Ural State University of Railway Transport
USURT

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  15 to 31 July 1998, in cooperation with Service Civil International (SCI) and the charity organization "Fathers and Children".

    The total number of participants - 47, including:

  • 3 volunteers from the USA
  • 3 volunteers from Germany
  • 2 volunteers from Switzerland
  • 1 volunteer from the UK
  • 1 volunteer from France
  • 2 instructors from USURT
  • 35 students from Ural Universities and High Schools

    Camp motto: Peace, Love and Mutual Understanding!

    Camp specificity: Social-educational

    Languages used: Russian, English, German

    Camp goals:

  • to get and to develop communication skills with foreigners in informal atmosphere;
  • to realize intercultural exchange and to get information about different countries, politics and social systems;
  • to prepare audio textbooks in German for the Foreign Languages Department.
What our participants answer:


    Jennifer Arias (Chicago, the USA): I think the camp was really successful. I can't point out just very one thing that I remember most of all. But what I can never forget is Russian hospitality, disinterestedness and kindness of our hosts. This friendly and hearty welcome means a lot to me. Before this visit I knew nothing at all about Russian culture, and now I'm taking away great impressions.

    One more thing: Russian women are so beautiful! Big eyes, beautiful figures, perfect skin! Oh, men are also handsome!!! Russian students are more polite and respectful than American students. What else? PIES and BEER.

    Claudio Cederna (Switzerland): Our camp included a lot of teaching English and German. The exchange of cultural and youth social knowledge worked great. A lot of new friendships were build during these 2 weeks. Our teaching included games, describing, comparing, speaking, and writing information about countries, use of English and acting. One of the results is that most of the students became more comfortable to speak in foreign language. Another was they could experience how people from different countries think, life, speak and what they hope for. I think that quite a lot of the students improved their knowledge in using another language either in speaking or in writing. I think our wonderful camp became successful. I wish all of you good luck for the next camp.

    Carole Wahnoun (France): This camp was a really great human experience. I gave knowledge about France, English lessons to people and in the same time I received from them about their culture and their ways of thinking. I was the only French girl here; it was very nice to be with so many different people in the same time. Sometimes, it could have been tiring to stay always in a group but I shared very precious moments on lessons, banja, swimming, walks, games... Everybody was cheerful, helpful and very open-minded. Moreover, I learned a lot about myself thank to the others.

    I think that such a camp made me improved and I feel lucky to have taken part in. I truly liked the time I spent here and thank you for everything.

    Sandra Leuteriz (Dresden, Germany), Sandra Jancov (Munster, Germany): In total we taught German 10 days 2,5 hours per day. Our students were inconstant, communicative, curious, disciplined and eager to cooperation. It was a great pleasure for us to share with them our knowledge of German and to tell them some facts about Germany. Our hard preparing for lessons surprisingly was successful.

    Because of deficient knowledge of German (...of students. Translator) we tried to touch only easy, usual topics. For example, we discussed Russian and German young people, their style of life, habits, fashion, music, so on. We also talked about the environmental protection in Germany, we spoke about our native cities using illustrations and we compared Russian and German fairy tales.

    We used different methods of teaching, like listening (music, video), individual text work (monologues, dialogues), we improved writing and grammar with the help of games and exercises. Teaching was a new activity for us; and we'll try not to lose this valuable experience.

    Federico Patini (Italy): Arriving in Ekaterinburg on the 16th July after 30 hours on a train and being met at the railway station, felt like coming home after a long period away. I had chosen to do this work camp for various reasons: I wanted to see what life was like in a real Russia city, one outside St. Petersburg and Moscow, the fact that this city was in the Urals and even in Asia made this all the more exciting. I was keen to meet young Russian people and to learn about their views on life, after just 2 weeks here I feel as if I have learnt something about the Russia way of life, despite coming from a different background. Also, because I have been studying the Russian language for nearly 2 years, I felt like I was more capable of communicating with the people in the camp.

