Sunday night at around 9 p.m. he was returning home when he was attacked at knifepoint by two teenage boys as he left the metro station near his home in central Moscow.
They wanted his ipod.
Luckily he wasn't harmed at all! He also managed to find policemen -- WHO ACTUALLY HELPED HIM, actually chasing and apprehending the attackers.
So why has he missed three full days of school?
That's how long it takes to file the police reports and appear in court! In a city famous for bureaucracy and lengthy delays, this trial is proceeding at lightening speed. If found guilty, the attackers could be sent to jail for ten years.
The boys, it turns out, are from families more affluent than my student's... Somehow their parents tracked down the home number of my student's mom and are trying to arrange to meet her privately... Undoubtedly they'll try to bribe her to get her son to recant his testimony.
Or she could be in real danger if they've also figured out where she and her son live.
So not only was he attacked, but now his life has been turned upside down for all this legal hoopla he can't escape! He has no lawyer, but the boys' defense attorney is trying to pin the crime on him -- twisting facts to claim that he had actually tried to attack them.
My student's head is spinning from being tossed into this nonsensical and scary world.
Much less importantly, he has missed our entire week of classes -- during which I've been cramming their heads full of preparation for a major standardized test (think the SAT for students of English) they will take in one month!
The other seniors have been upset by his absence... and then one other student in our tiny class was almost mugged last night! Yet again, the police actually came to the rescue! A cop actually witnessed the attempted crime and came to my student's defense.
I am really thankful to hear these good things about the Russian police... Not everything is bad news...
It didn't all end there, though...
Today my students in various grades were also upset to learn about a teenage girl who was murdered in St. Petersburg and then EATEN by others who were goths/emos.
Unfortunately, lesson plans I had prepared for some classes(and presented before learning about the grisly news), included a heartfelt discussion about how organ donation is regarded in America -- about how teens consider the question when they get their drivers' licenses at age 16. I started off the class by passing around my license and having them scrutinize it for anything that seemed different from their parents' licenses. Inevitably, someone in each class noticed the heart and asked about it. (They initially thought it meant I'm married!)
I then had them listen to a wonderful essay that was part of Story Corps on NPR, an interview with a pediatrician that I highly recommend you hear...
We had some fantastic class discussions about it, though... Organ donation is NOT discussed here; most people are "creeped out" by it and wouldn't consider it. After our discussions, though, I think some of my students will keep the idea of it -- and the possibility of it in the face of tragedy -- in their hearts.