If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.

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In spite of the snow… here we are!

The subject of the next non-Russian Russian speaking club will be “How you imagine your life in 10 years” (probably still a jobless volunteer in Ukraine!). Oh well, when I proposed such a topic I thought it would be very easier… but after a few minutes spent biting the tip of my pen and looking around searching for ideas I realized it was tougher than I imagined, especially when you have to think about your future plans in Russian. By the way, if you want to know, in the end I collected some ideas, and set up a good plan for my future… I’m ready for the next Russian speaking club!
As soon as I arrived in Ukraine, I understood that having studied Russian for 5 years in Italy was not enough to communicate, that knowing how to inflect cases and verbs was not enough to talk to people. And here in Ukraine, when it comes to communication problems, you immediately understand that you cannot count on Ukrainian people to try to speak English. As soon as they see you cannot speak their language they just turn their head or just say a lazy “нет английского”, usually with a grin which makes you feel a real idiot for not speaking Russian. At worst, especially when you try to speak to older people, they just shout at you or grumble something completely unintelligible. Also in the second case you will feel like an idiot!
So, “If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed”, where Mohammed is Ukraine and we (foreigners) are the mountain.


Well, during the very first weeks I got to know many other foreign volunteers, especially from the USA (the Peace Corps) and EVS volunteers working for other NGOs. When asking about their Russian I always got the same answer, which basically was a complaint: “it’s such a сложный язык, I’d better give up, I cannot understand it, I should talk more but people are not so willing to “пойти тебе навстречу” etc..
Hence, the idea of a Russian speaking club. I created a page on Facebook about this weekly event (кстати, we meet every Sunday at the Крупской библиотеке at 4 pm) and I also invited Ukranian people who showed interest in such an event, since many wanted to help us. The club has been going well since the beginning.. and actually Ukrainian attendants usually outnumber us. Sometimes (always!) we struggle to keep up with them!
Every week we chose a topic, but we don’t stick to it, it’s not mandatory. What we want is just for people to talk; the topic is just something you can arrange at home to feel more self confident, but honestly, we end up talking about everything but the chosen topic, especially arguing about the differences between our countries and Ukraine, for instance, the differences between homosexual relationships in Ukraine and our respective countries. The freedom to discuss allows us to express any idea which comes to mind in a very natural and friendly way. Indeed, we all became friends, so that usually the club doesn’t end at the library but just moves somewhere else – to a theater (we went to see a performance of Zoschenko’s stories all together, but honestly I understood not even half of it all), to a cafe’ (where we drink some beers – just to improve our Russian) or to a club where we can listen to some live Russian music.
So far, we have enjoyed this experience very much and I hope it will go on until the end of my stay in Donetsk, and beyond. We went to the mountain, hoping that one day the mountain would come closer to us. I think we’re getting closer to this goal.

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About actyveua

We are group of 11 EVS volunteers

Posted on March 23, 2013, in Francesca Leonardi, Russian Speaking Club and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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