Guest Blogger: Alexander “Саша” Belyi
Role at Camp: Business Manager and Song Leader
Education: Graduate of University of Chicago
Favorite Russian Song: “Кровь за кровь” группы “Ария”
Favorite Food: шашлык
Favorite Aspect of Lesnoe ozero: I get to expand my boundaries and horizons!
1ое сентября, the 1st of September is a memorable day for every Russian student. “Первый раз в первый класс” my parents told me when I was 7 years old and walked me to our neighborhood school. I was wearing blue trousers, white shirt with pink cuffs and a blue jacket. I had a green square back pack on my back and a bouquet of flowers for my first grade teacher who I was going to meet for the first time.
At 8am, right in front of the school building, everyone lined up by grades in линейка. The first bell (первый звонок) was sounded, to signify the beginning of a new school year. It was an actual bell, held by a first-grade girl who was carried by a 11th grade boy – a connection of generations. Then, my first grade teacher took twenty of us little learners into our home classroom.
Every year millions of students in Russia and former Soviet Union republics start school on September 1st. Traditionally, September 1st does not only mark the beginning of a school year, but it has also become teacher appreciation day. Students of all ages bring flowers to their teachers. Sometimes graduates come back to their old schools to say hello to former teachers and to see the new generation begin on the path that they themselves left only recently.
In Russia children go to school in much smaller groups than in the US . All the neighborhood kids are divided into 2 or 3 groups of 20-30 students and enter the first grade together. Usually they stay with the same group throughout the 12 years of elementary and secondary education. Many friendships formed during these twelve years linger for the rest of their lives.
So, September 1st, then, is also a reminder to school friends of how they started and a chance to reconnect with old classmates and reaffirm the relationships that they have formed 5-10 years ago.
Every September since 1994 was full of excitement to go back to school, to start learning again after a 3-month hiatus, to reconnect with friends and classmates, and to write an essay on the topic of “как я провел лето” (how I spent my summer).