Students Savor Unforgettable Summer 2011Trip

Nine MLWGS students (Reid Deckebach '12, Timmy Earley '12, Blake Foreman '12, Laura Merriman '11, Allison Ramage '12, Michelle Shuman '12, Cameron Tarry '14, Winston Wu '11 and Johnny Mac Yates '13) experienced an unforgettable "Slavic summer to remember" as they journeyed to Russia this summer for a three week trip led by MLWGS Russian teacher Michael White and MLWGS Alumna Susannah Powell '00.

The intrepid Green Dragons accepted unseasonable heat, protracted train trips, and "entire schools of fried fish", with grace and good humor as they trekked to St. Petersburg, the Golden Ring, Rostov-on-Don in the Black Sea region and Moscow.

The MLWGS travelers were dazzled by a cornucopia of famous Russian monuments, museums, cathedrals, cities and villages. Some highlights included: in St. Petersburg, the Peter-Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Catherine's Palace, the Hermitage Museum, and the Leningrad Museum; along the Golden Ring region, the cities of Vladimir, Suzdal, Yaroslavl; in Rostov-on-Don, the Cossack capital of Starocherkassk and the not to be forgotten Gorky Park, popularized in movies, novels and rock bands. In Moscow they toured Red Square, the Kremlin, the famous GUM department store, St. Basil's Cathedral, Alexander Gardens, and a host of famous cemeteries and decorated metro stations. 

Perhaps the most enriching aspect of the trip was the rare opportunity to bond with Russian students from the Nadezhda (Hope) Summer School for Gifted Students. Nearly sixty Rostovite teenagers joined the MLWGS travelers for most of the three week journey, making possible the forging of  genuine cross-cultural connections and friendships.

Several of the Russian students served as host brothers and sisters during the exciting home stay week of the trip that occurred in Rostov-on-Don. The Green Dragons, welcomed with warm and generous Russian hospitality by their home-stay families, were treated to the finest Slavic cuisine (think pancakes, shish-kebab, fresh produce, ice cream, and sausages) and were invited to share in mini arts and cultural classes in the local village school accompanied by their host siblings.

Beyond incredible lessons in Russian history, language, culture and architecture, the merry band of Green Dragons reveled in sheer fun, camaraderie and laughter with their Russian hosts. They joined enthusiastically in soccer and basketball "grudge matches," marathon games of Twister, and shared treats of ice cream, tarragon soda and black bread cider.

Surpassing sight-seeing, the Summer Slavic trip of 2011 left its MLWGS travelers touched and transformed by an unforgettable immersion in Slavic life and culture, enriched by profound appreciation for new friendships and lasting lessons learned across the Russian continent.

A note from Mr. White: Special thanks go to chaperon Susannah Powell, to the parents of the travelers, and to the MLWGS administration and the Regional School Board, all of whom made this trip possible with their support, hard work and enthusiasm. I look forward to leading another trip, in the summer of 2013.

For a full account of Mr. White's trip, click here.