Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Children's House of Culture in a Winter Wonderland

Upper left: The Mayor of a town in Poland, visiting Starobelsk, with Alosha and a young talent. Upper right: voice teacher extraordinaire Elena and a student; the choir in traditional dress; bottom: me and the mayor from Poland in a warm international greeting, and at right, Olga enjoying the music, and a respite from visits to her 78-year-old mother in a Lugansk hospital.

I walked through a winter wonderland on my way to a special concert for a visiting Mayor from Poland at the Children's House of Culture. This is the art center for the children of Starobelsk, with lots of after-school activities along with dancing, art, drama and singing lessons.

It had snowed the night before and our town was white. Fluffy snow covered housetops and tree branches. The evergreens looked lovely dressed in white. I even spotted a decorated Christmas tree on my way to the Children's center. It's a Charlie Brown sort of tree, standing proudly in its Christmas finery among the other trees.

I arrived as the singing started. The choir was composed of the students of noted voice teacher Elena. She's magnificent and dedicated, and so are her students. They sounded beautiful, singing a medley of songs from Poland, America, and Ukraine. They looked beautiful, too, dressed in traditional Ukrainian style, the girls with garlands

of flowers in their hair and the only boy, my dear young friend from the English Club, Alosha, in a beautiful embroidered shirt and yellow sash, a tall and handsome 16-year-old full of talent and determined to use it.

After the concert the visiting Mayor presented the arts center with a holiday gift of a new DVD and video player. It was a happy occasion.

I walked home with the sounds of children's songs filling my head, scenes of winter filling my senses, and the holiday spirit filling my heart. I felt blessed.

P.S. I just found out about this visiting Mayor from Poland, who I thought was the Mayor of Starobelsk. So much for my Russian language, but hey, it's нормалд'но! It explains the Polish songs, too. Many Poles come to Starobelsk to visit the site, at the Monestary, and memorial of slain Polish officers during and after World War II.

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