A Taste of Russia

Gordon College doesn’t offer Russian, so when I received a grant to promote Russian language study at my school, I was elated. As many of you know, Russian language is one of my greatest passions, and I will jump at any opportunity to share my excitement with others. The Critical Language Scholarship, the program through which I studied in Vladimir, Russia, offers small grants to alumni to further pursue their critical language of choice. They agreed with me that promoting Russian at Gordon would be a great idea, so I set out to create an evening that would give students just a little taste of the country and language that I have fallen in love with.

I was pleasantly surprised to have 16 attendees, two of which were professors. We began the evening by diving into the Cyrillic alphabet. I learned Cyrillic about ten years ago, so I was unsure as to how much time people would need to get the hang of it. In a few minutes though, students were reading cognates like “шоколад” (shokolad) and “президент” (presidyent) and writing their names in the Russian script!

After they had gotten the hang of Cyrillic, students split up into groups and practiced simple greetings. This was definitely fun, but my favorite part of the evening was teaching a favorite Russian folk song,”Миленький ты мой” (My Darling). This song is a conversation between a man and a woman, with the woman trying to convince the man to take her with him. She firsts asks to be his wife, to which he replies that he already has a wife; next, she revises her proposal and says that she will be his sister, but he tells her he already has a sister. Finally, she demotes herself to being a stranger, as long as it means going with him, but alas, he has no need of a stranger. This seems to be a dismal ending for our young woman, but our folklore teacher in Vladimir taught us the “Хулиганский вариант,” (The Hooligan Version), in which the girl sings “Миленький ты мой, ну и чёрт с тобой! Там в краю далёком, есть у меня другой.” This translates roughly to “My darling, go to hell! Where you’re going I already have someone else.” So yes, Russian folk music has boasted Taylor Swift renditions before Taylor Swift’s grandparents were even thought up.
We ended the night by feasting upon a spread of delicious Russian cuisine. Included in our meal were блины и одадьи (thin and thick pancakes), варенье из чёрной смородины (black currant jam), сырники (pancakes made from farmer’s cheese), хлеб с колбасой и сыром (bread with kielbasa and cheese), шоколад (chocolate), пряники (gingerbread), и чай (tea).
The evening was wonderful, and I am so thankful to have had the chance to share my love for Russia with those at my school. It was a joy to interact other Gordon students who are interested in Russia that I might not have met otherwise. Yes, the evening was wonderful, but definitely not enough to satisfy my appetite for all things Russian. It is my hope that by this time next year, I won’t be ordering Russian food online, but taking a маршрутка (taxi-bus) to the магазин (store) to buy my beloved творог (farmer’s cheese) and свежий хлеб (fresh bread).
This blog does not necessarily represent the views of the CLS Program, the Department of State, or American Councils.
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