What a beautiful, sensible speech - you just have to watch this. This is how to raise children.
Click here for a Russian version of this article.
"It is such a wonderful thing to be part of a big, multi-child, homeschooling family, especially as an Orthodox Christian. Personally, I cannot imagine a better life."
Sometimes in the course of everyday life, something absolutely brilliant and beautiful happens, and you just have to sit there and marvel. This speech by a 19 year old American woman in Sochi, Russia, was one of those times.
Video translated thanks to Orthodox volunteers around the world. To help out, and for more info click here.
Kimberly Gleason is the 19 year old daughter of Fr. Joseph Gleason, an American Christian Orthodox priest who received a lot of media attention both inside and outside Russia when he moved his family of 10 to rural Russia 6 years ago.
For an excellent Russian TV news video segment about the Gleasons, and other Orthodox Christian Americans who have moved to Russia, see here. Fr. Joseph publishes a substack blog entitled 'Moving to Russia', and is a regular contributor to this site.
The home-schooled Gleason children have never seen the inside of a classroom. Kimberly wrote this speech herself, in Russian, a language she didn't speak a word of before moving, and then delivered it with great poise to a conference in October with important representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church present.
It contains more wisdom and common sense about how to build a meaningful life than what most adults could muster.
Please watch this video. You'll be thankful you did.
At the end of speech, she sings a traditional Russian Christian song with some of her brothers and sisters.
Her speech was one of the most popular at the conference.
Full English transcript follows:
...My wife Irina was supposed to be giving birth to our fifth child just today. We even wanted to make a direct transmission from the reproductive center of the Sochi maternity hospital, but it was postponed for a few days and so unfortunately it did not work out. But this is really a very important topic.
Our last speaker is Kimberly Gleason. She came here from the United States six years ago, and she speaks Russian very well. And after that there will be a picture of everyone. Vladyka has blessed us all to gather here, so please come before the coffee break and we will take a picture. Kimberly is 19 years old, she writes articles, she is a musician, a poet, and she loves Russia.
Greetings! Nearly six years ago, when I was 13, my family and I left America and moved to Russia, settling in Rostov the Great. Now I am 19, and I am a Russian citizen.
We did not move so that my father could have a better job, or so that we could go to a better school. In fact, my father made much more money in America. And we have been homeschooled all our lives, so we have never been looking for better schools. We moved because America is destroying Christian values and traditional families through homosexual "marriage", transgenderism, feminism, and materialism.
We chose Russia because the Church is growing here, traditional families are protected here, and many people are remembering their roots in Holy Rus'. We are able to practice our Christian faith here without fear of being taken away from our family because of it.
Because we homeschool, we have time to devote ourselves to life’s main goal — serving the Kingdom of God. Every morning, together with my seven brothers and sisters, we get up and get dressed, and then we gather together with our parents in front of our icon corner to start the day with prayer. We pray for our family and friends, both those who are alive and those who have reposed, and then we sit together and read from the writings of the saints, and the Epistle and Gospel readings for the day. We end our prayer time with a hymn, and then work together putting breakfast on the table. During breakfast we listen to the lives of the saints and a reflection and homily by St. Nikolai Velimirovich. It really helps start out the day right.
After breakfast, some of us wash the the dishes, while others go outside to take care of the animals. My 16-year-old sister takes care of the cow, who has adopted her as her "mom". My 11-year-old sister and I take care of our sweet goats, and my 15-year-old brother takes care of our chickens and guineas. Then throughout the day we study, do our chores, talk, play, and spend time together.
Before lunch we pray noon prayers, and during mealtimes we talk about almost anything, whether that’s just about how the day’s been going, or about physics, mathematics, theology, linguistics, animals, or anything else. Before bed, we pray evening prayers together, ask each other’s forgiveness, and tell each other goodnight.
Often my siblings and I sing together or have deep discussions while doing dishes (or wherever we happen to be working). We also laugh a lot, and have a lot of fun together. We are all interested in different things, so we have an interesting time learning and talking about all sorts of different things, including baking, bird species, woodcarving, and medieval history. In the summer we go swimming and berry-picking, and in the winter we have snowball fights and go skiing or sledding together.
