Seven NSLI-Y students in Kazan gave an on-stage performance at “Kuzminky,” Kazan’s Annual Russian Folklore Festival. Introduced as “The Russian Folk Music Group from the U.S.,” the NSLI-Y participants sang Russian folk songs accompanied on the balalaika in front of an audience of several hundred local residents. A dozen Russian youth groups from surrounding towns in the Republic of Tatarstan and greater Russia also performed during the festival. Nevertheless, local residents were pleasantly surprised to find out that a group of young Americans took the time to learn and perform traditional Russian folk songs and perform them with such mastery.
As part of the NSLI-Y Russia program, at the beginning of the semester, students chose from a list of several extracurricular project options, including tutoring and assistant teaching at local secondary schools, dance lessons, a movie discussion club, judo and Tatar wrestling classes, and volunteering with students learning English. Several students chose to join the Russian folk music group at Kazan’s Youth Cultural Center, where they have been attending weekly discussion groups and music lessons since mid-September. Students prepared for the festival performance with the support of their teachers at the Youth Cultural Center. The group’s spectacular performance at the festival served as a culmination of their efforts and dedicated learning.