Belarus students' give presentations about their country

By:Xiomara Levsen

Twenty Belarus students' presented information on their country to almost 50 Kalona residents last Thursday evening, at the Kalona Mennonite Church. "This is an exciting moment for us," Sherrie Nisly, area director for World Link Inc. said. "These just aren't any students. The U.S. government handpicked them and they (the students) paid their way. They saw their potential leadership skills." Each student took part in the evening presentation.

"We are very excited for today," Darya Chigrinets said. "For these three weeks we have been like exchange students. Tonight you will be our exchange students. Are you ready for this?" Chigrinets received an enthusiastic yes to her question from members in the Kalona audience. "Belarus is our country which is in the heart of Europe," Chrigrinets said. "We have a population of over ten million people." Chigrinets told the audience that sixty four percent of the residents in Belarus live in cities and that Minsk is their capitol. For the next hour a student went up to the podium and talked about certain aspects of Belarus. "Belarus is one of the seven largest potato producers in the world," Pavel Boisha said. "There is private and substitution farming. Half of the agriculture produced is in the private sector." Two students, Anna Mazurkevich and Vladimir Savchak, world champions in karate, did a short presentation on their karate skills and what physical education in Belarus is. "All people want to be healthy," Mazurkevich said. "World champions spend a lot of time in clubs training for their sports." Like the United States, in Belarus, there are a lot of private fitness clubs that people can go to work out in. Many of the students excel in sports such as soccer, ice hockey, basketball, volleyball, and running. In Belarus, health care is a national priority.

"Medicines are almost free," Anastasiya Yakimovich said. "You can go to a clinic, which is kind of like a family doctor in the United States. If you need special tests done you can go to a medical center for the tests. There are special profile doctors like a heart doctor, and a bone doctor. We have four medical universities in our country. People come to my country for care and tests." At the end of the presentation all of the Belarus students sang their national anthem for the audience. Afterwards there was a little reception for audience members to talk to the Belarus students. Riella Rich, hosted Yulia Panasyuk, and Yevgeniya Chesnovskaya, while they were in Kalona. "It's the best experience we've ever had in our life," Rich said. "The two girls aren't too happy about the time going by so fast. We wish we could keep them a little longer."

Chigrinets enjoyed her time in Kalona.

"I enjoyed the people," she said. "Smaller towns are like family. Everyone knows each other. I'm one hundred percent sure I will have family here in Kalona." Chigrinets is excited to share her experiences with her family and friends back home, especially stories about the Amish people. "It was very interesting to see them," she said. "It was unusual for us. All we knew about them is what we've read and from movies. I respect them. Nature is our mother and they are very clever people."