When you are in a big family with many children, there’s never any reason to be lonely, because you’re surrounded by people who love you and whom you love.
All of these things make me love being part of a big family. They make me want to have many of my own children someday, who can be each other’s friends the way my siblings and I are.
People think that to make something of yourself, to do something good for humanity, you have to fight to get an education, get a career, and keep competing with other people until you get to the "top", so that you’ll be able to "make a difference". But really, the people making the biggest difference in this world, the people doing the most good for humanity, are the people like my father and mother, who are sacrificing themselves and doing all they can to raise their children to be godly, faithful servants of the Kingdom of God.
On my own, I can only follow one career, or maybe a few, and make a difference in a small part of the world. But if I raise my children to be godly Orthodox Christians and to raise their children in the same way, then I am influencing generations of doctors, scientists, politicians, teachers, fathers, and mothers to live according to God’s commandments in every area of life.
Every precious baby God gives me is a wonderful miracle, a beautiful new image of God that He is entrusting to me, so that I can prepare him to show God’s light to the world and to be ready for an eternity in Heaven. I can think of no greater honor, and no greater glory, than this job that God gives fathers and mothers. That is why, if the Lord blesses, I want to dedicate my life to being a godly wife and mother.
People I’m meeting for the first time often ask me, "What do you want to be?" "What university do you want to attend?" And they’re almost always surprised by my answer.
You see, I don’t want to go to a university. There are many bad influences there, and many things that are dangerous to a person who wants to keep their faith.
"But don’t you want to get an education?" people might ask.
Of course I want to get an education. But I don’t need the university for that. I can learn everything I want to learn at home. When I want to study theology and learn more about the spiritual life, all I have to do is go to the shelf and read the writings of the saints. I read St. John Chrysostom’s homilies, the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse, and many other Church Fathers on my own at home. I don’t need the university to grow in the faith.
I’m very interested in learning languages. I love learning the different ways of thinking in different languages, and exploring the connections between words as well as their histories. But I don’t need the university for that either. I currently speak English, Russian, and Portuguese, and I have started learning Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, all without leaving home. I translate articles for various websites, and I also help interpret for many of the foreign families that are moving here.
I teach English online over Zoom. Even though I’m only 19 years old, and even though I only work about 10 to 12 hours per week, I am already earning over 40,000 rubles a month. I could easily double or triple my income if I chose to work full time. All of this is possible without setting foot in a university.
I have many other opportunities as well. I have learned to play the guitar, piano, and mandolin. My grandmother taught me to crochet, and ever since then I have continued teaching myself new stitches and practicing by making presents for my friends and family.
I get to spend much of my time with my favorite animals — our goats — and I am continually learning more about their nutritional needs, the shelter they need, and all the special characteristics that God created these animals with.
We have a large, beautiful garden, and I have been privileged to spend some time this summer with my family working to grow delicious, healthy food. It’s like a small taste of Paradise, doing the work that God created us to do in the very beginning, even before death entered the world.
My father has also taught me some things about using computers and technology. I have helped several times with transcribing and subtitling videos, loading articles onto websites, and translating articles from Russian into English.
Some people look at me like I’m from another planet, surprised that I don’t want to get a degree so that I can have a career. In response, I simply tell them that my chosen career is to become a wife and mother of many children.
It is such a wonderful thing to be part of a big, multi-child, homeschooling family, especially as an Orthodox Christian. Personally, I cannot imagine a better life.
Words of the Russian song the Gleason children sing:
Oh you doves, oh you white ones!
We are not doves, we are not white.
We are angels, guardians,
We are the protectors of righteous souls.
We are the protectors of righteous souls,
And we are the saviors of sinful souls.
We have flown through the air,
We have seen a marvelous miracle.
We have seen how a soul parted from the body,
Parted from the body, and said farewell to it.
"Farewell my body, farewell my white body."
"You must go, my body, into the damp earth."
"You must go, my body, into the wet ground."
"And I, the soul, must go to the righteous judgment."