On Saturday, March 23rd, students and faculty of the Russian Language department congregated for the first ever Russian Language Olympics at the College of William and Mary. The games, held in honor of Russia’s hosting of the 2014 winter Olympics in the city of Sochi, were the site of fierce, but fair, competition by Russian students of all abilities.
The event was organized from scratch by the students of Victoria Kim’s RUSN 306 class over the first half of the spring semester.Each level (1st, 2nd, and 3rd years) of students faced off for exclusive prizes, such as authentic Russian spoons, official Russian Language Olympic t-shirts and mugs, and of course, beloved Cheburashka dolls. The students competed in a jeopardy tournament, a short film contest, and a poetry recitation competition, respectively. Punctuated by brief breaks for pizza, trivia, and the screening of promotional videos for the Sochi Olympics, the event went off almost entirely without a hitch – the only exception being the Great Firewall of China prevented a “skyping in” of junior Rachel Faith.
In the end, almost every one of the 60 or so students and faculty in attendance went home with a prize or souvenir. The poetry contest in particular, where 3rd year students gave a short presentation on a famous Russian poet and then recited, first, Pushkin’s classic “I loved you,” and then a poem of their choice, revealed highly developed Russian skills and made a profound impression on the audience. In fact, some members of the audience were moved to tears by a stirring rendition of “Babi Yar” by junior Jessica Parks.
The undeniably fun event concluded in true Olympic fashion with the extinguishing of the Olympic torch… for now!