субота, жовтня 29, 2005

not much going on here

No real news as far as I'm concerned, but my grandma came through surgery just fine, according to an email from my aunt.

The weather's beautiful...Celeste and I went for a lovely walk this afternoon through the park. It's brisk, but there's a sunny blue sky with no clouds. It almost makes me guilty that I'm inside checking my email...almost. ;)

Tanya, our LCF, left today. We were very sad, but we had a party last night, complete with card games and a wonderful game Celeste taught us. You write someone's name (either famous or known to the whole group) on a post-it note, stick it on the head of the person next to you, and then they have to ask yes or no questions to the entire group to determine who they are. It was a lot of fun. I was Neil Armstrong and Bill Cosby.

четвер, жовтня 27, 2005

site placement interview

I'm feeling better...thanks for your prayers, everyone!

My big news of the week is that I had a site placement interview yesterday, and it looks like there's a pretty good chance that I'll be working with elementary age students!!! I had thought that since I don't have a teaching degree, I'd automatically be put with the upper forms, but since I have quite a bit of experience working with younger kids, I may be an English teacher for as young as 2nd form, co-teaching with a Ukrainian teacher (since the kids won't be able to have an entire lesson solely in English). I won't know for sure until the middle of November, but I'm definitely hoping. You all know me and little kids... :)

Current prayer requests: my grandma's having surgery on Friday and that there will be a church community that I can be part of at my permanent site, as I'm very much missing that these days

вівторок, жовтня 25, 2005

weekend update

It was a good weekend, but I am exhausted! Saturday, we traveled to the village where our link is for a cross-cultural and tech session. We toured a museum of Ukrainian history, which was really neat. The village where we were had a festival that day, so I had the chance to hear a lot of folk music. (I have to admit, though, that my favorite was the very small girl with the very big voice belting out a rock version of "Little Red Riding Hood".)

Sunday, we went to Kyiv, which is an absolutely beautiful city. I loaded up on books from the Peace Corps office lending library. :) I also had letters from Mom (letter 2, by the way...I don't know what happened to #1) and Tina, which made me pretty happy.

This weekend, Kate and Marisa, a couple of current Volunteers who went through training here last year came to act as mentors for us. Kate lived with my family last year, so she stayed with us. Both of them gave us a lot of info about surviving training, being a volunteer, and everything else. Marisa is a Christian, and it was really nice to get a chance to talk with her about the Peace Corps, how it's affected her faith, and how she's been able to worship (she currently attends a Baptist church in her town, where she sings in the choir!).

The students have fall break this week, so I'm not teaching, but both the secondary school and the gymnasium requested that we come and do an extra-curricular activity with the kids, so we went to the gymnasium today, told the kids about ourselves, and played Uno and dominoes. It went over really well.

The downside of everything that's going on is that I'm really tired and not feeling well. Some of it's stuff I deal with on a fairly regular basis (cramps, backache, etc.), but I've also had stomach pains and nausea. With Kate and Marisa being here, we've tended to be a bit more social outside of class, which is good for my social and emotional health but taking a toll on me physically. So your prayers there would be much appreciated.

Also, my grandmother apparently broke her hip this past weekend, so please pray for her as well.

пʼятниця, жовтня 21, 2005

my first day as a teacher!

Story of the week: my first day teaching...

On Wednesday, I was supposed to do a warm-up activity with the 7th and 8th forms while Larysa, the Ukrainian teacher I work with, got some students started on their English olympiads, which are some sort of written test they take (maybe for scholarships?). She was supposed to be gone for 15 minutes and then would come back and teach for the rest of the 45-minute class period.

Well, both times she ended up busy and never came back, leaving me with a class of 10-13 students and only 15 minutes worth of activities. (For the record, when she did come back she was pretty apologetic...stuff had simply taken longer than expected.)

All things considered, it went remarkably well. I originally was going to ask the kids some questions about me (where did they think I was from, how many sisters/brothers/dogs I had, what did I study in college), show 5-6 photos of myself and my family and a map of Michigan and tell about myself, have them answer the questions again, and ask them how many sisters/brothers/dogs they had and what they liked to study. That got expanded into showing all my photos, discussing everyone's hobbies, singing "Yesterday" and "Old MacDonald" (multiple verses), and reviewing the questions about me at various points. I think I held their interest and I was able to keep discipline, so I'll count it a success.

I told the kids that they could ask me questions...the 7th form doesn't know much English, so all they asked was who my favorite film star is, but the 8th form asked me a bunch. Did I drive, did I have a boyfriend, did I like Ukraine, did I like America, who was my favorite pop star (!!!), and a bunch more I've forgotten.

As the 7th form was leaving, Yaroslava, who had told me the day before that I was pretty, came up to me and handed me a very small, pink teddy bear, saying, "For you."

