Today was the first day of filming, and it took place at the school. They filmed us rehearsing, an encore performance of the scenes, interviewed most of the students, the school staff, and me. It was a great day, and so wonderful to see the kids so excited to be on television. After the crew left, I stayed and was the guest of honor at a Thanksgiving Day Debate where the senior class students debated the pros and cons of celebrating the day. They knew their stuff! They discussed the treatment of Native Americans by early Europeans, the value of the holiday in general, and many other finer points -- all in English! I was very impressed. Then I was asked to speak about the meaning of Thanksgiving for Americans. Can't tell you how meaningful this was for me, as Thanksgiving is also my Dad's birthday, and it was his favorite holiday, and he even wrote a book focusing on the first Thanksgiving!
The hardest part of the day was watching some of the students cry about my upcoming departure. It was very hard to keep it together, but I had promised myself I would not cry until I said goodbye to them for good - at the orphanage.
Did I mention 5 of them are coming with us to the orphanage? I'm so excited! And Channel One will be there filming all day. This afternoon they spent the day at the Ministry of Education discussing the hosting program we are starting in Prokopyevsk with Project 143. I believe all this attention will only help our endeavor.
Well, I need to go pack. We are bringing quite an array of things tomorrow, some of which I need to wrap very carefully tonight! Here's a partial list of what we are bringing on this final visit, thanks to the incredible generosity of many friends and blog readers:
- Toilet paper for every single child. (The orphanage budget does not allow for TP, so we bought tons of it as a surprise!)
- A Christmas tree
- Lots of Christmas decorations
- 400 photos to give out to all the kids and staff ( photos I have taken over the past several months)
- MANY Duplo blocks for the younger group
- 5 more dolls
- a computer camera ( for Skype)
- 2 dvd players
- a television for a group that does not have one.
- several photo albums
- 20 more inspiring movies (including Elf!)
- a few last books to add to the 150 already bought for them.
- Enough art supplies for every child
- Some American treats to share after our big Feast -- m&ms, skittles, American cookies