четвер, березня 30, 2006

the Holiness Movement

These links are for Mom, but anyone else who wants to can read them. :)


By the time I sleep tonight, I will have been in 5 different communities in a day and a half!

I've been on the move the last day and a half. Yesterday, I helped Tifanni move into her new house (she hopes it's temporary, as it has an outhouse, an outdoor shower, and the running water has been frozen all winter). Still, it was a cute house (half a house, actually, as Baba ["grandma"] Claudia lives in the other half, rather like the Ukrainian version of a duplex) and it made me want my own place soon. Baba Claud, for whatever reason, decided that even though she speaks Russian, she could understand my Ukrainian better than Tif's Russian and spoke mostly to me, wanting me to translate so Tif could understand her. As Tif was understanding just as much as I was, I just told her random stuff so Baba Claud was kept happy thinking that I was translating. :)

Then I caught the elektrishka to Kharkiv, and took the overnight train to Kyiv. Spent the day in Kyiv acquiring books from Peace Corps, the Thomases, and the English language library at Kyiv-Mohila Academy. Yay for new books. And soon, I'm off to Zgurivka to go visit Mama Luda, Tato Kola, and Sasha. There's no place like (sort of) home for spring break.

вівторок, березня 28, 2006


To everyone who my last post confused: it's straightened out now. But please put your name on your texts!

I WENT TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY!!! (For any new readers of this blog, "Sally's continuing mission to find a church family in Ukraine" has been a recurring theme.) It's called Calvary Chapel, and it's a small congregation of 20-40 people in Kharkiv. It's heavily college-aged and international--I met people from the US, Ukraine, Africa, Ireland, and England. The pastor and his wife are a year or so older than I am and have two adorable little kids. The preaching style is expositional rather than topical--Steven, the pastor, is preaching through the Bible chapter by chapter. Currently, we're near the end of Genesis. The music is in Ukrainian and Russian (although it's a lot of worship songs I know from the States, just translated) and the preaching is in English with Russian translation. Church got out at 3:30, and I made a mad dash, complete with running, two different metro lines, and buying a train ticket, to catch the 4pm train home instead of the 5:30. I made it with 6 minutes to spare!

Spring break has been wonderful...ie, I haven't done much. Read a great deal of Orson Scott Card and tried to figure out how much his Mormonism influences his writing (conclusion: a lot), plus decided that everything he wrote besides Ender's Game was fairly mediocre. Brandi, please feel free to comment. :) I leave for Zgurivka tomorrow evening, where I know I will be well-fed and well-loved.

FYI, all my clothes are getting miles too big for me, thanks to walking 20-25 minutes to school and the same distance home twice a day. I haven't lost weight like this since I house-sat two miles away from campus fall semester of my junior year. It's good, but hard on the warderobe.

субота, березня 25, 2006

um, I'm confused...

To the wonderful person from the US (and I mean this with no sarcasm) who sent me a text message via the Internet at 4:15 this morning:

Honestly, that was a good text message to be woken up by...I can't think of better news! I'm excited! But, um, you forgot to mention who you were, so I don't know who to email for more details. I assume you're from Riverview, due to content. I assume you're female because of the way it read (and because I think Alan and Gary are the only Riv guys who have my number to send texts to, and it didn't read like either of them wrote it). I'm leaning towards Christine or Amy Drip, with the possibility of Liz or Toni, but please send me another text message telling me who you were!

And, since this was second-hand news, can you please ask the person it's about to also contact me? :)

[My apologies to everyone this just confused, ie everyone except who texted me in the first place. But it's the best way of getting ahold of an unknown person that I can think of.]

пʼятниця, березня 24, 2006

true confessions

Okay, I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but I kept forgetting...I've become hooked on a TV show. And one that's Russian with Ukrainian subtitles, at that!

It's called "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" or "Beauty is Not Everything," and it follows the adventures, trials, and tribulations of Katya Pushkarinova, a less-than-attractive but oh-so-intelligent secretary at Zimaletto, a fashion company in Moscow. It's good for my languages, plus it's actually pretty funny.


Just thought you all might be amused.

woo hoo, spring break!

