Day of Knowledge
Every child remembers their first day of school, what is known as the day of knowledge. Unlike Americans who sometimes dread the fact that summer is over, this first of September is actually considered a national holiday, celebrated with rehearsed ceremonies, gifts and flowers. On this day, every child regardless of age or grade gets dressed up and prepares themselves for the literal and figurative start to their academic year, actualized by the ringing of the bell.
This year, we had the honor to witness the day of knowledge be hosted by one of the companies we will be touring, The Grand Canyon. Saturday morning, 10 of us voluntarily woke up and traveled to the outskirts of St. Petersburg to see this marvelous ceremony. In short, what we saw was genuine eagerness and dedication from both the students and the administrators of the school. Poems were recited, skits were enacted and values instilled. One thing that stood out to us most was how seriously the faculty approached disciplining their students. This was another difference between the two cultures that was quite apparent. Most American school systems encourage education and participation but less frequently does one witness it’s discipline extend to the moral values pertaining to friend and family life.
Another unique ritual typical for this holiday is the ringing of the bell, where a first grader is lifted on the shoulder of a 11th grade male pupil, and paraded around, ringing the first bell of the school year. This holiday is a flagrant example of how education truly is one of Russia’s main priorities. Overall, we had an amazing time and really enjoyed the cultural experience that us ten BRICers shared.
Posted by: Greg Gonzalez, Michelle Tuzman, Marzan Khan