Since I was in high school I have always wanted to visit Russia. While backpacking through Europe I was going to join a tour of Moscow and St
Petersburg. Instead I found something that would be more of a cultural experience. I applied to the SV Agency and became a volunteer in 2004.
My time in Izhevsk was amazing. The classes I attended were filled with very enthusiastic students, not only ready to learn English but also about my culture. The teenagers in these classes are different
from any other teenagers I have met. They enjoyed telling me about their Russian life, culture, their dreams and aspirations. In return
they loved hearing about Australia, my travel and seeing photos of my family.
The highlight of the trip was a weekend bike trip. The students and international volunteers rode about 110km (round trip) out to a small village to deliver supplies. We got to stay there overnight. During the weekend trip we not only saw the wonderful Russian countryside we
also tried Russian cuisine, learnt more about Russian way of life and had a banya.
The depth of Russian cultural within this remote village area was amazing. Some of the villagers said it was the first time they ever
met a foreigner. One of our student hosts (Valentine) took us to the 'local village disco'. This was an enchanting experience I will never forget, about 12 of us hoped into a van and drove outside the village.
We suddenly stopped on the side of the road. Valentine turned the radio up and we all danced on the road side. The students have an
amazing love of life, that is different from the western world.
I still keep in contact with my host family and some of the other volunteers. If the chance arose gain I would love to participate in the program again. I suggest anyone given the opportunity to participate do so.
(Some of the male students are avid coin collectors. They loved seeing and receiving some of the foreign coins in my possession.)
Volunteered: June 20 - July, 2004