    The warmth of the students and their extremely keen interest in the volunteers was and still is a very pleasant surprise, I had heard of (and experienced already) the generosity and hospitality of Russian people, and once again in Ekaterinburg their warmth and politeness was extremely evident.
    The excursions that were planed were in my view, a success. The visits to Devil's town, to Mount Volchikha and the Europe-Asia border were very enjoyable. Nevertheless, the excursion that stands out in my mind is our visit to the cave in Kungur. Despite the discomfort of the 5-hour journey on the blue bus to reach the cave, when we arrived I was very pleased that I was there. The cave provided a refreshing change in temperature as well as a lot of humor among the volunteers. It was very beautiful and worth visiting. Our trip to mount Volchikha was, as I have already mentioned, very enjoyable, picking berries in the forest made me experience a very small part of the Russian way of life, however the amount of litter and rubbish scattered around the forest was disturbing, to say the least.

    I like the city center very much, our frequent trips there in order to buy Russian music and souvenirs, most of them successful, stand out in my mind. Crossing Glavniy Prospekt on foot reminded me of being back in Rome. When it comes to driving a car, I think Italians and Russians are very similar. When we first took the metro at Uralskaya station, I was shocked. It was so clean; it was sparkling, and amazing contrast to the dusty roads outside.

    I would now like to mention some possible suggestions for next year work camp. I think it would have been beneficial dividing the students according to their language level prior to the start of the camp. The first few days were hectic and the volunteers were not completely sure of who should be in which group. Nevertheless, I am very impressed by the level of English that some students have already reached. In addition, I felt that it was important that the volunteers had more free time to themselves, especially during the first few days. We had very little time to discuss the groups of students and the program for the classes the following day. However the SCI Urals office was almost open to our suggestions and supported everything we wanted to do. Thank you.

    In conclusion, I want to mention that in my view this work camp was a great success. I feel that I have learnt something about the Russians, just as they have learnt something about me. Two weeks is a short period of time, but they have been 2 very interesting weeks, the camp was a cultural exchange, which I would be very keen to do again. I got on very well, very quickly, with all the volunteers and even though I have only known them just a few days, I have never laughed as much as I have during this work camp. I have found many new friends, among the volunteers and among the Russian students and I want to keep in touch in the future. Once again, I want to mention the hospitality, friendliness, politeness and generosity of the people I have met here. I am very glad to have spent these 2 weeks in Ekaterinburg and I will take back home with me, many extremely fond memories, hoping to return here somewhere in the near future.

    All the best for next year work camp. Thank you for everything.

    Daniela Beenen (Wiesbaden, Germany): Personally for me this camp was successful. I came to Russia because of two reasons: first, to know better the country, its traditions, people and everyday life; second, to share my knowledge of English and German and my international work experience, that I've got after traveling and studying abroad.

    I understood and estimated Russian culture, for example, hospitality, feasts, dacha, banya, Russian history, women's care about appearance, love to Russia, to its art and literature:

    Russia as a country and a region revealed me its beauty during our numerous excursions (to the Devil's town, to Kungur cave, to mountain Volchikha and, of course, in Ekaterinburg). It's incredible how many buildings are being repaired and being renewed at the same time. I'm sure the city will be glorious on its 275 anniversary. It's a pity; I'll not be there.

    Ekaterinburg attracted me because it's situated on the Asian continent. I expected to see the Asian influence. But I realized that Russia is Russia, no matter if it's a European or Asian continent. The originality of Russia was bigger than I expected. I'd say that Russia is a special continent, somewhere between Europe and Asia.

    As for Russian landscape and nature, I'd like to add that I was glad to find out careful attention to nature: natural beauty is not spoilt by streets or other features of technical progress:Unfortunately, not everywhere. I didn't like garbage in the forest, exhausts in the air and chemicals in the water. It's a plenty of work. And ecological camps cannot only scavenge forests, but they can organize propaganda actions for resource savings and against garbage burning and water pollution.

    I achieved my second aim that was to share experience. I had a one-to-one conversation with every Russian student and taught German practically to everyone. I regarded as a personal duty to raise culture understanding. I think I managed to do this, in spite of the fact that we weren't able to organize an international culture game. I think students could feel that culture wasn't only theatre and literature: and that you should behave very carefully abroad, because you don't know and you can't understand the basic values. Hope, that I was quite cautious and I wasn't a burden to anyone.

