Настія (Nastya) is ten years old and is (surprisingly) grouped with the malankas. The thing is, she has clearly outgrown this age group as she is often babysitting the smallest ones (i.e., Olya, Irka). She spends the rest of her time trying to keep up with the second group of girls. The only reasoning I have seen for considering Nastya a 'malanka' is that she sleeps in the same bedroom. (The 'malanka' bedroom is the largest, and has ten beds in it. The rest of the bedrooms, which the older girls share, only have four beds.)
Nastya also functions at a much higher level in comparison to the other malankas. She does not have any obvious delays, disabilities, or handicaps that we know of. She has excellent communication skills (despite sometimes using her words to aggravate us with a snarky tone!). She is clearly very bright, but unfortunately, the Internat structure does not offer any formal education or any other outlet to channel this energy.
While Nastya doesn't fit with the malankas, she doesn't quite fit in yet with the second (read: next oldest) group of girls either. My guess is that this is because most of the girls in this class are between 11 and 13, and Nastya is a very 'young' ten. She's almost there, but not quite... as if she is hovering between the two groups until she figures out the best way to fit in with the others. She's just trying to keep up. I think this aawkwardness explains the split in her behaviours - often she acts out, sassily sticking out her tongue or mouthing off, generally obnoxious. The rest of the time she behaves more appropriately: happy, energetic (and especially eager to ham it up if she sees a camera). Like all of the girls, Nastya is in dire need of positive attention and someone to nurture her. And because of these circumstances, any attention - even if it is negative - is still considered better than recieving no attention at all.
Nastya is tough, maybe from being bounced around between age groups and not having a sense of security. She has an attitude. She is fiesty. She has become so much friendlier since our first few visits, and enjoys being involved in any sort of activity. Nastya especially loved the picture frame project that we did last week (craft supplies courtesy of my Auntie Cheryl back home, much thanks!).