AIESEC’s campaign for the exchange peak last April was Best Summer Ever and it didn’t fail to deliver.
I almost got matched to another country for exchange, but I put off saying yes to them because I waited on the LC of Moscow to reply to my request for an interview. Russia had always been my dream and it finally felt like that dream was so close, so I really went all out in trying to make that dream into a reality. So, a few days before my 21st birthday, I flew out of Manila and went on my way to Moscow. It was a fairly long trip, but it didn’t really feel that way because I was just too excited. When I arrived in Moscow, I could barely believe it.
I had applied for Project YANA (You Are Not Alone) which was a project geared towards playing with and teaching children with no parents. For a few hours each day, my co-interns and I would interact and teach kids. I had underestimated the challenge of teaching children who speak a language different from mine. My co-interns and I had to constantly think of ways we could catch and keep the kids’ attention and be able to teach them even though there was a language barrier. We taught them games from our countries and we surprisingly found out that save some variations, kids from around the world play the same games. Ice water, langit lupa – I thought these were Filipino games but apparently, not! Besides my work at Project YANA, I was able to take on another project on the side for the LC in Moscow. Along with 2 other interns, I worked at Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics (MESI). We taught a course in business English and international management. Unlike the children in the orphanage, our students at the university had basic to intermediate knowledge of English, so the language barrier was a bit lowered, although it was still pretty challenging. More importantly than me being able to teach kids and students, was them being able to teach me. They taught me to be patient, understanding and creative.
Some other highlights of my trip were:
- Making friends from different countries! I now have homes to sleep in if ever I’d travel to Argentina, Colombia, Pakistan, India, Thailand and Brazil.
- Going to St. Petersburg! St. Petersburg was just so crazy beautiful. We were also able to visit the Hermitage (they have the largest painting collection in the world).
- Museum night in Moscow – free entrances to all the museums! It’s so crazy (wonderful) how they have over 200 museums and galleries in the city.
- Spending 5 days with my co-interns in a cultural park called Etno-Mir. We taught dance and crafts from our home countries and we also learned about Russian culture.
I did a million more things in Russia, but it’s so difficult for me to put my experiences into words. There would be no justice in them. All I can say right now is that my experience in Russia was better than I had ever dreamed since nothing will ever compare to actually being there. Being so far away from home made me feel like the world was so small and so big at the same time.