An ever- growing sideline to my CrossRoads ministry work here in Samara is my desirability as a native speaker of English. Learning to speak English well is a goal of many young Russian students and professionals. The courses offered in grade schools and universities get them going, but most who are serious about learning English seek out the help of private tutors. Three of my close friends do this work, and it’s always my pleasure to participate in the lessons. The students are sometimes nervous about my presence (at least the first time), but then they come to see that I am there to help them improve.
Yesterday I worked along side one of Samara’s most sought-after tutors of English, my friend, Nina Alexandrovna. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. we had lessons with Dasha, Donna, Veeka, Ostya (via Skype), and Tanya. These young women work in the medical and legal fields, except Veeka who is still a university student and also an English tutor now.In addition to the lesson materials they prepared, we enjoyed casual conversation.
The most intriguing comment came from young Dasha (aged 23) who, when we began discussing the motto of the Young Pioneers (the Soviet-era youth organization) she said, “Who are these Pioneers you are speaking about? I don’t know anything about them. I was born in a different country.”
Imagine my surprise. Perhaps my still-in-progress novel audience will extend to Russians after all — the ones soon to hold their country’s future in their capable hands. (But who do not know from whence they have come.) So far, many of these bright young people have clamored for a copy of my book. Another case of “expect the unexpected” here in my beloved Samara.
And the next time you see me, remind me to tell you the parable about “The Man and His Goat.”