Moscow Expat SUBBOTNIK

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Luci Rodriguez

‘I am lucky, you are lucky: let us get lucky together!’

That lovely song by Kate Micucci became the anthem for the Moscow Expat Subbotnik in Novodevichiy Park on Saturday, April 25. The Expat Subbotnik was much more than a traditional spring clean-up. It was an international festival of bright smiles and hardworking hands. Volunteers of all ages and nationalities worked and had fun together in an atmosphere of friendship and unity.

The citywide ‘subbotniki’ on April 18th and 25th were initiated by Mosgorpark, while the Expat Subbotnik was coordinated by Korsa Media, which organizes the famous Moscow Youth Soccer League, and MPC Social Services, a charity that supports refugees, pensioners, and marginalized families. The goal of the event was to give expats and Russians a chance to work side by side to improve the city.

Saturday morning was quite chilly and rainy, but the weather didn’t dampen volunteers’ spirits. Led by professional runners from the RRUNS club, the volunteers started the day at 10:30 with a morning run around Novodevichiy Pond to warm up and wake up. No one could resist the runners’ contagious energy: the bad weather was forgotten and everyone was ready to start cleaning up the park.

Over 100 people participated in the Expat Subbotnik. “We were quite surprised and at the same time very pleased to see how much enthusiasm people have! The volunteers arrived and started asking for tools right away, being happy with any task. The communication was very positive, and we enjoyed the dynamics of the event,” said Ksenia Mershina, one of the Expat Subbotnik organizers from Korsa Media. The volunteers not only cleaned the park, but also painted and installed wooden birdhouses and fed the numerous birds living in Novodevichiy Park. After the clean-up, people played soccer, visited a flea market, and a took part in a book exchange.

Volunteers enjoyed tea and coffee from the Julius Meinl company, delicious Pringles chips and ‘samsa’ (traditional Asian lamb pies) provided by Novodevichiy Park. Food vendors GansKitchen, Пян-Сё, and Cocoyoyo helped give the volunteers energy. Everyone could try coconut water, traditional Russian ‘svekolnik’ beet soup and ‘herring under fur’ salad, as well as Korean and other Asian street cuisine. For dessert, the Moscow Youth Soccer League offered delicious homemade muffins and encouraged everyone to make a donation to help the organization save up to rent a field for the next upcoming football event, the Moscow Youth Champions League, which is taking place in May.

The Expat Subbotnik fun continues through a photo contest on Facebook and Instagram. Volunteers can post their photos with #expatsubbotnik. The best photo will receive a 3,000 RUB gift certificate for any service at the Expat Salon.

Moscow Expat Subbotnik was a great feast-day full of joy. “We were glad to share this Saturday with such positive and active volunteers and we very much hope that the Expat Subotnik will become an annual event in Moscow,” said Imanni Burg, an Expat Subbotnik organizer from MPC Social Services.