By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two Baltimore high school students have just returned from Russia where they represented the U.S. in a language competition.

The two girls, along with two other American students, competed at the “International Olympiada of Spoken Russian,” against students from 35 nations including China, Cyprus, Peru and Syria.

Now, Patricia and Katrina have been back at the “Friends School” for less than a week. They said they are still digesting all that they saw, learned and the new relationships they formed as they compete at Moscow’s Pushkin Institute.

“We all connected, that we were all students we are all teenagers, we all had similar ideals about school and life and our future,”

The competition was written and oral. The judges were Russian.

“All the judges were really kind, and they really wanted to encourage especially the Americans, they were really excited that Americans were studying Russian in school, they were like, ‘How long have we been studying. Why are we studying,'”

Patricia’s older brother persuaded her to learn Russian so they could fool their parents by speaking in a language they didn’t understand.

“My dad is Russian and even though we didn’t really speak Russian at home I knew certain words,”

“They’re both amazingly hard workers. I’m super proud of how hard they’ve worked over the years,”

That hard work carried them almost 5,000 miles from home. In a small classroom at the “Friends School”, their teacher, Lee Robey, prepared them. They brought her a souvenir.

“It was shocking when two students from the same school and the same class were chosen for Olympiada,”

In the end, Patricia was awarded the “Judge’s Nomination” for best oral answer and Katrina won third place overall.

They have certificates to frame, but also, they’ve brought home a lesson they can’t find in a textbook.

“Understanding that people have different experiences is important because you have a better understanding of people in any situation and you understand that people have different perspectives and I think that’s cool,”

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