English Explorers summer school ended Wednesday, June 21st. On that day we had a field trip to a nature area west of Chita and along the Ingoda River called Sukhotino. We were accompanied by Sergey Valentinovich, a naturalist and archeologist. He led us on a short walk down to the river faced by 50 ft cliffs, the remains of volcanoes from 250,000 million years ago, then up the cliffs and along the cliffs till they stopped and we returned to the lower area. The area is dotted with archeological sites revealing evidence of Neanderthal man, 200,000 years ago, and more recent prehistoric man, 40,000 years ago. The basalt cliffs made the area livable because of their inherent sharpness allowing easy creation of axes, knives and scrapers. Also they hunted by corralling prey toward the cliffs to fall to their death. That was the science and history part of the field trip.
Then a team from the rope park (see the post called “Catching a Cold“) came and everyone had a chance to try climbing a 20 foot cliff. Even I tried (just that I tried I consider a whopping success, but I didn’t make past the first, major challenge).
We picnicked in the shade of the willows on the riverbank on sandwiches and instant mashed potatoes with chives (actually very good!) and fruit. There were a number of games in English–my contribution was Red Rover Red Rover which also
exists in a Russian version–and Anna who runs the office, filled a small bucket and sprinkled all comers. It was a scorching 97 degrees that day!
Then we bused home for the presentation of Certificates and some awards–best Learning Diaries, best overall student for schoolwork, helpfulness, behavior, everything. The school set up a group texting spot on the texting app Viber and we posted photos and videos, even as they were happening, all through the 3 weeks. As this was the last day, parents really started send appreciative comments about the school, one even sent a poem. Being part of a “Child Development Center” and not a language school, the emphases were many–English, yes, but also working well with the group, handling relationship issues and disappointments, etc. The Director was not present until the last few days, when suddenly the behavioral issues, including paying attention, developing enthusiasm, acting together, not separate, dealing with cheating, etc, all became much more important. I am so impressed by her! She has a strong, loud and bossy style–with a sweetness that often bubbles up and breaks that surface. I don’t think anyone was afraid of her, and she seemed to be considered fair overall by the kids.