The title says it all. My spring break starts today! I went to school today, but didn't end up teaching any classes, since Nelya wanted to review grammar tenses with the 9th form, I don't teach 2nd and 3rd periods on Fridays, my 5th form was drafted to help their homeroom teacher clean her classroom, and we were going to be dismissed after 4th period anyhow. So I hung out in the teachers' workroom and read my students' pen pal letters to America, which I edited only for spelling and grammar, not for content! (Favorite line, from a 10th form boy in answer to a question about legal drinking age: "The legal age for drinking and smoking is 18. But that doesn't stop us!")

FYI, this also means that the one father didn't end up coming to school today. I still feel bad about the situation, but that's how it is, and you can't please everyone.

It's finally spring here, although there was a bit of snow and wind this morning. I celebrated spring/spring break by stopping by the bakery on the way home and trying a new snack. It was an ice cream cone filled with caramel and nuts with chocolate frosting on top. Not bad, but I wouldn't get it again...just too sweet!

Mom, Devon, Tina, and Tara: Thanks for the text messages!

Meg: What's STL?

Brad and Megan: No, they have one first name, one patronymic (the father's name with either -vitch or -ivna added on, depending on gender), and one last name. But most adults go by their first name and patronymic in social and business settings rather than "Mr." or "Mrs." For instance, my co-teacher is referred to as Nelya Ivanivna rather than Mrs. Vasylevna. However, I go by "Miss Sally" rather than "Sally Charlesivna"...although I thought about it!

вівторок, березня 21, 2006

I taught James Bond today

Apparently I shouldn't wish for parental involvement.

One of the families at my school is a very conservative, Orthodox family--there are six kids in all. Three are school-age--2nd, 4th, and 8th forms. Great kids, all of them. You can tell that the parents care about their behavior and their schoolwork. But...apparently it's also a family where the father wants the kids to learn by traditional methods, ie when you learn a foreign language, you memorize lists of words every night, rather than focus on ways of using the ones you know to communicate. And so he's decided to remove Natasha, the 8th former, to the other section of the 8th form, where she'll be using the traditional, Ukrainian-made textbooks (that incidentally are chock-full of errors) rather than the British ones that I teach from. He's also coming in to observe the 4th form on Friday, which is the day before spring break.

It could be worse. He could be observing the 3rd form, which broke out in fist fights and name calling yesterday.

I realize that he wants what he thinks is best for his daughter. I realize that books with no Ukrainian or Russian in them may be intimidating to a parent who wants to help with their children's homework. But I'm still sad that one of the best-behaved, hardest-working students I have won't be in my class anymore.


Random moment from yesterday:

6th form boy I don't teach: Miss Sally, do you like Jesus?
Me, after processing the accent and doing a double-take at the question: Yes, very much.
[conversation ends]

Do you ever want to just see inside a kid's mind?


Nelya was gone this morning, so I was a subsitute teacher for her two 7th form classes. The first one treated me as most classes do with subs--the girls were well-behaved and the boys slacked off and threw a wad of gum at me. The second one was actually pretty good, plus one of the boys said his name is James Bond, and so we all called him that all class. :)


Other randomness:

~Tif and I had a Pride and Prejudice party on Saturday, complete with junk food.
~The junk food doesn't seem to make any difference with the fact that all my clothes are getting too big. I don't know whether I'm losing weight or if it's due to hand-washing everything.
~I think I'm going to Calvary Chapel in Kharkiv on Sunday for church!
~Next week is spring break, and I'm going to Zgurivka to visit the Malkos. Yay!

четвер, березня 16, 2006

schoolish thoughts

Apparently, I make children cry. Or, at least, one child. Although the other teachers at school tell me he cries in their classes too...

But I'll back up. On Tuesday, my 8th form had to write a control--sort of like a midterm. I've given three of these lately, and they're downright depressing. I'm not sure if I just can't teach so that they understand, or if I'm battling against an education system that's still in the process of revamping itself. So I pass out the papers, and after about five minutes, I look over to see Ihor, the weakest student in the class, with his head buried in his hands, crying. I offered to try and help him, but he refused and gave me a blank paper. After a while, he took it back, wrote four correct answers (out of 20), then used white-out to erase them, and handed the paper back in. Depressing for a teacher. Also, only four students out of 15 or so got above 50% on the test.

