Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Magic Moment I Remember by Alexander Pushkin

A magic moment I remember:
I raised my eyes and you were there,
A fleeting vision, the quintessence
Of all that's beautiful and rare.

I pray to mute despair and anguish,
To vain the pursuits world esteems,
Long did I hear your soothing accents,
Long did your features haunt my dreams.

Time passed. A rebel storm-blast scattered
The reveries that once were mine
And I forgot your soothing accents,
Your features gracefully divine.

In dark days of enforced retirement
I gazed upon gray sky above
With no ideals to inspire me,
No one to cry for, live for, love.

Then came a moment of renaissance,
I looked up - you again were there -
A fleeting vision, the quintessence
Of all that's beautiful and rare.

My heart is feeling celebration,
I did remember it again -
The aim to strive, the inspiration,
And love, and life, and sweet heart pain.

A Concert of Russian Songs

I am homesick again, although I am going home in just 2 months. I have just come from a concert of Russian songs organized in the University of Vermont by Global Village and Russian House. Four people from post-Soviet countries got together in Vermont and began the ensemble New Inspiration. They have experience of singing in opera houses in Russia, post-Soviet countries, Europe and the USA. Their repertoire varies from opera and romance to Russian folk songs. It was so heart-breaking to hear the songs that I used to sing with my family and friends at our home-gatherings and understand that they are so far from me. I really miss those times...

It was so nice to see a young woman from a Siberian city which is located not very far from my hometown. All people noticed our resemblance and it is a reason for people to think that all women in Siberia look like me :-). This concert reminded me that singing and any other art does not know boarders: Russia, Moldova and Belarus are represented in the ensemble.

But this concert reminded me as well that I am leaving in just 2 months and will leave my friends I found and became close here. Our life is full of coming and going, always leaving a piece of the heart in the place you lived. Is my heart that big and I will have something left?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An amazing translation of a wonderful Russian poem by Fyodor Tyutchev

Silentium — Fyodor Tyutchev

Translated by Vladimir Nabokov

Speak not, lie hidden, and conceal
the way you dream, the things you feel.
Deep in your spirit let them rise
akin to stars in crystal skies
that set before the night is blurred:
delight in them and speak no word.
How can a heart expression find?
How should another know your mind?
Will he discern what quickens you?
A thought once uttered is untrue.
Dimmed is the fountainhead when stirred:
drink at the source and speak no word.
Live in your inner self alone
within your soul a world has grown,
the magic of veiled thoughts that might
be blinded by the outer light,
drowned in the noise of day, unheard…
take in their song and speak no word.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Class for the "Treasure Box of Education"

I am still excited about attending today's class "Languages of the World" taught by Elizabeth O'Dowd. Please let me give a brief review of this course before I speak about today's lesson because I am excited after each class and after each assignment for this class.

I can't but admire Elizabeth O'Dowd, a professor of Applied Linguistics Department at St. Michael's College and her approach to teaching. She was very kind to allow me for sitting in her Languages of the World class. It is an undergraduate course, but I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in languages, culture, intercultural communication and simply self-development attend this class. The course covers languages of the world, their birth, development and death, their typology, geography and how globalization influences them. I am amazed by the fact that I reviewed geography of the world while preparing for this class; I looked at my linguistic knowledge and linguistic education from a different perspective; I even re-evaluated myself, my language and my culture while attending this class.

The readings for the class cover each issue from various perspectives; there are always videos or YouTube posts for many aspects covered in class. In addition, participation in the class discussion contributes significantly to the theoretical material because there are always a few international students in class and the American students are also with different background and brilliant ideas. However, the most significant contribution factor is that Professor O'Dowd invites international students to speak about their languages. I was one of those quest speakers and made a presentation about the Russian language. Therefore, we read, watch video and then listen to a native speaker of that language. And this is the reason of my today's excitement :-).

This week we began a new section of the course: "Language and Globalization" and the first topic was Multilingual Nations where we read about India, Canada and the USA. After discussing the material of the book, we had a guest speaker from India. It was exciting to hear her comments on what we read in the book and to hear her stories about the language policies and education in India. It is amazing that most of the people are, at least, bilingual in India because they have around 500 languages 23 of which are official!!!!! It is a new concept for me to know that

- if you want to work in government you should know English and Hindi;

- depending on your "caste" you speak a particular language and even a particular level of it.

I read about it long ago, but it all seemed just a mystery, just sci-fi. But to speak with a person who grew up in that environment and considers it a normal style of lie turns your worldview up-side-down.
I guess it is the greatest aspect of Professor's O'Dowd's class that not only teaches she about the languages and asks you to read about them but gives an opportunity to her students to speak with real people and hear what the reality of the other world is.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Last Station

It is true and so amazing that a Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, is one of the most celebrated authors in the world after one hundred years since he died. While people love literature and read, our spiritual core is alive.

Tonight I have seen "The Last Station", a new release of an American movie about the last days of our great novelist Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy. It was an interesting interpretation of a Russian character and of Lev Nikolaevich. I was especially amazed by the casting for the movie because most of the people looked quite Russian or, at least, Slavic. Although I got homesick again, I was happy to see Russian landscapes and Russian settings. It was also exciting to speak about the impression after the movie with people of different background: a woman from Moldova was very critical about the film (and I somehow understand her because it was about us and about our writer :-) ) because many episodes were quite Americanized. But what can we do about that? When something is written in another language, it loses its authenticity. Besides, it is difficult to depict a character from another country, culture, language background and era. My two American friends who are in love with Russian literature loved the movie and we discussed how true the interpretation was. This film provoked debates about his writings, his life, Russian literature in general and education. I am happy to have friends with whom I can watch such films and have such interesting discussions! I am grateful to St. Michael's for meeting them (I met my friends in this college). I will miss them and such wonderful evenings very much...

Friday, December 18, 2009


I just had a wonderful "end of the semester" evening: cooking Russian food (vareniki) with adding some Maldivian flavour (tuna) and filling everything with the joy of being with amazing people. The meal was followed by a nice movie "In Her Shoes". It was a nice light story to watch, but it had a touching poem read in it, which I really liked. This is
"One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop:
The art of losing isn't hard to master:
so many things seem filled wih the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch. And look, my last,
or next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lost two cities. Lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.
Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Teaching and learning issues

As a memeber of TESOL I have just participated in a virtual seminar titled "Closing the Achievement Gap for Limited Formal Schooling and Long-Term English Language Learners." This theme was especially topical because yesterday we had Rita McDonald speaking about WIDA standards where she touched upon the same issues. Partcipating in this type of events I realize more and more what a difficult job American teachers are doing and how challenging it is to teach in an American school. From 9 years of personal teaching experience I can say that teaching is not an easy task. And I taught Russian students in Russia, where all students speak Russian and literacy rate is about 98%. It is difficult to imaging teaching in this country where the population is so diverse with different cultural background and some people come without any formal education at all.