Belarus: Eleven Surprises

I’ve been in Belarus more than three months now — long enough to have learned a bit of the culture and started detecting patterns, but not so long that I’ve stopped rubber-necking my way through each day. Three months in, I find myself teetering between easy familiarity and continued awe. I know now that I […]

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Who, Me?

My friend Helen, a colleague at the university, arranged the whole thing.  Weeks ago, Helen pinned down a date when I’d be free to visit her son Sasha’s gymnasium (an academically advanced K-12 school) — the same gymnasium she, herself, attended — and spend some time talking to the English teachers.  The idea was born […]

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First of the Month

His grunting is muffled, but still, every “oof” and muttered curse can be heard in the hallway where his wife and I are stifling our laughter. She speaks a few words of English, and I have a smidgen of tatty Russian, but we don’t need language to share a giggle, especially when it’s about the […]

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Little Pink Houses for You and Me

I can’t keep up with the apples. Even at my current pace of eating two a day — BACK OFF, DOC! — I can’t keep up with the apples. Nearly every time I leave my apartment, some kind person slips an apple into my hand, topples a dish full of them into a bag for […]

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