Clearly, I have job security.


After school today, I had a meeting with my director and Nelya to discuss what an ideal version of our school would be like. I am not sure if I know, but I'm supposed to come up with some ideas tonight. They brought up issues I've been noticing...after 8th or 9th form, our top students leave to go to the local lyceum or pedagogical college, leaving the less-motivated ones at our school. There's also low parental involvement, which they'd like to see change.

I don't know how to motivate an entire school. But a batch of pen pal letters showed up from Ms. Anderson's International Relations class at Lakeview High School (my old school, and I consider Ms. Anderson at least partially responsible for getting me interested in the world beyond the US), and my 9th and 10th forms are very excited. I told them about the letters today, in hopes of good attendance tomorrow and Tuesday, when I'll pass them out, and they looked more excited than I've ever seen them.

And my 2nd form girls make me smile. There are four of them, and they each helped me (belatedly) celebrate my birthday--two gave me paper cats, one gave me a jewelry box, and one sang "Happy Birthday" to me in English, all by herself.


I think I have an apartment lined up now, starting on the 10th of April (once the previous owner moves out and some repairs are made). It's one room plus a kitchen and bathroom, and it's near the Palace of Culture (US community center). I'm not sure if I actually get to see it before I move in, though...

понеділок, березня 13, 2006

teaching quote of the day

"The truth is that I am enslaved... in one vast love affair with 70 children."

~Sylvia Ashton-Warner

Ashton-Warner, by the way, was an interesting woman. She taught Maori children in New Zealand to read by realizing that they would be more interested in learning to read the words that THEY wanted to know, rather than those in American primers. I recommend her book "Teacher" for anyone interested in elementary bilingual education.


And, because I forgot to mention it in my last post, there is now a school in Ukraine where the students think Amelia Earhart is pretty cool. We talked about her, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rachel Carson last week for Internat'l Women's Day, but Earhart was by far the most popular.

birthday stories, teaching tales, and why I shouldn't have listened in Sunday School

My birthday celebrations continue...

On Friday, I had a birthday party with Marina (my host mom), her friend Valya, Nelya (my coordinator), Oksana Yaroslavivna (my director), and Luba (my host mom from my week-long visit back in November). It was rather like having a party with the Ukrainian version of the Red Hat Club. They all wished me health, wealth, and a handsome boyfriend, and then we all danced in the middle of the cafe. (My friend Teresa: "I love middle-aged women. I'm going to be one someday!") Then we went to a school dance at my school, where we all decided very quickly that we were too old for all the noise and hung out in the teachers' workroom. Except Valya, who ended up doctoring one of my ninth form girls who apparently threw up due to excessive alcohol consumption.

Saturday: went into Kharkiv and had lunch with Mike, Teresa, and Julianne at a cafe...afterwards, we ran into Nate and Sheila, so we went to the Irish Pub. Everyone else had their alcoholic beverage of choice and I had some rather tasty chocolate ice cream. Teresa gave me a gorgeous cashmere/silk blend scarf in shades of red and pink. I wore it to school today. :)

Sunday: a package from Mama Luda (my host mom from training) arrived in the mail...a bath towel, an umbrella, and a Snickers bar; plus a birthday card and little Bible verse cards from Shelly, a PCV friend near Lviv. I'm still waiting for my parents' present (which should arrive this week), so my birthday keeps going.

Teaching notes: it's Control week (sort of like mid-terms), so I have the joy of writing and administering tests. Not sure which is more depressing, the amount of notebooks I took away from the 9th formers peeking in them or the glimpse I caught of the tests as they handed them in.

Olia, one of my 5th formers, was not happy when she got her test back last Friday and walked out muttering in Ukrainian, "I don't like English." She's a sweetie, and when the co-teacher and I asked her why, she said that she didn't like learning new words. But today, apparently life was better, and she told me, "I like English!" (in Ukrainian) as she left.

