Day Ten: Climbing to the top, Soviet Era Crash Course and the Ballet 

I’m just about packed and I don’t think I could bring any more of Russia back home with me if I tried. My heart is full of love from all of the amazing, thoughtful and inspiring women I have spent time with during my time in Moscow and St Petersburg. My eyes are not full with sadness but with hope. Our work together has just begun and I can’t wait until we meet again. For many it will start with What’s Ap tomorrow from the airport and Facebook and Instagram.

Today was a typical St Petersburg day full of light rain, sun and wind. Ruslana and I met up with Sersha, my other Russian sister who is a super mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters with a heart of gold, like all of the BBBS staff in Moscow and St. Petersburg . I gave Sersha the most random list of things I wanted to see and a few things I needed to buy. She nailed it, putting her own spin on it as well.
First we went to St Isaac’s Cathedral. St. Isaac’s Cathedral was originally the city’s main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac’s still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg.
We rocked some major “Girl Power” and climbed to the top, even though it was drizzling and a little foggy it was worth it! Glad I got that cortisone shot before I left, it has been so nice to finally get back to an active lifestyle climbing through Russian Cathedrals.

Next we went to a famous Soviet donut shop and Sersha shared with me what it was like to grow up in Soviet times as a young girl. The two of us are about the same age and her stories put many things into perspective for me. The donuts were made with a few ingredients and she spoke about some of the dishes her family made with the lack of available food. For example, butter was something that was a luxury in her home. She also bought Ruslana and I lollipops that were made from one ingredient, sugar. The napkins were Soviet style as well, very thin pieces of cut paper. Driving around we saw more love taking place..

We made a stop for some special gifts before dropping off Ruslana at the train station. Next we headed to the grocery store to get some sweets for the presentations I will give at the end of the week to MCA mentors, mentees and hopefully some other NGO’s.

Then we met Lena and Masha from Big Brother Big Sisters St Pete at a Soviet style restaurant. These restaurants are becoming trendy because people between the ages of 30-40 are becoming nostalgic about their childhood. During our lunch we talked about measurement. This office is four years old and they are having a difficult time quantifying how well they are doing to engage donors. Across the board this is difficult because sometimes the results of mentorship is not seen until years after the match has ended and the mentee has matured. I spoke about collaborating with other European Mentoring organizations that I know as well as testimonial stories of matches. We also discussed some strategies for their website and Facebook page.

Time got away from us from all of our discussions and Sersha nearly

had to throw me out of the car for me to make the ballet. Swan lake was beautiful, seeing a Russian ballet was something I always dreamed about and tonight it happened. As a girl I played the Nutcracker while doing my, for six years I tended bar at the Boston Opera House- home of the Boston Ballet and every year I take my nieces to see the Philadelphia Nutcracker. It was great. Loved comparing the venue etiquette in Russia vs America. I didn’t receive a play bill, everyone checks their coat.Ushers weren’t really up in the “cheaper seats” this time I couldn’t act Russian I needed to find my exact seat and the curtain was about to go up! Costumes were elaborate, people clapped before the curtain went up, they cheered and shouted “bravo” at the end of scenes. There were plenty of beautiful rooms to walk around during intermission. The bartenders didn’t just make drinks they served cake and sandwiches. No matter what might have seen different, one constant that remains the same coast to coat is that there never are enough bathrooms for the ladies. I know you can’t see  much but this is my favorite present  from the trip.. music ..

Feeling very satisfied I called Sersha and we made our last mission happen. We had some Uzbek for dinner, she helped me find a few ingredients for the borscht I will make for cultural night and lastly … I don’t know how it happened but we saw Russian Firetrucks. Apparently this is a rare thing! There are still many impressions I need to write about but I need to go to bed.

4 thoughts on “Day Ten: Climbing to the top, Soviet Era Crash Course and the Ballet 

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