Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Okay so there wasn't really a fire. It was just a fire drill. But it was a new cultural experience for me and I thought y'all might get a good laugh out of it. This was my first fire drill to be part of this year. I guess the others were not while I was here or something. I'm not sure.

Well I was not in a lesson when this happened. I should have been though. I should have met with my native student Alex. We meet just the two of us 4 times a week. Well like many of our students, since we have 2 days off this week, he is out of town. So I was in my office cutting out papers like any good elementary teacher would be doing.

All the sudden I hear this God awful noise and the alarm is only about 30 feet from my office door. I was jammin' to my i pod while working so I turned it off and headed outside. Well like all good children, the middle and high schoolers were running out of the building. ( I think I have told many of you already that there is really not much of a sense of order around here. So unlike the single filed quite lines that we have back in the States we have mass chaos.) I'm walking nicely while teenagers run like chickens with their heads cut off all around me. I'm not really sure where I am supposed to go so I just follow the crowds. No one else but the teens seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

Thankfully it was such a beautiful day outside. So I really didn't mind having to spend some time out there. I am finally outside and looking around at all the children when I notice something weird. PreK and Kindergarten are not out here. I'm thinking surely they heard the same thing that I did. I wonder where they could be.

About 10 minutes later, here come PreK and Kindergarten strolling out. I see Jamie with Kindergarten and I ask her what took them so long. Well she told me that they had to change into their outdoor clothes!!! For a fire drill!!!

My thoughts are FIRE EVERYBODY OUT! No not the Russians. Their thoughts are FIRE LETS CHANGE CLOTHES!!! Obviously you can all tell that I am a silly American here. I assumed that like in America it is pretty much engraved in our brains from birth that if there is a fire you drop everything and get outside away from everything! Well obviously that is not the case. Here even though it is in the upper 70's! we still need to change, put a coat, scarf, hat, and outdoor shoes on! Not to mention changing out of a uniform into outdoor shirts and pants too!!

I decided that if there is a real fire while I am teaching, I am going to grab some kids kicking and screaming AND WE ARE RUNNING OUT THE DOOR TO SAFETY!!! HELLO!!! COMMON SENSE PEOPLE!!!

So let me just give everyone a little Russian cultural lesson that I have since learned this year. Russian children, though they may not bathe regularly, wear a ton of clothes!! First you come to school in an outfit. This outfit no matter what the weather will consist of an undershirt (girls and boys), cotton tights (girls and boys to the age of about 9-10), pants, shirt, jacket/ coat, shoes. Then they will come inside and change the outer layer into a school uniform. From there we also have separate clothes to play outside in. I know what you're thinking, and NO, they are not the same clothes they came to school in. It is another outfit. We have to change back into the school uniform to come back inside and go to lunch. Now if you are in PreK or Kindergarten then you also have a set of pajamas at school for nap time. (They do keep the same PJ's all week.) There is also a separate outfit for PE, dance, and swimming (all of which 90% of children participate in). So by now I have lost count as to how many outfits we wear in one day!! Talk about some laundry! And this cracks me up too, their outdoor and PE clothes are definitely Dolche and Gabanna, Coach, Armani, etc. So they aren't even real play clothes!!

So I hope you now feel educated about the Russian culture. This is one of the things that really makes me laugh. And it is so important for them too! Different sides of the world!!!

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