This week I was invited to visit two schools and make presentations in the classes of the teenagers with whom I've been living here in Simferopol. It was a lot of fun. Actually, it was beyond fun. To me, being in the classroom is pure passion, it's euphoria. Especially because as guest-for-one-day, there are no papers to grade, no major issues to deal with. Only the responsibility of providing some enlightenment and perhaps entertainment for an hour or two. I'd say we managed to accomplish that. It was hard for me to leave. In fact they basically had to push me out the door ~ a slight exaggeration perhaps. But first Tell us about America, they said. And so I did.
Above is Julia's class. This school is an academy of sorts and the kids there are the sharpies. Every single student has a home computer. Amazing then, that they loved singing There Was an Old Lady (Who Swallowed a FLY), all eight verses from the fly to the horse. Does that song count as talking about America? Well, it just might.
I talked mostly about Texas and the Ukraine, comparing the two. Thanks to the internet, lots of good information is literally at ones fingertips. For instance you might already know this: 1) Texas and Ukraine are almost exactly the same size. 2) The population of Ukraine is twice that of Texas. 3) About Texas geography: woods in the east to desert in the west. 4) About industries in Texas - especially stereotypical Texas - cattle industry (cowboys), oil business (wealth and how fickle it can be) and cotton growing (I recall living in Texas' panhandle and seeing those big bales of cotton first-hand. 5) I talked about Crawford, Texas and my visit there the spring after The Crawford Summit (maybe fall 2001) when Russia's President Putin visited President Bush and they did a press conference in the high school gymnasium. Told them about visiting students there and talking with them about Russia, giving souvenirs, teaching them a song in Russian.
Oh, and to Julia's class I also took apple-raisin-walnut cake along with the recipe, measuring cups and spoons. We talked about measuring ingredients, food preparation and such. Lots of bonus points for taking a genuine, all-American snack. Since of course families nationwide snack on apple-raisin-walnut cake on a regular basis. Could have made brownies, I suppose. . .
Last weekvisited 8th grade geography classes. Besides the Texas-Ukraine information, the teacher wanted a lesson on western Ukraine, since I had offered. So we did a PowerPoint Slide Show of Ivano-Frankovsk and Lviv, cities of western Ukraine that I've able to visit recently as part of my gypsy adventure. The culture there is somewhat different - more European/Polish/nationalistic Ukrainian influence and less Russian influence than here in eastern Ukaine and Crimea.
Here are the best questions students asked: 1) Of all the places you've visited in America, which is the most interesting. (I answered that as much as I love the US, visiting Ukraine and Russia is more interesting to me nowadays.) 2) How has this week's financial crises in the US affecting people and what do you think will be the outcome of this. (It affects people right where it hurts, in the pocketbook, especially those looking at retirement soon. But that I figure this is a good time to buy-buy-buy while the market is low. But of course only God knows what the future holds.)
Most interesting response: 1) Question: Texas is the 2nd largest state in the US. Who might know - what is the largest state? Answer: Canada (This answer came up twice).
That's okay, I guess. Got to confess that even in recent years, I've had to double-check about Crimea, never imagining that I would be spending time here. I've learned that although Crimea is a part of Ukraine, it is an independent republic.
Maybe some think that Canada is in independent republic of the US? (Apologies to you dear Canadians!) But. . . but is it possible to find there an old lady who would swallow a fly?