Monday, April 7, 2014


Spent the day LIVING OUT the Russian passion for competition.

We were told to wear 'sport clothes' and that we would be Team USA competing against students.  Frightening for 3 non-athletic teachers.  When we showed up this am, however, we were graced with cheerful purple and yellow matching sport shirts, created for the 2019 Russian Youth Olympics that will be held here in Krasnoyarsk.  Yet another gift from them to us.

Donning the uniform gave us some needed courage. Then, we realized that the young, male PE coaches were to be added to our team!  The same coaches that helped us climb the icy rock hill--our Stolbeasts!  Now THIS could turn out to be fun.  Some needed testosterone to give us a fighting chance against youth. The remaining 3 teams were all comprised of high school students.

As we entered the gym, Olympic music blared over the speakers.  We were cheered with pom poms as we rounded the perimeter. We then realized our team was the "Happy Shovels".  Why not the Hurricanes or Flames like the others? We pinned on our badges anyway, trepidation growing. The opening ceremonies commenced, with dancing and choreographed gymnastics.

Once in line, we realized that the name of this competition was the Funny Starts.  Well, if we were here to be laughed at, it was definitely in our best interest to play along.  We embarked on a series of goofy relay games--cross country skiing with foam skis and poles, pass the basketball between your legs, pillow fighting on a rail, and balloon tennis. I even got to take a turn at curling. We surmised the Russian words for 'hurry your @$$ up', but saw they all had a good laugh anyway when I wiped out on the 'ski course' (see photo!)

We ended up getting 2nd place overall (had to be rigged--it seemed we were last in most events). Our prize?  A pretzel and candy wreath for our Stolbeasts and a take home trophy for us.

It is true in every teaching context that students don't care what you know until they know that you care.  Apparently this teacher vs student competition is held every year, and it is evident it is part of the reason for the close knit student-teacher bond here.  And I appreciate that Funny Starts was put into our visit for the same express reason--that both sides could again see that what we have in common far exceeds what separates us.

No comments:

Post a Comment