• Belarus,  Personal,  Vitebsk

    Spiritual Cranberries or Just a Kind Spirit?

    A couple of weeks ago, I was laying on my couch awakening from a nap and contemplating whether or not it was time to take another DayQuil. I had, yet again, caught a virus of some sort and was alternately sweating and shivering in a feverish daze. It was in that state that I heard a knock on my door and a female voice calling my name with a distinctly Russian accent. Initially, I wondered if my feverish brain had conjured this grandmotherly voice but quickly realized that I was not, in fact, that ill and that the voice outside the door was quite real and growing impatient. A bench…

  • Belarus,  Education,  Fulbright,  Personal,  Vitebsk

    Seeing Myself Through a Child’s Eyes

    “You know what, Alana?” I turned away from the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I was preparing to see the eight-year-old boy I was babysitting studying me with a thoughtful look. “You’re like the Mona Lisa. You don’t laugh a lot, but you smile all the time.” An amusement park in Polotsk I had no words in response, which for those of you who know me, is a truly rare occurrence. “Is that a compliment?” I wondered to myself. Seeing his sincere smile and strangely mature, thoughtful expression, I decided to accept it as one. I thanked him and said, “At least I have eyebrows.” He giggled at my silly…

  • Education,  Fulbright,  Vitebsk

    The First Lecture (and Random Screaming Men)

    In a dream on Sunday night, I heard a man screaming. It was a loud, long scream that awakened goosebumps on my arms. The scream had started in my dream, but I quickly realized that I was quite awake. I found myself sitting up in my bed squinting at my curtained windows. There was indeed a man screaming somewhere outside my apartment, and I heard the sound of running footsteps and then police sirens. Exhausted from a long day of travelling to Minsk and a late evening of lesson planning for my first lecture, I quickly fell back asleep. Monday morning my alarm and the impending reality of my lecture…

  • Belarus,  Fulbright,  Vitebsk

    Pigeons and Publicity

    (Or Alana is no longer anonymous and has held pigeons IN HER HANDS) My presence in Vitebsk cannot be described as one of the city’s best kept secrets. From the moment that I stepped foot in the university building, I was photographed, and my work was described at length on the University’s website. Little did I know, but that was just the first step in an extensive list of publicity garnering experiences. During one of many conversations I had on my first day at the university, someone mentioned that a Belarusian newspaper would want to write an article about me and what I will be doing. This made sense. I…