I think I'm really going to like teaching.

вівторок, жовтня 18, 2005

rain, school, and remodeling

Mood: Very happy. Who would have thought that elation could come merely from checking email?
Stage Notes: In the local internet cafe, which is in the upstairs of the gym at the secondary school. There are a lot of young boys here who I'm sure should be in class...

Yesterday, Tanya/Tess, our LCF (language and cultural facilitator) was sick, so we only had a tech session, not language class. We made her a get-well card with...um...interesting self-portraits and purchased a box of chocolates. Then, not having language class, the five of us (me, Erin, Celeste, Chris, and Mike) decided to take a walk in the park...in the rain. We walked for an hour and a half and got rather lost at one point, but it was a lot of fun. When I got home, Mama Luda exclaimed over the state of my shoes, and I was glad that I didn't have the words to explain how they got that way, as she probably wouldn't have been pleased.

Today I observed the classes that I will be doing my internship with. I'll be working with 6b, 7b, and 8b. 7b and 8b are about 13 students each, while 6b is 24-26...and a little squirrely. They found me absolutely fascinating and kept swiveling their heads to look at me. Kids in all sections would come up to me and say, "Hello. What's your name?" One girl informed me that I was pretty. This sort of surprised me, as Ukrainian women are noted for being good-looking, and I neither dress nor look like them. Novelty has its charms, I suppose, although I don't remember new teachers at Lakeview ever getting this much attention.

We're remodeling the kitchen at my apartment this week. It seems to be a pretty major undertaking...the walls are being retiled and I've heard a rumor from Sasha that when it's done, we'll have hot water that we don't have to heat up. To which all I can say is "Yippee!"

неділя, жовтня 16, 2005

a lovely Sunday

We didn't go to church today, as the apartment kitchen is being remodeled. However, I felt a bit of cabin fever after reading Revelations and Chaim Potok's In the Beginning in my room all morning and took a walk through the park, which is big and full of trees and part of a 19th century estate that was taken over by the Communists. It's a wonderful park, and I walked until I decided that turning around and going back was a good idea, as I wasn't sure where I would end up nor how far away from home I would be. Then I sat by the lake in the middle of the park and sang hymns, and that was church for me today. Very nice.

And then I found a swing near one of the apartment buildings (for the record, I live in a dilapidated Soviet-era apartment building that's really quite cozy), and while it wasn't quite an East Lansing playground, it was close enough. On my way back home, some little kids called out "Hello! What's your name?" to me (I think it was pretty much all the English they knew), and we had a (very) short conversation. It was fun. I've been missing little kids, and these are the first I've had the chance to interact with since getting here.

Tonight my cluster (Erin, Celeste, Chris, and Mike, my fellow-sufferers in learning Ukrainian) is planning to hang out at Celeste's host family's apartment. I had dreams of being able to wash my hair tonight, but due to the aforementioned remodeling of the kitchen (there's a grate on the stove that connects to the kitchen sink and a hose that runs to the bathroom to provide hot water), I think that will have to wait until tomorrow night. At least I'm not hauling water half a mile to a hut like one of Celeste's friends who's a PCV in either South America or Africa!

субота, жовтня 15, 2005


Greetings, everyone! I am in Ukraine (have been for about two weeks, n0w, give or take a day), and I love it here. I currently am feeling rather swamped by 4-6 hours of language class per day, plus an internship at the local secondary school (I'll be working with the 6th, 7th, and 8th forms), plus living with a wonderful host family (my host brother speaks excellent English, but he's only home on the weekends...my host parents speak basically no English, so this whole communication thing gets challenging).

Things of interest in my new life:

*the food here is wonderful, and Mama Luda is constantly telling me to eat more...more than I could possibly ever eat. It's rather overwhelming.
*The local cafe is called the Telepluzia, or Teletubby Cafe. I am not making this up, nor could I if I tried! There are pictures of Teletubbies painted on the outside walls.
*I went to the Orthodox church here last week, only to be sent home partway through service. I almost hate to tell why, as it's a funny story and several of you are getting it in letter form, but basically it's because my host mother thought that I was cold, because she was cold, so she sent me home.
*Ukraine is beautiful. It reminds me of a slightly shabbier, wilder version of Michigan. There's a lake surrounded by trees not far from where I live, and I went there to sit the other morning while having my devotions.
*Washing laundry by hand, even socks and underwear. Not fun. My host mother apparently has some sort of washing machine for larger items, which makes me pretty happy.
*Learning languages by immersion is quite painful, but I really do think it's the way to go.
*I miss people a lot, but I'm very happy here.

пʼятниця, жовтня 14, 2005

She's Alive and Well!

