Wildcats Preparing for Russia in Classroom

Taylor Johnson

June 28, 2013

Russian Culture Lessons Video

While preparations for the World University Games have been happening on the court with practices, the Kansas State volleyball team is preparing for its upcoming trip to Russia in a classroom setting as well.

In an effort to know more about Kazan, Russia, and the culture they will experience when the team represents the USA at the World University Games, K-State has been meeting with Dr. David Stone from the history department once a week to learn a bit of Russian language, culture, customs and more.

Stone has volunteered his time with the team once a week and has given the Wildcats lessons on common phrases, language, culture and even discussed the famous Russian architecture the team will see in Kazan.

Having the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Russian culture a bit before heading to the World University Games has been a valuable and enjoyable experience for the athletes. Middle blocker Taylor Johnson said she is even more excited about the trip now knowing more about where she is going.

“The way they eat. The way they talk. Everything is going to be a really neat opportunity for us to learn,” Johnson said. “We had a session where we had to learn how to speak a little bit of Russian, our hellos and goodbyes, and it was nothing like how we talk. It’s been fun trying to learn some of their superstitions, the buildings they are known for and to see what they do in everyday life, and the way they speak has been very entertaining and very neat for us to learn.”

Outside of the team’s weekly meetings with Dr. Stone, the players also are organizing their own lessons. Similar to the team’s European tour in the summer of 2010, head coach Suzie Fritz has asked her players to make presentations to their teammates on similar topics that Stone has discussed with the team and expand on some topics.

Players work together or alone on presentations on a variety of topics. One recent lesson was on Russian superstitions and how they affect everyday life.

“Each of the players is responsible for researching and presenting an element of our trip.  Some have landmarks, some have culture, language or customs, and others have topics specifically geared towards the World University Games themselves,” Fritz said. “We’re fortunate to have Dr. Stone, one of our very own KSU professors in the history department, who possesses a PhD in Russian history, volunteer to spend some time with us as well.”

With the team set to leave next week for the World University Games, the lessons on Russian culture and history will be put to use soon. Embracing the Russian culture and the opportunity to wear red, white and blue in competition is an opportunity Johnson said she is excited about and can not wait to begin.

“It’s so interesting. We’re able to represent K-State, Big 12, our families and our culture and U.S.A., and then to be able to go over there and wrap ourselves around a whole other culture is going to be an experience beyond belief,” Johnson said.