so to all you prospective Obies, welcome! I added a link to the much-underused (and long unedited) website for OCREECAS, the fund that provided me with a grant for this summer's work, which you should definitely check out as a huge available resource for you if you are at all interested in travelling, working, and learning more about Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. I'm not a REES major myself, in case you were worried about pressure to major in Russian in order to get funds.

I have no pictures for you as of yet; unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries early in the trip and I have yet to procure them from shops in town. The region we were living in was one of the most biologically diverse regions that I've ever seen, as well as one of the most beautiful - it was easy to see over 30 species of wildflowers in half a kilometer of trail, or 10 species of butterflies in one place, often landing on your hands or face, on sunny days by the lake. We camped right on the shore, which was a powerful experience, though not quite powerful enough to overcome my sense of disorderly boredom that eventually drove me back to the city. The project was frustratingly run, with little organization and no real role for me as a native speaker of English, and though I had fun teaching lessons about America - more contradancing and singing were involved, as well as a spontaneous rendition of "Cotton Eye Joe" - I found that my experiences this time around weren't expecially rewarding.

In three days I embark on a new journey in the same national park, this time just a few kilometers north of Bolshiye Koty, though the project will have a similar feel to my first project, clearing trails and doing purely physical labor with a mixed group of Russians and foreigners. I think it will be better for me to be in a situation where I am not the only native English speaker, and especially where my ability to speak English isn't the focus of my volunteering. The new friends I made were really great, and I look forward to seeing them here in a few short days... and for now, some rest.

Stay tuned for updates, possibly pictures, and lots of love from Siberia!

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