We talked with Sally a bit earlier this aftenoon. She is doing well, but very tired from learning a new language, adjusting to a new culture, and learning about teaching. She said she could handle one, but three is a mite overwhelming. [Sorry...I have to edit this because the Peace Corps won't let me give out the name of where I am online] is where she lives, about 1 1/2 hrs. east of Kyiv. It has around 8000 people. She attended church last Sunday--an Orthodox one. She hopes to get to the Internet cafe located in her town soon, although people say the Internet connection is slow and unpredictable there. Please keep her in your prayers and thoughts. Sally's Mom

неділя, жовтня 02, 2005

Eat safe people.

The heading to my post comes from a discussion yesterday about rumors we had all heard about the Peace Corps. One person had heard of cannibalism (of PCVs, not by them), which made us all laugh, as it seems to be erroneous (erronious?). Later on, we were listing things we could do to be safe. Someone said, "Drink safe water," which was followed up by "Eat safe people." I will endeavor to do so. Assuming I eat people, which seems unlikely.

Staging continued today...lots more information, talking about expectations, apprehensions, our definitions of personal success, and health and safety issues. My favorite ice breaker was when we had to stand back-to-back with someone, change five things about our appearance, and then try and guess what had changed...three different times, all with the same person. By the last round, it was hard to think of things to do. I ended up with one sock on, no shoes, my skirt twisted around backwards, my hair in a braid, my necklace around my wrist, and the pockets on my blouse unbuttoned.

I continue to get to know people. I had lunch with a girl named Sheryl, whose books that she packed include C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man, Thomas A'Kempis's The Imitation of Christ, and Oswald Chambers's My Utmost for His Highest. This makes me incredibly happy. We had a lovely conversation over lunch, all about books and church and growing up in Silicon Valley vs. Lakeview. Melissa, my roommate, likes 19th century Brit lit, so I will have multiple people to swap books with. A group of eight of us went out for Indian food tonight, which was a chance to visit with people for quite a while, as we were there for about two hours (much of it spent waiting for things).

Also tonight, I went used book shopping. Yes, I am incorrigible, but the Peace Corps gave us $160 to cover weekend expenses, and I had room in my luggage. (I'm 18 lbs. under the limit, which has many people asking me how I accomplished that. For $13, I now have copies of Jane Eyre, Aesop's Fables, Crime and Punishment, and Under the Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. I've read (and own) the first three, but they were cheap and I can leave them in Ukraine when I come back to the US. I'm hoping to use the Aesop in my classes, since they're short enough to read easily.

Tomorrow, we fly to Kyiv via Frankfurt, getting there about noon Ukraine time on Monday. Then we're at a training center (whatever the Ukrainian word for "snowdrop" is) in a forest (??? Hansel and Gretel moment here...) for two days, leaving to go with our host families on the 6th. I don't expect to have Internet until next weekend at the absolute earliest, so this will be it for a while. As always, keep me in your prayers. It's been a great weekend so far, and I'm excited for the next part!

субота, жовтня 01, 2005


Well, I'm in Chicago for Staging, and the lovely part of it all is that the hotel has a computer lab. :) Yay Internet.

This morning, Mom, Dad, Kate, Aunt Rebecca, Jason, and Amy all saw me off at the airport, complete with gifts of sidewalk chalk (which apparently is for teaching, not for covering Chicago in graffitti...boo), chocolate chip cookies, CDs, letters, and homemade granola. After a very short flight from GR to Chicago, I met up with Lily, a friend of mine who lives here, and she and I hung out until I had to go to orientation (she also bought me lunch--Chicago-style pizza--while I was stuck in line to do paperwork...I have such wonderful friends!).

Staging reminds me of freshman orientation for college...lots of info, cheesy icebreakers, and exchanging names, locations, and majors with 115 other people. Interestingly enough, I've met one guy who went to high school with my freshman year roommate from MSU (and who informed me that U of M was a much better school than MSU). Small, small world.

I've gotten to know a few people so far...I went to dinner with Tifanni (went to Notre Dame) and Abby (UMass), two other girls my age, which was fun. We went to a place called the Rock Bottom Brewery, which gave you a lot of food for your money, much more than we could eat. My roommate, Melissa, grew up as an army kid in Germany and England, then came back to the States and went to college at Messiah, a small Christian college in PA, and then went back to London for grad school. She grew up in Nazarene and Methodist churches and knows someone who knows someone who's a Nazarene missionary in Kyiv. Very cool and encouraging.

I'm glad I'm here. While some of the sessions are a little long, it's interesting information, although most of it so far has been fairly general and not Ukraine-specific. We talked about sustainable development today, and how it's better to teach someone how to do something than to do it for them, even though it may take longer initially. The example given was that instead of always telling a student the definition of a word, you should teach them how to use the dictionary. Since this was standard operating procedure at my house growing up, I understood. :)