International Russian Olympiada

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As our plane took off the runway at JFK, I started to get butterflies in my stomach. It had been a little over three weeks since American Councils sent me a confirmation that I would be representing the US in Mapryal’s International Olympiada of Spoken Russian, and the reality that, in nine short hours, I would be in Russia was just starting to hit me.

After a waiting to get through immigration at the airport in Moscow, we were ready to start exploring. An hour-long marshrutka, or share taxi, ride took us to our hotel in the southwestern district of the city.

Though the American delegation spent its first day sightseeing in Moscow’s historical center, the busy schedule brought us to the Pushkin Institute, an international college in the same neighborhood as our hotel, every day for different parts of the competition. We competed with students from over 30 countries, including Austria, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Spain, South Ossetia, and Lithuania. Mapryal, the organizer of the event, paired each delegation with a student volunteer from the institute. Our volunteer, Margarita, provided me with a very accessible lense to learn about Russian culture. Margarita, along with friends I made from all over Eastern Europe and Central Asia, only added to my experience as I got to know their cultures. Though there was somewhat of a language barrier, especially since many of the delegations were native Russian speakers, I feel that my fluency greatly improved.

I would like to thank my chaperone, Nataliya Ushakova, American Councils, the Pushkin Institute, Friends, and especially Ms. Roby for making this dream a reality for me.

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