On July 7, NSLI-Y students joined U.S. Embassy personnel, Narva College and Tartu University staff, host families, and students from the University of Pittsburgh, to celebrate U.S. Independence Day in the Northern Yard inside Narva Castle. Despite the cold rain, everyone had a great time. Students had one-on-one time to talk with the Ambassador, who told them about diplomatic luminaries such as George Kennan and Charles Bohlen, and the experience of studying Russian in Narva-Joesuu.

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Elliott, the Resident Director in Estonia, took the opportunity to thank each host family for their hospitality. He gave a brief speech in Russian and, drawing on his previous travel experience in Tbilisi, Georgia, raised a (nonalcoholic) toast:

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 1.03.35 PM NSLI-Y Students with U.S. Ambassador James Melville

“Горный джигит приехал на новый год в Сибирь. Стоит на остановке, весь инеем покрылся и ругается: – Черт побери, проклятая Сибирь! Нацепил на себя две шубы, а сам стою как словно в одних трусах! Вы нас так хорошо встретили, что я сейчас от вашего приема могу, как грузин поругать свою страну: стою в майке и трусах, а ощущение такое, как будто на мне три соболиных шубы!”

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 1.03.17 PM Elliott, Ambassador Melville and Wally Kalm, Rector of Tartu University

Roughly translated: Once upon a time, a Georgian left his mountain village to spend New Year’s in Siberia. Once there, he stands at the bus stop, surrounded by nothing but snow and ice, and complains to himself, “I’m wearing no less than two fur coats, but this place is so darn cold, I feel like I’m standing outside in nothing but my underwear. In contrast, our welcome in Narva has been so warm that I could stand in this cold, wet weather, and feel like I’m wearing THREE sable fur coats!