Okay the title is a little off, but that is all I could think of right off thetop of my head.. Besides, today I have a migraine the size of Montana, so I can be a little slack with a new post.
Today was the day I had been secretly dreading for almost a week. Talking with students! Okay, I have to say here that I am not particulary afriad of taking to students, but it is the whole “public speaking” thing that I cringe at. Public speaking is not the easiest thing to do.. Especially when everyone is staring at you, and one feels like that they have to be an actor and portrait a certain image that everyone has built up in their minds about you, and hope that you don’t make a complete idiot of yourself in the process. 🙂
We arrived at the university a little later than expected, thanks to the traffic congestion that was backed-up some two miles or more, and when we finally got there, we were introduced to the editors of the magazine School English. As it turns out, the main editor – Valery – is a HUGE AC/DC fan, and has their latest album on the computer. He also had the latest Metallica album on CD. Quite interesting note there as AC/DC is an Australian band.. So, way to go Valery! 🙂
Okay, so getting back to the topic… Speaking. I was shown to the class of Philosophy Studies, and introduced to the class of ten students. Nice and small? Well, I will say that.. The audience and room was small, and made me feel a little awkward. (Not because I am claustrophobic, but because I think public speaking is about as much fun as watching grass grow!)… But awkwardness aside, I think that the students must have felt some degree of awkwardness also as the questions were few.. Or maybe they were bored with my presense?? Hmm.. Anyway, the lecture went something like this:
I introduced myself and Anna to the class, and then their teacher asked her students of they had questions.
Silence.. (Okay, this is the point where one should hear the sounds of crickets!!!) 🙂
Finally one girl with black long hair in the back asked the first question, and asked how old I was. I replied “Over 25.” trying to break the monotomy of sounding like a real card. (Obviously that didn’t work!)
Okay, questions were now limited to questions on writing. The only guy in the class (lucky him!) asked me about Russia literature. Sorry, but my knowledge of Russian authors is limited to what I see online 😦
First girl then asked me about how I got started. Okay, this is where I got “Interesting” . Of course, I gave her the condensed version, skipping the part about “Shack of Evil”, and the titles of the other 26 short stories I had penned back in 1989.
Some twnety minutes later, my brief encounter with public speaking was over, and I could breath again. (Phew!). With the nervousness aside, I think that it went okay. I certainly think it did as the students did ask me for the web address.
Then it was back downstairs to the knife-throwing area. Ah how I missed this! I spent the next hour throwing knives at the target (Did alot better this time I did!), and got to meet the Knife-throwing president, Andrej, who invited Anna and I to the local Samara tournament on December 12th. Andre, we will be there without a doubt!
I would like to take this moment to say a special thank you to the Philosophy Class with hosting me today. You all were great!
Keep watch for a special edition of School English, where I will have an expose on Christmas in Australia, titled, “An Australian Christmas”. I will be looking at the traditions of Australians at the festive season also some famous Aussie Slang that you Canna Miss Oi!
Again a big thanks to Sergey to helped put this together.
Winter is approaching, and what better way to spend the day by going downtown and get in some last minute window shopping before the snow sets in….
Anna and I started our day by taking our first stop at McDonalds. Of course, as this is the most popular restaurant in town (probably because they dont serve portions of food by the gram), we had a wait a little while before we got out order and found a place to sit. Lunch was nothing spectacular, but hey, this is McDonalds and as we all know, Maccas is home of the famous “Lard Burgers”. Really, their slogan should be “Over 1 Billion Lard Burgers Sold”… I will say this though, at least the chicken nuggets here taste like chicken.. Not like in the United States or Australia where the nuggets are made of anything BUT chicken meat 🙂
While we were having lunch, a young boy came up to us and begged for money. This boy was not some average child who would beg for money, but he was a true street-kid. Almost blind in one eye and wearing tattered cloths. Of all the people who sat there in Maccas today paid little attention to him, and either ignored him or looked away. Anna and I watched as this boy went up to a table and ate the remains of food that someone else had left. Doing what we felt was right, we gave the boy some money and gave him some hope for his day…
Next on the agenda for us was a visit to the Russian version of Ticketmaster, and we got tickets to go see the Russian cicrcus this coming Saturday. I am looking forward to this as this will be the first time I have been to a real circus! And what better way to see it than with family! (One person in particular.. If you are reading this, you will be in for a treat!)
