So after some deliberation, I've decided to share my story. Which, quite possibly, is my most embarrassing moment. I'm taking it in full stride though, and moving on with life. Here we go. Prepare yourselves...
As I have mentioned, I teach an elementary class of about 8 boys, ages 11-12. They are great kids and I love teaching them, even when they do have their crazy moments. Our last language arts unit was on a story about the first man to reach the North Pole. We had spent two days already reading and discussing the dangers this man and his crew might face, and we were nearing the point of the story where they finally would reach their destination. Now in my teacher's manual, one of the teaching aids suggests that you make clear to your students that the North Pole is only a place, not an actual candy-striped pole that Henson was going to bring back as a souvenier. In the middle of my class reading then, I stopped them to point this out and make sure that they understood this fact. As I started explaining to them, it dawned on me that I should draw a picture of "the classic North Pole" on the board to really drive home the point. So I set down my book and continued talking as I walked over to the board and picked up some chalk and began to draw. Now please, imagine to yourself the North Pole. It's tall, it's white, it's got lovely candy-colored stripes all over it, and a shiny, golden ball on top. Correct? I did my best to display this through my art, but as soon as I had finished, before I had even turned around, I heard my class erupt in fits of laughter. I didn't even have to turn around before I realized what I had just done. While trying to be such an excellent teacher to my students, it did not even cross my mind, that this pole, standing tall on the board, would only register as one thing to these pre-pubescent boys: Penis.
WHAT HAD I DONE?
I was so embarrassed! I walked over to my book, picked it up and tried to continue teaching as best I could, but the damage had been done and the boys were losing control of themselves. Even my co-teacher, a 24 year old man, was in the corner dying of the giggles. Fortunately he was able to compose himself enough to rush to the board and erase my drawing, and within a minute I had my class back on track. I am fairly certain though that my face has never been that red in my entire life. I will, for the rest of these boys' lives, be the American English teacher who drew a phallic symbol on the chalk board. What a title to have achieved.
Moving on now, and following up on the ballet! It was absolutely amazing! Our seats were up close to the stage, on the third balcony, providing an excellent view of the performers, and the orchestra below. (Side Note: I will forever stand by my opinion that the sound of an orchestra tuning their instruments is one of the most beautiful sounds in this world). The performance was phenomenal though, the last time I saw a ballet was the 8th grade, and I don't think I quite appreciated the art then. This time, with all the ambiance and excitement, the experience was a million times more enjoyable. I kept thinking of my awesome cousin who does ballet and how I hope she'll be in a performance like this someday that i can come see!
This weekend, it finally hit me that Fall is coming... with the reminder that Winter is never far behind. On Friday, when we were done with teaching, we went to a beautiful park out in Staraya Derevnaya, which is a more posh area of St. Petersburg, also where the kindergarten is located that I teach in. The park was lovely though; so full of vibrant colors that I could not put my camera down for more than a few seconds it seemed. St. Pete's doesn't have any mountains, but they do Autumn just fine here.
This conclusion was further enforced when we went Petergoff the following day. Petergoff is the palace and surrounding park of Peter the Great, who founded St. Petersburg. Peter loved the water, so he placed his palace on the Gulf of Finland and filled the park with 115 water fountains, which in my opinion, were more beautiful and inspiring than any fountain I saw in Rome. (sorry Italy!) It took us a good 3 hours or so to walk around the park, and I'm certain I could have stayed for hours more. Again I was blown away by the bombardment of Fall colors and the leaves everywhere you looked. With the background of the sea, and the foreground of stellar palaces, I was catching my breath the whole time. Maybe this seems juvenile, but one of the most exciting things about yesterday, was something I learned from our cultural coordinator: Sveta. Everyone in the park was gathering leaves so we began to do the same. Sveta then grabbed some of the leaves and began weaving them into a crown. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen and I can't wait to try and make one! I'll post a picture when I do. I asked her how she learned this and she motioned she'd learned when she was young and just always knew. Somehow I feel I've been gipped of a real Autumn by not having this skill all my life. Good thing I've learned now!
This Sunday was great. I'm blown away that every week when I walk into the church building I feel a physical difference in my heart and I know that's where I need to be. It's absolutely amazing.
We've also started planning our vacation for the first week of November. We will be going to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden and I can't wait! Everything is going swimmingly :)