Sevenoaks School in Kent, UK, visited Kitezh in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and foster children from Kitezh and Orion were hosted by Sevenoaks in June 2013 and 2016.
Sevenoaks School to Kitezh
In April 2012, four pupils from one of England’s most well-regarded schools, the Sevenoaks School in Kent, visited Kitezh for the first time with their Russian teacher Jon Drury, to practice their communication skills and get to know Russian culture.
After that successful first visit, Sevenoaks groups have returned to Kitezh every Easter, each time enjoying the richness of community life. Jon writes: “It is an inspiring place. Our pupils lived in families and integrated fully into the quite unique life of the community.
There was, of course, plenty of time for fun and laughter, and a physically demanding but hugely rewarding volunteer project, when we helped dismantle the wooden frame of their ‘summer canteen’, which had collapsed under the weight of the winter’s snow. There was a big concert, morning exercises, folk dancing and games, English lessons and plenty of socialising with our hosts. The Kitezhans are some of the friendliest Russians I have met, and we are looking forward to furthering our relationship in the coming years.”
Vardaan Mehra (17) wrote: “Thank you so much for welcoming us with open hearts into your lives. As soon as I stepped off the bus on Sunday I felt at home straight away. It is sad that I have to leave, because I love this place and everyone here. I have never felt more at home in any other place I have been to. Four days is too few to spend here, which is why I want to say that I will do my best to return and stay here for longer, and hopefully there will be old faces and new faces again. I will do all I can to return. But for now all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you for such a wonderful time and the lifelong memories that will always stay with me. Kitezh will always be in my heart.”
Watch this short film from Kitezh about volunteering, including a piece by Russian teacher Jon Drury:
Kitezh to Sevenoaks
From 2 June to 10 June 2013 Sevenoaks school hosted four orphans and a foster parent from the village of Kitezh in Russia.
Through a sponsored Santa Run the Sevenoaks Sixth Form Russian group raised the money to fund the Kitezh children’s visit to Sevenoaks.
Part of the ethos of Kitezh is allowing such children to develop and gain confidence through overcoming challenges. There was plenty of scope for this during their stay as they learned how to rock climb in the Sennocke Centre, completed a three hour treetop adventure at ‘Go Ape!’ at Leeds Castle, and overcame their fears of various rides at ‘Thorpe Park’ as they joined a Y10 Physics trip! They also spent time in school, shadowing pupils and helping in Russian classes. Other days were spent in Cambridge, London and Brighton. It was a magical week, that these four young people will never ever forget, and it is certainly something that we hope to repeat in the future.