I know too many Sunday School songs. At least, I know too many that come to mind with the specific grammatical construction I want to teach my students, and then I have to rewrite them to make them school-appropriate. Dad, be proud of my rewrites. :)


I'm gonna sing, sing, sing
I'm gonna shout, shout, shout
I'm gonna sing, I'm gonna shout
Praise the Lord!
When those gates swing open wide
I'll be sittin' at Jesus' side
I'm gonna sing, I'm gonna shout
Praise the Lord!

Modified version (used to teach "going to" as future tense"):

I'm going to sing, sing, sing
I'm going to shout, shout, shout
I'm going to sing, I'm going to shout
When my lessons will be done
I'll be having lots of fun
I'm going to sing, I'm going to shout

I feel I've done the original a disservice. But I can't see it being approved by Peace Corps... :)

четвер, березня 09, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!

Well, I'm 23 now...actually, because of the time zone thing, I don't officially turn 23 until 8 pm tonight, Ukraine time. The celebrations started at 8am with me getting a text message from my Ukrainian tutor wishing me a good birthday, as well as health, wealth, love, etc. When I stopped by the post office before school, I found a package from Liz, complete with a new book. :) All my classes at school sang "Happy Birthday" to me in English, and on break, all of the teachers gathered in the staff room for tea and cake. They gave me carnations and a set of cups and saucers, so I'll be able to have guests when I get my own apartment (this item is also a prayer request, as it's sounding as if apartments may be a bit tricky to come by...). Tomorrow, I'm going out to a cafe with what I privately think of as the Ukrainian version of the Red Hat Club, several middle-aged women who seem to be the people I know best here. And on Saturday, I'm hanging out with some PCV friends in Kharkiv.

Other exciting news of the day: it looks like Tif isn't going back to the US after all, but instead will be returning to her site in a couple of weeks, complete with back brace! Yay!

Yesterday was Internat'l Women's Day...sort of like Mother's Day in the US, but for all women (which I like, as I am no one's mother). Marina gave me a chocolate bar and I made her pizza from scratch. On Sunday we're going to have a pizza-making lesson, since she liked it.

Educational-ish thoughts: how do you make students learn a foreign language who have no real motivation for needing to know it nor any great love of learning for learning's sake? This situation describes many of my older students, who aren't planning on careers connected with English and are used to sort of drifting through lessons. Combine this with an educational system that doesn't focus on creativity as much as rote memorization, and teaching communicative English is tricky. Something I've been pondering lately...

неділя, березня 05, 2006


Apparently Internet is a lot cheaper today than it normally is here at the post office...as in half the usual cost. Unfortunately, my language wasn't good enough to figure out why.

I've just come from a festival to celebrate the arrival of spring, which leads me to think that I live in a highly optomistic country, as there is still quite a bit of snow. The festival consisted of a tug-of-war between two teams of children signifying winter and spring (I believe winter won), pancakes, and elderly women in traditional dress singing. This is my third community event this week: Sunday was the folk music concert, and on Wednesday there was an awards ceremony for people of the year. My director (principal) was one of the people of the year, so most of us teachers went. I personally felt that the most deserving individual was the guy who drives the snowplow. :) I was also quite taken with the recorded instrumental music in the background, which included jazz, the theme to Phantom of the Opera, and "Hail to the Chief".

Update on Tifanni: she was able to stand up yesterday and take a shower. It looks like she's going to be in the US for at least a month recovering, probably at her parents' house. The doctors have been pleased with her progress, so that's an answer to prayer. I'm going to miss her like crazy, but she's promised to bring back various US goodies for us all. :)

Teaching is going well...I can't think of any new stories to share right now.

A quote I read this week and liked: "A children's book that has lasted fifty years has magic in it that will never cease to enchant. This is not always true of adult books; it may take a century for grownups to admit that a book famed for stylistic experiment or boldness of plot is really a bore. Children sniff out literary frauds more swiftly, for they read not to impress or kill time or to fall asleep but for the sheer joy of reading." ~Philip Zaleski in the Forward to The Best American Spiritual Writing (2005 edition)