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Claire Daly

Internal News - 16 January 2006

Blogging student wins competition

A Modern Languages & European Studies student on her year abroad in Russia has won a competition for writing a blog.

Claire Daly is currently on her year abroad working in an orphanage in Samara, Russia. She received help from the University's Alumni Fund to fund the placement.

She was one of the winners of a competition organised by ASET (Association for Sandwich Education and Learning) to produce a 'blog' of their year abroad.

Her winning entry is below:-

"Picture the scene: a classroom full of cherub-faced, angelic children, attentive, hanging on every word and absorbing all of the exciting new information that they're being fed. Then switch off the Channel 5 afternoon movie and realise that it's not quite like that - I'm spending this year working as an English teacher at an orphanage school in Samara, Russia. These teenagers take no prisoners and their expectations of the lessons range from very high, to whatever the Russian is for 'English? Really? That's nice, dear.'

"It's still difficult to set out what I hope to gain from this year, or what I expect it to be like, as I'm sure my students would never afford me the luxury of being the least bit predictable. This is an interesting place to be, as I'm living at the orphanage and teaching at the attached school, slowly getting to know the people I live with and the kids I see every day. So many of them come from backgrounds unimaginable in my comfortable little life back in the UK and some of the stories I've heard already are heartbreaking. This year I expect to be challenged and changed, to learn quickly and to experience the highs and lows that can only come with the challenges of working with young people and from living in a country as unique as Russia. I expect the students to try and push me to my absolute limits more than once and I expect to be frustrated by them, but I expect too, the amazing feeling that comes when a pupil finally grasps a subject and succeeds in conveying their understanding of it. Well, if the first month has been anything to go by, this is what I expect anyway.

"I also expect to keep finding out things about this place that alternately confuse and entertain me – the supermarket where the ‘security measure’ is to seal in plastic your handbag and any shopping you already have when you go in, for example, or the fact that no-one knows where Wales is (not impressed!). And the fact that the reaction of a worrying number of older Russian ladies on meeting me is to first try and feed me and then to attempt to marry me off to any young-ish male relatives they can think of. Bizarre, really.

"And if all else fails, at least there’ll be snow."