Zoobi! Spokoyni nochi!
As a (very rusty) Russian speaker, we were keen to host a child from Belarus, to give them a chance to improve their health and their English, to give our children (two girls aged 6 and 3) a
chance to understand that not everyone has the same opportunities that they do, and to give me a chance to make use of my Russian degree in a constructive way!
Yulia’s arrival was met with much excitement by the girls. Within 15 minutes, when we watched her turn 360 degrees in wonder in Larissa’s bedroom, taking in all the toys and clothes, it was clear that Larissa got the message that not all children have the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ that she has.
Yulia settled in quickly and ate well – I overheard her telling her Belarusian friend one day at dinner that “it may not look like it does at home, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty – so try it!” On my part, I think I underestimated the difference having an extra child in the house would make – an extra person to wash for, organise, worry about, clean up after, etc. - and all on top of us both working pretty much full time. But it was worth it to see Yulia enjoy all the new experiences and to watch her shoot up in height during the month she was here. She is an enthusiastic girl, full of energy (her favourite activity while she was here was attending Larissa’s badminton lessons) and very good with younger children.
We tried to help improve Yulia’s English, but she was quite comfortable speaking to me in Russian – this made it challenging for the rest of the family, although children do always seem to be able to communicate well with each other, whatever their language! So our main objective this year is to help her with her English a bit more – especially as by the end of Yulia’s four week stay in October 2013, even our three-year-old knew how to say ‘teeth! night night!’ in Russian - less Russian, more English in 2014!
Larissa is already counting the weeks until Yulia returns and we already have lots planned – including camping! We found the experience exhausting but incredibly fulfilling – and at the forefront of our minds is the difference we can make to Yulia’s life, health and prospects.