Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Travel Log: Day Eight

Vladimir, Russia 5/23/2016

I didn't take many
pictures today, so here
is the painting Lera did
by the elevator on our
floor; below are some
misc pictures of
                     Day two of volunteering! Today, after a lecture on Russian youth, we worked at a veteran's home. It was a wonderful time; first, we cleaned a couple women's apartments, a couple of babushkas  that spoke no English and had a hard time moving around. We dusted everywhere and mopped, and the first woman, an adorable old lady who was half my size and started giving out hugs as soon as we finished, teary-eyed because of how thankful she was.  She didn't seem to understand that we couldn't speak English, as she just kept babbling to us in Russian; we let her talk, and she seemed touched by the care and attention. It was a fulfilling task in itself, and then I had my concert.
                      As soon as Alexei, the program coordinator from the Russian side, discovered what I study, he started setting up various little concerts for me to sing at. This is the first that I've been 'hired' for: a little half-hour performance for the residents of the home. I downloaded some music onto my tablet and, sitting at a recently-tuned-for-the-occasion upright piano, I sang some of my rep from the last year and plunked out an incredibly simplified accompaniment. About ten to fifteen residents, a few of the students from the university, and my group all sat and listened while I went through some Heggie, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff. It was a great exercise in singing as communication, as not only did these people not understand many of the languages I sing, they didn't understand much English either. Still, they seemed to enjoy it immensely, asking for an encore (an offer I had to refuse as I only downloaded so much), and a particular highlight was one woman singing along to 'Memory,' from Cats (one of the two musical theatre songs I have memorized on the piano). I befriended her after that, and we sat by each other during the Russian Doll-making master class we went to right after. It was a wonderful opportunity, and Alexei promptly asked me to sing more for the folks at the American Home next Thursday. Also, the students told me my pronunciation on the Rachmaninoff stuff as 'not bad.'  
                         After volunteering we had the master class (we made these cute little traditional dolls, I rediscovered how bad I am at sewing) and a couple of us went shopping with some of the university students (black faux-leather jackets are all the rage here apparently, and I had an intense need; I got a really cute one at a store called Zara, it was my first splurge here) and then home. Another wonderful day.

Fun Moment of the Day: After I got home, Polly wanted to curl my hair, which was cute. I sat at her desk and she curled my hair while we both watched Jane the Virgin on Netflix (in Russian, with English subtitles). Great non-verbal bonding time. 

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