During the summer of 2012, I spent two weeks teaching at a children’s summer camp in Siberia. The camp was located in the city of Kyzyl — the capital of the Tuva Republic, and the geographic center of Asia. The whole thing was a fortnight-long string of incredible, unforgettable adventures. And all preceded by the five-day journey to get there. I took a 24-hour train from Arkhangelsk to Moscow; followed by four nights on the train from Moscow to Abakan, the capital of Khakassia, the region to the north of Tuva; followed by a five-hour taxi ride from Abakan to Kyzyl. I covered some 3,600 miles, all told.
A map! Click for full size!
At the camp itself, there were over 50 kids, divided into 5 groups and ranging in age from 8 to 15 years. My fellow Fulbrighter A. and I were each assigned a group to be in charge of, along with three other teachers: Elena Baikalova, a teacher in the English department at the university; Natasha, her friend; and Anjelika, a high school senior who had spent a year as a FLEX exchange student in America. We all took turns throughout the day with each group.
My group was called the Champions:
In the meantime, A. and I compiled a wishful-thinking “To Do in Kyzyl” list which we amazingly managed to complete in its entirety. Over the next few weeks, I will [finally!] write about the various adventures we had, between teaching, traveling, and living.
- National Museum
- Cultural Center
- throat singing
- souvenir shopping
- therapeutic lake
- Tuvan food
- Yenisei River
- Buddhist temple
- Center of Asia
Episode 2: The Last Leg: Abakan to Kyzyl
Episode 3: Elena Baikalova
Episode 4: The Last Great Kyzylian Adventure