What I learned from the Kitezh Youth Exchange
By Tess Raithby: The 2013 trip to Kitezh, Russia, was one of the most educational and inspiring experiences I've had in my life. The community that we were welcomed into has created a lifestyle that isn't often seen in this day and age. They've created their own Haven, their own safe place to bring children into. They've also established ways of working with these children that were unfamiliar to me. After being absorbed into daily life, I took away a new perspective on family and community dynamics. I found myself questioning many of my own beliefs about teaching and responding to children. I thoroughly appreciated this chance to think differently and be exposed to a new culture. This new culture spanned multiple levels. We were shown Russian culture through the food and language, but we were also shown a village community culture that I've never experienced having lived in cities my whole life. On top of that we witnessed a new set of cultural values in the ways the community members related to one another and related to the children. By the end, I was left with a desire to seek out different environments and varying lifestyles and belief systems. Kitezh was the first of many new cultures that I hope to experience.