Student Focus: Daria Sergeyevna Shavarina

Kristina Chu, Staff Writer

Junior Daria Sergeyevna Shavarina has chosen a future path that differs from the majority of her classmates. Instead of graduating with rest of the Class of 2015, she has decided to graduate a year earlier and return back to her home in Russia, where she plans on beginning her college education.

Except for her parents, who live in the United States with her, all of Shavarina’s family live in Russia. She explains, “My sister, her son and husband, my grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, aunts, uncles, the majority of my friends and, in some respects, colleagues, are in Russia, in Saint Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk.”

Born in Russia, Shavarina has lived between the U.S. and Russia, attending parts of kindergarten, second, and third grade here in the United States. She moved permanently to the United States in fourth grade.

The drastic twelve hour time time difference, which only allows Shavarina to talk to her friends in Krasnoyarsk in the morning before school, is one reason why Shavarina has decided to attend college in Russia. Though her parents tried to dissuade her from living in Russia, Shavarina shares that she is also returning to Russia since, “students graduate after eleven grades there.” This would allow Shavarina to easily integrate into the Russian education system with other students her age. To prepare for Russian college, she has spent a lot of time learning Russian literature, history, and art history.

Since many of Shavarina’s friends reside in Russia, Shavarina uses Skype or VKontakte, the largest Russian social network. However, Shavarina states that she also uses email to communicate with her friends in Russia, “just for fun or relative vintage.”

Ultimately, one of the greatest reasons she is returning to Russia is her love for Russia and its culture. Being “out of the loop” and, as a result, not knowing the true extent of the political situation of Russia is something that concerns Shavarina and has left her “with a sense of guilt.” She states, “I love Russia… I love its incredible nature- its immensity.” Moreover, “the mentality of the ever-patient Russian people is astonishing,” gushes Shavarina. “I am endlessly lucky to have this spiritual and moral patrimony.” What she wants others to know about Russia is that although its people have always been oppressed, its people still live, accomplish, and excel.

Because Shavarina has lived for extended periods of time in both countries, she has had thorough exposure to both American and Russian schooling systems. When asked about differences in American and Russian education systems, Shavarina replies, “It is definitely a flaw of the U.S. system that sciences are separated by grade level. In Russia, you have physics, chemistry, [and] biology simultaneously from grade seven, that way you learn a little each year without overworking one topic, and the comprehension of one subject aids in the assessment of another.” Another drawback she finds in the American schooling is the extremely early start and routine classes without breaks. However, Shavarina feels that Russian schools “are not prudent in handling bullying. The system is also far more rigid and less suited to individual needs,” she continues.

Over the years, Shavarina has developed a passion for languages. Fluent in Russian and English, Shavarina can also speak French and Spanish. During the week, Shavarina teaches three forty-five minute classes to students at SchoolNova, an enrichment center for French language and phonetics.

“I love to learn foreign languages, to listen to them, to study their structure,” she shares. Once when Shavarina was listening to a podcast by a South African speaker, he had mentioned the name of a province where it typically snows. However, it was not the fact of South African snow that astonished her, but instead the province’s name that intrigued her. “I have heard of clicking languages before, but this was the first time I heard anyone click,” she states. Inspired by the podcast, Shavarina bought a guide to study the Zulu language.

Clearly Shavarina’s heart is filled with strong sense of nationalism and it is inspiring to see a young high school student so passionate about her heritage. Regardless of which country Shavarina resides in, we wish her the best of luck in all of her endeavors.