Four district families will be saying their good-byes to six visitors they’ve grown close to when children from Belarus, who stayed in the area for the summer, will begin their long journey home Friday.
Although the six week stay was full of everything from swimming to fishing, their host families quickly pointed out that things were a little different this time around.
“Last year, I would have to say I had four sons and two visitors—but this year, it was like six brothers all together,” said Linda Beller, who housed Artsion Kandratsiuk, 12, and Dzmitry Stryha, 11, at their Rainy River home during their six week stay.
“They’ve become more like [my sons],” she added.
Fitting in with the family wasn’t the only change the kids underwent. “I noticed their appetites were a lot bigger—maybe it’s to do with being more familiar with the food,” laughed Beller, who mentioned Stryha tried pizza for the first time this visit.
Beller noted that some of the activities the kids did during their stay was hide and seek, tag, and camping with her husband, Albert.
But one thing that didn’t change from last year was a slight problem between Beller and the boys—language.
“They really didn’t expand their English as I’d hoped—they didn’t have to use it,” she remarked, adding that her son Jeremy, would act as a go-between for the visitors.
“They get what they wanted by pointing, and gestures like that,” she added.
On the other hand, Stewart Gill, who with wife, Yvonne, and their two children, noted Alena Mauchun, nine, and Iryna Slavashevich, 13, were speaking a little better around their Morson home.
“The English is definitely improving, but I think it has to do with being more comfortable this time round,” he mentioned.
“They’re more familiar with the program,” added Gill.
The program this summer included house boat trips, the Chapple Centennial, and even making homemade dresses with Yvonne.
Heidi Ivall, who spent the entire summer at the lakes with Veranica Tatsiankova, 13, remarked that her visitor fit in so well, she said she wouyld like to travel to Canada for a career.
“She’s so comfortable over here, and her English is excellent—she said she wants to be an interpreter when she grows up,” delighted Ivall.
But parting may be a little tough, especially for the kids, whose
trip home will take several days—including a gruelling 18-hour bus ride from Moscow to Chaussy where a few of them live.
“I think Nica is getting anxious just to get all that travel over with,” said Ivall.
All the host families, including Cathy Zin and Terry Wilcott with their guest Dzmitry Fedoruk, will be leaving for the airport in Winnipeg by Thursday.
A plane ride from Winnipeg to Toronto will be followed by a stop in Frankfurt and a connecting flight to Moscow.
Last year, 10 Belorussians came to stay with six district families to get a respite from the harsh environment of their homeland in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
It is not known whether any youngsters will be coming here next summer to stay.