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Russian Camp (College Essay)

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Russian Camp (College Essay)

Post by schuzhin » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:56 pm

The summer before the start of middle school is a nerve-wracking one for children across America, as they transition from the security and placidity of their youth into undoubtedly the most awkward years of their lives. I decided (Well, my mom decided) that I should spend a portion of mine in a sleepaway camp. The camp was run by a Russian school and featured a heavy emphasis on sports. I was excited, as I was going to spend two weeks with children just like me, with a Russian heritage and a fondness for athletics. My excitement was in vain. What followed my entry into the camp was one of the most miserable weeks of my life to date, resulting in my decision to forego the second week in hope of restoring my own sanity. In my shortened stay at this inferno of despair, I was unjustly punched in the face and was ridiculed for my Russian heritage by other Russian children.
That punch, the punch that provided me my first taste of the real world, came as quite a shock to me. To preserve his identity, let’s just say that the culprit’s name is Nicholas Petrov and that he lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey. A group of us were in my room during “Quiet Hour” playing poker. Nick fell asleep on the bed, and when someone else accidentally nudged the bed and woke him up, he groaned and angrily whipped his fist at my face. Eleven year-old me, possessing the agility and reflexes of a scrawny baby, was unable to deflect this blow. After applying his fist to my innocent noggin, Nick fell back asleep almost immediately. I never received an apology. That was the first domino to fall.
This Nick character was very popular at camp. He was the apple of the director’s eye, but she gave off serious Mafia vibes, so I would take that with a grain of salt. Perhaps other children just pretended to like him in fear that he would drowsily punch them in the face too.
The most unbelievable thing I experienced at this camp was the ridicule for speaking Russian among other Russians. One of the girls at the camp was from Moscow and spoke hardly any English, and as one of the children who spoke Russian well, I befriended her, and she never punched me in the face. One day during lunch, we were speaking Russian to one another when two boys came up to us. These boys, like Nick, had a far larger fanbase than I did. “What language are you speaking?” one asked. The other replied “I think it’s illegal immigrant language.” How he, a child of Russian immigrants, failed to realize the outrageous irony of his statement still amazes me to this day.
When the first weekend came, all of the parents drove up to camp to check in on their children and drop off any additional clothes or items we wanted. Needless to say my mother had a fuller car on the way back than on the way there. Though my experience was, in a word, horrific, I learned a valuable lesson that week. Before my experience at camp, I had never seen the bad side of popular kids. They were friends with everyone, sat in the back of the bus, and seemingly walked in slow motion. What’s not to love? But Nicholas showed me unwarranted aggression. Those two bullies exemplified ignorance and stupidity. All three were considered cool. The weird kids, the ones who didn’t fit into any archetypes, those were the kids I had the most fun with. In order to avoid replicating this experience in any way, I have shaped myself to be unique and fun, to be a rare bright spot in the summer camp of youth.

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