Obviously skilful at foreign languages

Each school tends to have a certain student who receives good marks across all subjects
Each school tends to have a certain student who receives good marks across all subjects. After finishing school with a gold medal, the doors of the country’s universities are all open to him or her and, there, that student also shines. These are the students who receive Presidential scholarships.


Anastasia Zvereva

Anastasia Zvereva, a fifth year student at Yanka Kupala Grodno State University, is one such; this is her third year in a row of receiving the honour. Called Nastya to her friends and relatives, pupils in the sixth through to ninth grades at Grodno’s gymnasium #3 call her Anastasia Ivanovna. She asserts that she doesn’t place herself higher than her fellow pupils, even though she’s been combining studies at university and school for two years now.

The young redhead is keen to promote her communication skills, as she wants to pursue a career in teaching; already, she gives English classes, which she enjoys greatly.

“From childhood, I was drawn to the ancient building in Gilibert Park. As a child, walking with my mother, I was told that it is our university. I dreamt of studying there. At school, I liked languages best, so I decided to enter the language and literature department. As a second year student, I was lucky enough to participate in an oratorical contest, run by the British Embassy to Belarus. I wasn’t particularly successful the first time, but found it fascinating to communicate with native speakers. The second time, I made sure I did well. As a first year student, I began researching, and wrote my first article for the university. Now, I’ve had 11 of my research works published,” explains Nastya.

The Presidential scholarship was a pleasant surprise for Anastasia Zvereva. Since her second year, she has received a considerable grant for each semester (paid for as long as she gains the highest marks). Her teachers keep an eye on her research publications, so she’s always under scrutiny. Hers is not a carefree student existence.

At 22, many would say that she should be having fun with new friends but Anastasia’s life is full all the same. During the World Ice Hockey Championship, she took on duties at Bruzgi checkpoint, on the Belarusian-Polish border, speaking with fans in both German and English. Naturally, speaking colloquially is very different from the language learnt in books.

“I’m still on friendly terms with the border guards, who invite me to various activities and tell me their news. Meeting them has encouraged me to travel. For example, I spent my most recent Presidential Grant, of Br5.5 million, on a trip to Austria. Before that, I visited Germany. It’s surprising, but nobody suspected that I was a foreigner. One saleswoman even confused me with a daughter of a relative. It was so strange!  I’ve spent all my Presidential Fund money on travelling. As the Germans say, ‘travel broadens the mind’. It’s honestly true.”

Nastya is no ‘living dictionary’, having other interests and hobbies. Recently, with the help of her 93-year-old grandfather, she learnt how to make wooden bast clogs: a family craft passed from one generation to another. Her grandfather has asked her to pass the skill to his great-grandsons.

Anastasia also likes to design puzzles, which she finds relaxes her. She enjoys music, painting, and reading fiction. She’s read Harry Potter in the original English and listens to The Beatles and Frank Sinatra, as well as watching British television series Sherlock Holmes and the well-loved programme Doctor Who, in their original language.

Nastya was even an observer during the elections. She tells us, “I felt involved in something important. Especially when a foreign observer from Holland arrived at our polling station, #15. We chatted for about an hour, and I arranged a tour of the university for him. I could see that he was impressed. I’m very happy with my choice of profession and all that is happening in my life.”

The Grodno Region is rich in talented youngsters. Every year, dozens of students from higher educational institutions and colleges become grant holders and prize winners, and receive support from the Special Fund of the President for the Support of Talented Youth. Gifted physicists, astronomers, programmers, philologists and musicians all benefit. We wish you good luck, guys!

By Tatiana Kondratieva
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