    For me this cam was completely successful. But I want to point out two things. I'd prefer organizing something like an "introduction meeting" at the beginning of the camp - in the first day only volunteers and camp leader participate. The aim is to formulate expectations and conceptions, after that to make together a camp program. The program that was offered by SCI Urals was very ambitious: even volunteers needed time to rest. You can't underestimate students' self-study when they prepare for lessons and make their homework (translation, perception, writing reports:) However I think we worked well together on the program correction. SCI Urals leaders eagerly accepted all changes and offers. I think this "introduction meeting" is so important because you can discuss all rules, conditions and regulations.

    I enjoyed the camp because I found many new friends there. We were three German girls and we had never met before. But definitely now we'll meet each other many times. I hope that someday I'll meet other camp participants. During these 15 days I laughed so much as I've never done before. Unity and solidarity of all group was (and is!) something incredible! I start loving Russia, and I'll come back soon. See you again!

    Natalia (Ekaterinburg, Russia): I enjoyed the camp more than I expected. I liked most of all our visit to the Devil's town. I've never been there before. The view from the mountaintop was fantastic and our trip in a jolty bus was funny. And I've learned so many things from our teachers. They are all kind and ordinary people. I hope they think the same about us. I'd like to think that their stay was not spoilt by heat, but on the contrary it was enjoyable.

    I understood that there was no difference from what country you were, we all had common interests, the same problems, and our differences depended only on our characters. I'd like that all students have the same level of English, because some of us speak fluently and the rest are shy, because they can't say a word. Probably, the camp program was very intense. I suppose our guests would like to see the city, and we didn't give them very much time for relax.

    I'd like to participate in similar camp once again!

    Vera (Ekaterinburg, Russia): Why was I in this camp? When I had read an advertisement, I said: "That would be interesting and I want to be there".

    The first day we met only organizers and Russian students. The next day our volunteers arrived. Our lessons were very interesting. We played, spoke and wrote. We felt that all our words were interesting for our "teachers". But I can't say that they were real teachers, they were more like older friends. They taught us, and we taught them.

    We had many interesting excursions. We visited many places where I had never been before. Volunteers came from different countries and understood German and French, especially when we sang songs. It's a pity that we can't be together any longer. I think if we didn't have so many Russian students, I'd feel myself more comfortable. All students wanted to chat with our guests.

    But in general, everything was fine and we found many friends there. May be, we'll continue communication via e-mail. I want to become a volunteer. Really, it's so sad that the camp is over. I want to meet you all again! I even don't want to say goodbye, because I hardly need to see you again!

    Marina (Ekaterinburg, Russia): First of all, I'd like to say that meeting people from other countries is very interesting. And it's cool to talk to them. I've learned many interesting facts about Italy, France, the USA and even about Russia from my new friends.

    I live in Ekaterinburg, but I've never been to the Devil's town and Kungur Cave. And it was exciting. Thanks to the camp I've decided to study English language more seriously. And may be in future, I'll study French and German.

    I enjoyed our lessons very much, especially when we played many funny games. It was great. But I think it'd be better for volunteers and Russian participants, if the camp organization were better. But I don't want to say goodbye. I wish to meet you all, that's why I'll say, "See you!"

    Natasha Zudina (Ekaterinburg, Russia): This summer I was in the camp organized by our International Department. It was a wonderful time. 10 volunteers came to our university. The camp was 2 weeks. I was one of the first who met volunteers. I think they could hardly imagine how they would be tired of us. But I hope at the end they were happy.

    This camp was successful. We've learnt many interesting things about our culture, manners, and traditions. I liked that our teachers changed a lot, because we had a chance to talk to everyone of volunteers. But the most exciting events were after lessons. Every day there were excursions to museums, theatres, to the city center. I remember our long trip to Kungur Cave and to Devil's town. We even climbed on one of the highest Ural mountains - Volchikha. Everyone made a picture on the Europe-Asia Boarder. It was great! We visited also real Russian banya. Nobody from our foreign friends had been before in banya. I guess, they were glad. It was their first experience and they've got health supply for the rest of their life. So, everything was ok in our camp.

    Peace, Love and Mutual Understanding forever!