Way way back during first semester I went as a guest speaker to Харьковский национальный автомобильно-дорожный университет (Kharkov national automobile-highway university) and had a grand old time chatting with the students. I must have done something right because at the end of that meeting they already proposed the idea of having me present at their student conference. I hadn't a clue what or when it would be, but I agreed none the less. Today said conference finally took place and it was a morning well-spent. It was a conference of the department of foreign languages and I was asked to give a presentation the differences between the American and Ukrainian education systems. I arrived at the university around 9:45 and was informed that I would be the first speaker after the opening remarks and a small performance by some students. That was a little unexpected surprise, but I suppose it was better to find out at the last moment than to have spent the last week worrying about being the opening presenter. The presentation went well and I answered a few questions in Russian and English afterwards.
We had a short coffee break during which I was assaulted with questions from one of the department's older teachers demanding to know why I wasn't reading more Russian classics in their original and why I wasn't yet married, "saved" from her by the unusually soft-spoken lone male English professor, handed off to a PhD student with excellent English when the professor had to go boil more hot water until a middle-aged female professor closed in and started worrying that all of the people trying to talk to me might be too overwhelming ("My motherly instincts were crying for you," she informed me) and I was led into another room where some break-out session presentations were going to take place. The presentations ranged from extremely interesting to rather difficult to understand, but overall I was impressed and learned a lot of interesting information. As the foreigner guest the facilitating professor wanted me to ask the presenting students questions, so thankfully I was able to quickly think-up a few. The facilitator presented certificates, I made the closing remarks for our section, and then we took several pictures, which I hope to get my hands on eventually. The directors gave me a present in a pretty little bag, which I later looked into to find that they had gifted me a cake! yummmmm :) They thanked me again and again for coming and I in turn thanked them for inviting me to participate. I then rushed off with a happy heart to make it to Karazina just in time for 13:30 Ukrainian lessons. It was such a positive morning of communication with such optimistic, forward-thing, open-minded individuals and I really feel like we learned a lot from each other. That's why I'm here, after all!
|The "diploma" I was given for participation in the conference|