Russian exchange student Rita Bekirova preps a West Duluth house for painting.
A group of students from our sister institution, Petrozavodsk State University, are taking classes and seeing the local sights while embracing the opportunity to learn about America.
This is the 26th year of the exchange, in which our students and the Russians visit each other's campuses in alternate summers. More than 500 students and faculty have participated in the program.
New this year is a community service project. On July 22 and 23 the visitors did home improvement projects at two Habitat for Humanity houses in West Duluth.
Other highlights of their agenda include a trip up the North Shore, an afternoon on the Munger Trail, visits to Movies in the Park, canoeing on the Brule River, a tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and a day at Valleyfair amusement park.
Valya Mironiuk said one of his favorite parts of the trip so far was an attempt to learn how to play softball.
"I think I'm going to get more practice," said Mironiuk, who usually plays soccer or the occasional rugby game with his friends back home. "I'll try to popularize the sport in Russia." Mironiuk said he was enjoying Duluth's warm weather, even as the temperatures crept into the 80s during the service project. Russia's summers are cooler, he said. But he missed his home country's "White Nights," a period of several weeks each summer marked by nearly 24 hours of daylight.
"You can read at 3 a.m.," he said.
The Russians depart for home on July 29.