After a long overnight train ride, bumping around a lot, we are back in Kyiv. The end of our visit in Zaporizhya was really special. The school had a big end of the year concert, and we were honored there. It took place in a big concert hall in Zaporizhya, called Glinka Hall. Carol and I gave speeches thanking the school for hosting us, and I made a balloon bouquet in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. I presented it to Helen, the school principal. Carol presented the school with an American flag that she had flown over the Capitol Building in D.C.! There were lots of gifts and hugs and “thank yous.” We feel very lucky that we were assigned to visit the Classical Lyceum. The people are so kind, and the students and teachers are so talented. We were made to feel very at home there! Our host teacher, Lydia, was so caring, and the principal, Helen, is also a wonderful person.
It was a beautiful evening, and we were certainly not the only people being honored! Students also received awards for their accomplishments. It was like an end of year awards ceremony and concert. There’s a Ukrainian tradition that people come up on stage and present people with flowers after a performance or award, much more often than we see in the States. The little flower girls and boys were adorable.
Students sat with their classes, and many of them snuck up on stage to perform without being noticed. The professionalism of the students was impressive. Even the little ones were poised, both while performing and also during the moments between songs. Only the littlest ones were squirmy in their seats.
We saw all different types of music, from traditional Ukrainian instruments to modern symphonic orchestral music. You can see the talent for yourself in the video.
Special thanks to everyone at Zaporizhya Classical Lyceum for welcoming us and helping make this week so memorial. I will do my best to bring back your warmth to my school community. I hope this is the beginning of a relationship between our two schools and not an ending.