This summer, Russian-speaking students in Latvia volunteered to meet the NSLI-Y Russian language participants at the Pushkin Program in Daugavpils for five days a week after classes to teach them songs, a Latvian dance, art, and a play based on a Pushkin fairytale. They organized different sporting events, prepared a lecture on typical stereotypes held by Latvians and Russians, and demonstrated folk crafts. Toward the end of the NSLI-Y students’ six weeks, the volunteers set up an orienteering course, combined with a scavenger hunt. The NSLI-Y students repaid them by teaching a “Mafia” game that everyone played during their last weekend together. The Russian-speaking group also accompanied the NSLI-Y students on excursions, where they joined in cooking classes and tours of various sites and often helped clarify Russian for the Americans. The student volunteers joined the American group on one weekend getaway to the port town of Ventspils for its 750th anniversary. Students cooked together in the dorm and spent whole days strolling through concert grounds, the fair, the artisan products and local parks. Scroll down for pictures and videos of some of those lessons and excursions.
The students learn from Latvian band Brainstorm. The group is Latvian, but they write in Russian and English as well as Latvian. The NSLI-Y students sing a verse and the chorus in Russian on their last evening together.
A volunteer reviews the form and steps for the Latvian dance the NSLI-Y students will learn for the farewell dinner. She starts by telling the students not to rush through the steps.
NSLI-Y students perform a Latvian dance with the student volunteers at the farewell dinner.
The Latvian student volunteers gave a big “Спасибо” (thank you) to the Americans for being friendly, receptive, open, for having a sense of humor, and for trusting them with their time. Their words validated the claim that American NSLI-Y students abroad are true ambassadors.