On Saturday, March 8, REEEC participated at the GlobalFest, a two-day event hosted this year by the Normal Community West High School. Organized annually by the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the GlobalFest offers middle and secondary students the opportunity to immerse themselves into world cultural experiences, languages and competitions. The GlobalFest relies on the assistance of teachers, professional performers and presenters, authentic native speakers, student organizations and clubs. Through its various mediums – language immersion rooms, cultural discovery rooms, stage performances, competitions, a ‘global market place’, arts and crafts displays and activities, it gives students the chance to make new forward thinking connections useful in our global society.
Our center’s contributions to this event included a series of short Russian language classes for beginners. Nellie Manis, an M.A. student at REEEC, took students on an imaginary flight to Moscow’s, teaching them the fundamentals of the Russian alphabet and some basic Russian conversation.
REEEC also entertained approximately 70 students with its now popular Russian Folk Horror Stories program. Being lured by Russia’s scariest folk characters, students blocked the hallways in front of the Russian Cultural Discovery Room 20 minutes before our program began. For an hour, they were then transported into the haunted world of guardian spirits and tricksters, borderline characters both good and bad. What students enjoyed the most, however, was the truly creepy folk tale of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave. This horror version of Cinderella, in which Baba Yaga – the Russian queen of witches – threatens first to gobble up the poor orphan but eventually helps her overcome her evil stepmother and stepsisters, recalled the terrifying imagery and sounds of contemporary horror movies. To sweeten students’ taste for Russia and her culture, REEEC distributed some Russian candy, a conclusion to the program that students greatly appreciated.