Reflection / Отражение
The semester is wrapping up. I’ve been busy grading papers and trying not to dwell too much on the fact that I go back in three weeks.
I can’t even fathom it. The time has gone so fast.
So now I’ve begun to do a little reflecting and I found something I wrote to my friends a couple of months ago. I can’t believe I’ve never shared it with you. But here it is:
I was guest lecturing at a private language school, as I was recommended by the university. I was teaching a group of 11 – 12 year olds at the elementary level. We were doing an activity where they were given drawings and they had to describe what was happening in the pictures to a partner. One boy was having a hard time, so I took a look. The picture was of people waiting at an airport, but the way it was drawn was kind of overwhelming even for me. So I told him to start with something he knew and continue from there. I pointed to the airplane and asked him to identify it. He did so correctly, and then I asked him what the people were doing. He then began to describe it (rather well, actually). At that point, I decided to teach them what to do if they are speaking English and want to say something they do not have the vocabulary for. I had them come up to the board and write a word that they knew in Russian but not in English. I then had them describe this word in English. One clever boy gave a word that had no English translation—kokoshnik, which is a type of hat. I explained that if they could use what vocabulary they know to describe what they don’t know, they could still communicate and be understood and they would probably be told the proper word to use. I would then tell them the English translation (if there was one) of the word they had chosen.
The person who learned the most from this, however, was me.
I went to a gathering at my friend Lena’s place and seeing as my friend Max was in Thailand at the time and my friend Katya was busy working, I was with no one who spoke English. I was okay with this, because normally I speak Russian, but it’s helpful to ask for the words I’m looking for when I don’t know. However, remembering the lesson today, I decided to take my own advice and use what I already know. And you know what? I’ve never spoken Russian better.
My friend Mike has said to me many times: “You have everything you need to be a complete person.” It wasn’t until recently that I realized what he meant. I have the tools and the parts, I just have to put them together and use them.
I think I have discovered myself. I feel a sense of understanding that I have never experienced before. And lately I noticed that people’s attitudes toward me are changing for the better. I am being more respected. What actually highlighted this change for me was that I think I have found a romantic partner who will treat me right. My friend Mallory told me after I broke up with Mac: “You must be confident in yourself and the right people will come to you.” I was tired to being mistreated by myself and others, so I finally decided to work on understanding and accepting who I am. I am certain now that I have reached that point. I feel I am where I need to be in terms of personal progression.
When I said Russia has done me a lot of good, I really meant it. It has done wonders for me. I think you will see it when I return to the States.
Going back over this has reminded me of the cycle of back and forth in terms of personal progress that I have made, but I think overall I have moved forward. And it feels fantastic.
When I get back, I’m going to have a coming back party with my friends, get a new haircut, work on getting a full-time job, and spend time with my family. I think these are the best possible things I can do for myself.
I am truly torn about coming home. On the one hand, I am going to miss everyone here in Russia. I have made a home here. Really, it’s the first time I’ve been able to make a life I can call completely my own. But on the other hand, I miss everyone at home, more than you can imagine.
I hope the changes in me become apparent to my loved ones. I know they have been waiting a long, long time to see me become more confident. I think this time they’re going to. I have my ups and downs in confidence from time to time, but it’s been getting better overall.
I must go, moyi druz’ya, but take care and be well.