One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine

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Written by Heidi Smith, World Explorers

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 1
Gideon staying safe wearing masks and gloves with his host sister, Valentina, in Voronezh, Russia.

Gideon Foley joined CHI’s World Explorers program to be a Teacher’s Assistant in Russia this past February. He was supposed to return in April, but his flight was canceled due to a travel ban brought on by COVID-19.

Gideon is still not sure when he will be able to return home to Canada, but he is making the most of it by spending quality time with his hosts and teaching English online.

CHI has been keeping in contact with Gideon to make sure he is staying both safe and healthy while he is abroad. Our team caught up with him to find out what life is like in Russia during the quarantine. Read the Q&A with Gideon below!

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 2
Voronezh is a city on the Voronezh River in Southwestern Russia. It has over 1 million inhabitants. Photo courtesy o:f https://www.calvertjournal.com/

Q&A: Quarantine in Russia

CHI: How are things going over where you are in terms of the quarantine?

Gideon: People are all staying home as much as possible here in Voronezh, but there’s not really an enforced quarantine on people unless you are not healthy. If you are sick and caught being out, I think it would not be so good for you. The grocery stores are still busy, and people are out walking by the river and stuff. We spend most of the time at home, but try to get out for a walk with the dog or something every day. I think the situation has been pretty bad in Moscow though. I saw something maybe a week ago that basically nobody is allowed outside, and everything was closed.

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 3
Gideon (right) went out to dinner with his host family (pictured here are Valentina and her son Oleg) to a Russian restaurant before the quarantine started.

CHI: How are things at home? Have you been spending a lot of time with your host family?

Gideon: We’ve been doing a couple of things together, at the start of the quarantine we built a fairly complex Lego set of a VW camper van, and a couple of days ago we just started a big puzzle. We spend some time cooking for lunch and dinner.

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 4
Gideon built a VW Bus out of Legos with his host family to pass the time.

CHI: That bus looks awesome! It must have taken a while to build. Are you watching any shows or series?

Gideon: At nights we usually watch a couple hours of TV. We watched a couple Stephen King adaptations, The Outsider, and finished the first 2 seasons of Mr Mercedes. I started reading The Stand again as well… I thought it would be fitting in the time of a pandemic. So, really not too much that’s so exciting, but the days seem to fill themselves with different odd things here and there.

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 5
Gideon (bottom right corner) is now teaching his Russian students English online.

CHI: The school you are teaching at is closed. Are you bored at all? Are you able to do any virtual lessons with your students from home?

Gideon: I’ve actually felt like I’ve been keeping fairly busy so far. I’ve normally been attending online classes with students, on average maybe two lessons per day, and the classes are normally 100 minutes long. This week has been a little slower though, with maybe 5 classes total spread through the week.

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 6
Gideon has become fast friends with his host family’s dog, Zara. They go for daily walks together.

CHI: You mentioned you are able to go out for walks with the dog. Where do you go?

Gideon: Valentina and I usually take the dog twice a day, if it’s good weather we will go for maybe 45 minutes around the area.

CHI: Have you been able to see much of the country since you have been there?

Gideon: Here are some photos of a few interesting excursions we have gone on during the last couple weeks to try and fill the time.

One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 7
Gideon visited Dovnogorye,  an old church built into stone.
One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 8
He also went to Kudykina Gora, an amusement park with a medieval fortress. This giant 15-meter sculpture of Gorynycha greets guests of the park. At times, the fabulous villain literally comes to life, and all three snake heads spew out awesome flames.
One World Explorer Remains in Russia during the Quarantine 9
He visited this natural park about an hour outside of Voronezh which he said is a popular location for weddings and celebrations due to the unusual beauty in the area.

CHI: Wow, these places look fantastic! At least you have been able to see some stuff while you are stuck there. Do you have any idea as to when you may be able to go home?

Gideon: I’m not so sure about the travel ban here yet, there has not been any news released. I have been checking the news, but still have not seen any update acknowledging the situation since it was imposed. Things have been going fine here given the situation, but it’s a bit uncomfortable really not having any idea when the travel will open up again.

CHI: Fingers crossed that they open up travel again soon – I am sure it must be a weird feeling to not have a say in when you can return home. It’s all so up in the air. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, Gideon. Everyone at CHI thinks that you are incredibly brave and we wish you good luck for the rest of your stay in Russia!

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