Elena Khramova, international student from Russia, recounts her summer 2006 experience with Kelly Pittman, Kansas City, Missouri during the Take a Friend Home Program.
The "ake a Friend Home" program was an incredible opportunity to introduce my friend, Kelly Pittman to my country, culture and my family. Our trip to Russia was a wonderful journey that allowed me to look at my culture from a different perspective, learn more about myself and my culture, and even my family. I believe it was a wonderful experience for Kelly as well. Being exposed to another culture and live in the different country for 3 weeks would not leave anybody's mind without some learning, evaluation and appreciation.
While being in Russia, Kelly and I explored the historical sightseeing of the Kaliningrad region, peoples' customs and styles of life, and Russian food. We visited an old Prussian Castle, Georgenburg, and its famous stables, which produce one of the best racing horses in Europe nowadays. This Castle was founded in the 12th century. It was rebuilt many times throughout the centuries and the wars that Europe experienced in its history. During the WWII the castle was almost destroyed. After the war some ruined buildings, stables and arenas were restored and turned into a modern looking horse producing and training complex.
During our excursion in the castle, we were let inside the stables to see rows of different breeds of horses; German elite horses, winners of the famous European and Russian contests, best producers etc.
We also visited a world unique Amber Museum. Its expositions tell the story of amber starting from the Jurassic Era. Little butterflies and ants, pieces of leaves and sand locked inside the golden color tar for hundreds of years decorate thousands of amber stones today in the pieces of jewelry. Following from one exhibition to another we saw hundreds of beautiful old and modern necklaces, rings, crowns, different monarchy symbols, chess, mugs, even walls pieces made of amber. You would not see it anywhere else in the world!
Take a Friend Home gave me and Kelly a chance to learn more about each other and ourselves, get closer as friends. It was a journey to get to know ourselves and the world around us in its true full colors. It was very inspirational and educational.