Ok, ok, I must begin with a disclaimer: I am not a linguist, an professional interpreter, or even close to fluent, but I still love the Russian language.  I knew that my Russian courses from good old CWRU would make a world of difference while Sasha was with us, and man, did they ever! 

It was such a blessing to be able to speak with Sasha, since he knew both Russian and I am lovedUkrainian. Most of our conversations had to be pretty basic, since my speaking and vocab are still very elementary.  I definitely had the basics down, and it didn’t take him too long to realize what I understood and what was beyond my comprehension.  We still used plenty of online translations for more complex sentences – Google Translate is a lifesaver!

My favorite times would be when I interpreted between him and another family member or friend.  There were many times when he tried to tell someone something or he couldn’t understand what someone wanted to tell him, and he would call “Djenelle!!”  And we would work together to break down that pesky language barrier.  

I love interpreting between him and my brother, Brad.  They would always be making some sort of plan or negotiation, whether it was about the Cleveland Cavaliers, who beat who on the Wii, who wanted to watch a “Three Stooges” dvd, what it would take for them to swap rooms for a night, Sasha teaching Brad Russian words, or Sasha teaching Brad to stand up for himself.  Sometimes they would drive each other crazy, but most of the time they made a pretty cute duo. 

And toward the end of our 5 weeks together, my Russian had improved, but Sasha’s English had improved even more.  I got used to speaking to him in English about certain topics,  but sometimes I forgot he couldn’t understand.  I would ramble on and on in English and he would say, “Jenelle, I am Russian!” meaning he wanted me to speak to him in Russian.  (I tried to tell him a million times to say “I am Ukrainian”, but he insisted on Russian, since that was the language we used the most.) Ah, do I miss that voice… hopefully I can get through on a call to his boarding school so we can talk again soon. 

Я скучаю по нему – Ya skuchayu po nemu – I miss him

Catching our chats on video was pretty rare, so this is a special video. While we were making homemade ice cream, Sasha asks me about our return trip to Chicago, which was coming a couple weeks later.

S: …мы будем летать на самолете в Чикаго или ехать машина?
…mi budem letat na samolete v Chikago ili yehat mashina?
(…will we fly in a plane to Chicago or drive in the car?)
J: Машина.
Mashina.
(By car.)
S: Машина? В отеле будем спать?
Mashina? V otele budem spat?
(Car? Will we sleep in a hotel?)
J: Да.
Da.
(Yes.)
S: Воу! Мне нравится отели.
Vou! Mne nravitsya oteli.
(Wow! I like hotels!)

Open-mouthed smile

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