My Sublime Time With the Youth Group in Belarus – Max Ohotin 2019
In the beginning of my summer this year, I went to Belarus. Reflecting on my walks through stunning churches and museums, I realized my experiences far outweighed my expectations. I assumed that Minsk and Moscow were similar, and that Polotsk and Saint Petersburg would give me the same feeling. However, after my ten day trip, I grew an admiration for Belarus I did not expect. I noticed the unique architecture of the churches, the almost ethnocentric design of Belorussian buildings, and a warm aura from the people of Belarus. The feeling of sublimity most wholesomely describes my emotions after this trip. I felt insignificant and alone— that is, with exception to God’s presence, in the massive churches across the country.
Firstly, one must understand the rich history of Belarus before accurately critiquing the art and culture of the country. The historical struggles that the Belarusian people were forced to overcome gave way for the creation of the country we see today.
Again, I felt sublime in the strongest sense of the word. When driving to Polotsk, the scenery was breathtaking, and something I had not seen before. The vast green grass covered fields seemed to nice to be empty. In the United States of America, this land would have been torn up and converted into an amusement park or a golf course.This past academic year, I learned about Ilya Repin, and his portrayals of late 18th century Russia. The scenery we drove across reminded me of a better time in Russia, more so than anything I had seen in Russia itself.
Not only did this trip give me a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction, but it taught me about the culture in a way far more productive than sitting in an American classroom and learning about the topic. I would not have gone on the trip this year if our wonderful donors had not delivered the way they did. I often travel to different states to see my Russian friends and go on other youth trips, and money is sometimes hard to come by. In short, the effectiveness of this trip is evident through the group’s essays and presentations, and through the many pictures that Father Andrei took of us enjoying the country. In many of the youth group members cases, giving one reason why they loved the trip is hard. I believe, especially after going to confession in a monastary, that I came back a better, more knowledgeable person.