By Alexandra Velikhova
Valentina Atroshkina, a teacher of Russian language and literature at Belynichi secondary school, is a charming woman. She boasts rich teaching experience, and has given up much of her time in voluntary activities relating to the recuperation of Belarusian children in Italy. She has perfect knowledge of Italian and is known not only to youngsters from throughout Belarus, but also to many Italian families. The latter have freely welcomed boys and girls from the Mogilev and Gomel regions (those most affected by the Chernobyl disaster), with Valentina accompanying the schoolchildren to Italy each year during her official summer holidays.
Ms. Atroshkina first began volunteering eleven years ago, having completed her Italian language course. Besides having graduated from the Mogilev State University, she has independently studied Italian law, in addition to first aid for children, and knows about the diverse range of teaching and mentoring methods for children.
Not long ago, she brought home a group of schoolchildren from Rosa, in Italy’s Vicenza Province. Eleven boys and girls from Bobruisk, Svetlogorsk and Gomel had recuperated under her guidance, returning to Belarus in high spirits. During their month long stay on the Mediterranean Sea’s picturesque Apennine Peninsula, the children visited Venice, Padua and Vicenza, learning about Italy’s rich history and culture, as well as its invaluable treasures of sculpture, painting and architecture.
“Italians are very similar to us: in spirit, behaviour and mentality,” stresses Valentina. “They are quite open, kind-hearted and joyful. It seems they love everybody. Moreover, we have a similar sense of humour, despite living at different latitudes. Like Belarusians, they are very industrious and carefully preserve their national identity.”
“Before the trip, our youngsters had recuperated in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Brentonico and Aldeno — cities in the Trentino Alto Adige Region,” continues Valentina. “This time, they lived, studied and recuperated in the Venice Region. This trip has helped them strengthen their knowledge of Italian; whichever book you might use, language can be best mastered by real communication. Our children were so impressed by the local architecture, which reflects Italy’s three thousand year history. Such sights embody the power and glory of the Roman Empire while showing Italy as the cradle of the Renaissance.”
Valentina’s 19 year old daughter Masha is a Belarusian State Medical University student. She actively studies Italian and also volunteers.