Ms.Kaegi: русская учительница

John Seed, known as the Father, preaching to his followers. Photo Credit: Chloee Toro

By Christian Sosa ’20

Freshmen and sophomores may not know much about this Russian teacher for juniors and seniors and what kind of person she is. She is a really nice and interesting person. Some people would describe her as patient, optimistic, and a perfectionist.

Rebecca Kaegi, a Russian teacher for juniors and seniors, first decided to study German when she was a freshman in college at Northwestern in 1989, but she  felt like trying something new, something different, something that was not common. This led Kaegi to start learning Russian and study it for four years. Kaegi went on a foreign study program for the summer in a Russian city named Sochi which is located in the far south part of Russia.  

Kaegi has a degree in journalism and she attended  grad school in Indiana. During her second year there, she started teaching freshmen (as a graduate assistant), but she didn’t like the linguistics as much as she liked teaching. Eventually she  got a job  teaching  Russian history, which led her to move to Chicago to teach Russian history to sixth and seventh graders, which she ended up doing  for eight years.

Kaegi’s funniest experience in Russia was when she and her husband had just gotten engaged and they bought a samovar (a tea holder), which is a symbol of a Russian home and hospitality. Kaegi planned on bringing the samovar to America, but the problem was that samovars are considered art pieces in Russia and you aren’t allowed to take them out of the country.

She had to smuggle it out on a night train to Lithuania.  Some border guards told her she didn’t have the right visa, but in reality, they were just trying to shake her down for money. Kaegi was told that she had to pay them $180 in order to be let go, but they first asked what her occupation was and she said, “I teach middle school.” Then the guards gave her a teacher discount, and she only had to pay $150, and now she has a samovar.

The worst experience Kaegi had in Russia was when she was trying to get on a plane to leave Russia and there was a strike at the airport which led to her having to wait about two days before being able to leave.

Nobody in Kaegi’s family speaks Russian, except her husband.