Vicky Tang’s Diary
Belarus Wetlands

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August 9, 2009: Polatsk

Fabio making a wish Since it is not a work day, we elect to sleep in before our visit to the oldest city in Belarus, Polatsk. While there, we visit the Russian Orthodox church and monastery started by Euphrosyne of Polatsk, which also houses a replica of the famous Cross of Euphrosyne. We also see the Church of Saint Sophia, make our wish on the Boris Stone by placing all ten digits in a indent in the rock and making a wish. Across the other side of town, we see the monument to a letter – the Short U (Ў, ў) which only appears in the Belarusian alphabet.Letter monument  There is also a monument to the Geographical Centre of Europe.[photo] That evening after our dinner of stuffed chicken wings and buckwheat, half the group make presentations on their country of origin. Lucia starts off by talking about the Czech Republic. She shares cheese [photo: Czech cheese] and Becherovka (a traditional spirit made with 30+ herbs.) Fabio does a presentation on Brazil and the Amazon. In particular, he outlines his job role for Alcoa and the effects not only on the environment but also the local community. He works as a Sustainability Consultant to South America and the Carribean and lives in Juruti, the site for construction of Alcoa’s latest mining development. It has a population of 34,000 inhabitants, of which 60% live in rural communities that largely depend on nature for survival. The challenge is to provide support for these people as the environment around them changes. Fabio shared with us the huge effort that goes into sustainability that includes not only the environment but also safety and social responsibility projects. Mastura speaks about traditional Uzbec culture, shows us photos of her home town, Pushkin and her past volunteering projects. She also shares traditional dried fruits (apricots, figs, currants) and walnuts with us before presenting us with beautiful traditional hand-crafted gifts. I also make a presentation on Australia, share photos of beautiful landscapes, and learn that there are also bogs in Australia (apparently in Tasmania!) before sharing the story of Yennora and the benefits of can recycling.

Click image to enlarge.