They might as well have been singing "It's a Small World after All."
Young vocalists from the Lawrence Children's Choir and the Moscow Boys Choir discovered Saturday afternoon that despite differences in geography, children in Russia do a lot of the same things as children in America.
Play soccer. Watch television. Dread homework.
And the mutual rush on the refreshment table revealed a cross-cultural hankering for cookies.
The exchange took place a few hours before the Moscow Boys Choir performed a concert of holiday songs from around the world at the Lied Center.
With the help of interpreters from Kansas University, members of the two choirs tossed questions back and forth, curious to learn about singers from another country.
One difference that surprised members of both groups was rehearsal schedules. The 74-member Lawrence choir practices for an hour and a half on Monday evenings. The Moscow choir rehearses nearly every day :quot; they take Sunday and Monday off :quot; for two to three hours at a time.
"I don't think I could do it," said Lawrence choir member Justine Ahle, 12.
Added 12-year-old Lindsay Gauthier: "I think my voice would get hoarse."
Lawrence was the seventh stop on the 34-member Moscow choir's 22-city U.S. tour.
Lindsay's mother, Gail Gauthier, listened as the Moscow choir's director talked about the trip.
"It's very exciting what these kids are doing and, as a parent, very scary," she said, referring to the children's extended stay away from their parents.
She wasn't the only one concerned. Some of the Russian children admitted they were a little homesick.
"They're kind of anxious to be done with it and go home," said Yana Grigortchouk, a KU graduate student from Petrozavodsk, Russia, and an interpreter on-hand for the exchange. "They're pretty sweet. (One of the boys) said he really kind of misses his mom and dad. He was sad because they just bought a computer and he had to leave. For many of them, it's their first time on such a long trip."
But they're having fun, too. Some of the boys told interpreters they liked Texas. Others preferred California, mostly because of the big palm trees.
It was next to impossible to tell the children apart unless you got close enough to hear them talk. And, of course, the girls were American.
The Lawrence Children's Choir was unable to perform for the Moscow group because its director, Janeal Krehbiel, was out of town and not everyone in the choir could attend the exchange. Instead, they played a CD for the Moscow vocalists. Then the Lawrence children got to sit in on the Moscow choir's dress rehearsal.
The Lawrence Children's Choir will have another international experience this spring, when it travels to England to sing at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.