Minsk Essay 2018 by Serafim Arlievsky
I gained an enormous amount from the trip to Minsk. The most obvious thing is the interaction with youth in an orthodox country. Our zarubezhie is separated from the place we call our motherland, and amongst our youth the Russian language and Russian culture are slowly dying. It is vital for us to keep up this contact with the majority of the Russian Orthodox world, in order to keep our own traditions. It is important for our clergy to keep up contact, but the youth are the future, and building these contacts amongst the youth is key to our future.
There is also the pilgrimage aspect of it. Visiting the St. Elizabeth convent is of enormous spiritual benefit to anyone undertaking such a trip. In America, we have very few, if any, orthodox institutions operating on such a scale. To see a place where Orthodoxy is the majority, to see how their approach to the church is different than ours, is very much eye opening. Especially when in America, where we come from, Orthodoxy is a sort of fringe group.
Besides all this, world travel is of course extremely beneficial to anyone. Seeing how people live in other countries, the difference in quality of life, as well as traditions and differing social norms, broadens one’s horizons. Trips such as this one are a great opportunity for young people to become more well-rounded people, as well as better their proficiency in another language, something that also has myriad benefits.
Trips like this are also great in that they give us an opportunity to see a different orthodox community than what people usually see. Most people go to Moscow or Petersburg, and seeing an orthodox church farther from the center, and seeing how their prikhozhani lead their lives, is fascinating.