Our English-speaking school is situated in Siberia, Russia. There are more than a hundred different nationalities living in the area, all of them coexist peacefully. The state language is Russian, and at school we begin learning English in the second grade. We learn a lot about the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries while we are at school.
There is an important event in the school life which teaches us a lot about the world we live in. Every other year there is a School Festival. In January every class chooses a country which it wishes to represent. Then we begin thinking, together with our teachers, of how to do it. Any class can prepare a concert, a variety show or a self-composed play. The jury then decides which show was the best and awards a Grand Prix, plus several smaller awards, like "The Star of the Festival", "The Best Song" and so on. Each class also makes a huge paper with pictures, poems and articles.
Last spring, our seventh grade had chosen Italy, and our fifth grade had taken Japan as their countries. We made our own costumes and practiced at home. As an Italian girl at a carnival, I sang an Italian song and danced. It was difficult to remember the words, but we all tried our best. In another scene, I was a Roman lady, so I had to practice walking in a long skirt. My friends had recited some poems in Italian, sang songs, even cooked Italian dishes, like pizza. My mother loaned some costume jewelry to me and two of my friends, and we felt very beautiful. with all those sparkling things on our necks.
And I, Irina, was Japanese. We performed a story about three brave brothers who had to fight a dragon to make their land beautiful. Many parents helped us with the costumes and at rehearsals. Our head teacher dressed up as a dragon, and all the boys helped "kill" him and drag him away at the end. We all learned some songs in Japanese, even though it was very difficult. We also painted our faces and made hairdos with a lot of long pins to look like the Japanese people in the pictures we saw.
That week in April, we felt a little strange, walking around at school dressed up in our costumes. Every class was different, there were Indians, Brazilians, Persians, French and English people all around us. We wrote poems about the countries that we represented, made huge drawings of various places and colored maps of the country in question. For a week, we felt that we were somebody else, and we honestly tried to understand some very strange cultures, customs and traditions. We believe this is a good way of teaching and learning tolerance to other nations at school. We have got many beautiful photos and a video of our performances to remind us about those lovely days.
By Evgenia and Irina Koptyug, 1998
26th Festaval, 1998
5nd Festival, 1969
2nd Festival, 1965