After buying more tickets to go see a play on December 7th, we went to meet my new friend here in Samara, Sergey. Sergey works at the Nayanova University in the downtown of Samara. At first I had not thought too much into the details, but as we walked there, Anna mentioned to me that I may be speaking to some students today.
Okay! Panic Time!… Me? Infront of a classroom of kids, and talking? To quote Shaggy here, “YIKES! GANGWAY!!!” Public speaking was something I was never good at. I remember the last time I had to face an audience. It was at an Amway convention in Brisbane, when I earned my first (and ONLY) 3% Pin…
Now although I didn’t have to say much (apart from my name and who my uplines were), that was bad enough… Being there on stage all I could see was that darn spotlight shining in my eyes.. Giving me the feeling that I was about to sing to a train!!!
(Okay… Flashback now finished)
Okay, but that was then, and this is now… I am not the Shy person I once was.. Infact, I rather now like being in the public eye…
Right, I better get back on track before I go into a complete non-related tangent and confuse everyone.. including myself 🙂
We arrived at the University at around 4pm, and met Sergey at front as arranged. Sergey is really cool. He also works on the School English, which is a national publication which goes out to some 10,000 subscribers in Russia (way cool Sergey!!) http://schoolenglish.ru/
Sergey also asked me to drop by next Wednesday and give a talk to the students about my travelling experiences, writing, and answer questions. Really looking forward to this! Kinda reminds me of my “Show and Tell” days 🙂
As it turns out, Sergey is also into knife-throwing and competes at a national level. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with knife-throwing (no, it does not involve throwing knifes at someone, in the hope they will catch it in their teeth… For those who thought this, you have been watching TOO much David Copperfield!), you can go online here and check out what knife-throwing is all about:
The version for Samara is here: http://ivek.ru/knife.php?kn=1_1_23
After a brief tour of the Uni, Sergey took us to the area where they have the knife-throwing practise. Now this area is more or less located in the basement area of the Uni, and I have to tell you, this place is really decked to the nines! When you see the area for the first time, the walls have been hand crafted with oak and made to resemble the middle-ages. This was hand-crafted by current world knife-throwing champion, Mikhail Sedyshev (Who I had the pleasure of also meeting).
There are throwing knifes of all kinds, (one in particular was the knife that looked like it was made for Vlad the Impaler… and by the way, this one was my personal favorite!) and to say I was impressed is an understatement! Not only did I get to see what this sport is about, but Anna and I got to try our hand at knife-throwing. Okay, the object of this sport is to throw the knife at the target.. More or less like Darts… Sound easy? Yeah right! This was not as easy as it sounds as the knife doesn’t always hit the target, and more often than not, the knives would hit the target and go bouncing off somewhere else, mainly to the other side of the room, or anywhere else but the target. Okay, as difficult as this sport it, I still had a blast of a time! It was great fun to try to master this sport in a few seconds, but alas, it seems that my Jedi powers were completely on the blink today 🙂
Then we got to meet Mikhail Sedyshev. He is the current world champion. I have to say, he is a very down to earth guy and is very hospitable. Anna and I got to see all the different style of knifes and hand-crafted swords of all kinds that would make any collector envious! We even got to see the showroom of swords that are unavailable to the public (and got to wield these swords), and to top it off, I got to try on the official Sultan outfit that Mikhail won for first prize in the Asian Knife-Throwing Tournament.
Before we left Mikhail presented us with gifts that are truly amazing and absolutely priceless, not only for him, but us also.
Two more great things today. Mikhail and Sergey asked me to be a part of the National Tournament in February to represent Samara. This is a really cool, as I will be an Australian representing Russia in a national tournament. You can bet I am excited about this!
Lastly, soon I will be contributing to the School English magazine, so be sure to check this out online at: http://schoolenglish.ru/
Thank you Sergey and Mikhail. Anna and I had a great time this afternoon.