NSLI-Y AFS Russia students had the opportunity to connect with Russia’s future during two-days at “Camp Loosh,” which roughly translates to “betterment.” Students used their language skills to connect with younger children through song, dance, and games. Many of the younger Russians had never met Americans before; NSLI-Y participants therefore had the opportunity to leave a lasting and positive impression of the United States.
“These kids are so excited to see us. They were shoving food, gifts, bracelets into my hands and some of them (Маша, кола, Сергей и Елен) wouldn’t let go of my hand [when we left],” said participant Glorya.
Participant Lilia composed a thoughtful reflection on her time with the students below:
“My ability to recognize, understand, read, and write in Russian has greatly improved, and I have found myself becoming more comfortable with conversation. We got a lot of practice speaking while at Camp Loosh, which we visited twice this week. I was very pleasantly surprised at the amount of Russian I could understand and use while playing games and singing songs, and just talking with the kids. The atmosphere at Camp was just so incredibly welcoming and happy, and the excitement and enjoyment that the campers shared was completely infectious! I couldn’t help but laugh and smile throughout the entire day; I don’t think I have been hugged as many times or held as many tiny hands as I did this Sunday and last.
Although admittedly there were a few language difficulties, we chatted, played games, and ate massive amounts of strange sweets together, and communicated well. They were eager to talk with me, learn about where I came from, and were not shy about correcting my Russian and teaching me new things. I even had a run in with a group of little boys who seemed delighted to share their, shall we say, interesting English vocabulary that they’ve learned from American music…All in all, I look back on my time spent at Camp Loosh and can really say that I loved every minute of it – learning songs, playing games, sitting on Cabin floors being shoveled copious amounts of chocolates, and even being mistaken for a camper five times in one day…although intimidating and overwhelming at first, going to Camp Loosh really let me dive into using Russian language, and opened up a window into what it is like to grow up in Kirov. From singing camp songs to reciting poems on the camp stage, it was a wonderful and fun experience from which I gained so much.”