середа, травня 16, 2007

the life of a substitute teacher...yes, me, not my parents

No real updates on Andrei...the kids at school told me he's doing a little better and is going to live, but what I could understand of the conversation in the teachers' room today seemed a lot less hopeful, both for his chances and then for what condition he'll be in if he makes it.

I'm spending this week and next week as a substitute teacher for Olha Ivanivna, who had to go to Kharkiv for teacher training. This is a challenge, because not only am I substituting, it's also right at the end of the school year and I have to give the year-end exams. Which I also have to write. For students I don't teach, which means I don't really have a good idea of what they've covered or the level they're at. I also got the fun job of giving the sixth forms English tests from the Ukrainian Ministry of Education...they're experimenting with standardized testing. Yesterday was grammar, which almost everyone flat-out bombed. Out of 25 tests or so, on a 1-12 scale, I had an 8.5, two 6s, a 4.25...and everyone else was lower. I feel bad for the kids...the material wasn't new, but it involved a format that we haven't really worked with and often they had to choose what tense to put a verb in rather than just being told which tense. Some of the girls wanted to know their grades, so I told them. Fortunately, there were no tears (which I half expected), and they don't seem to be blaming me. :)

After a year and a half of being the only American (or native English speaker, for that matter) in my rayon, another PCV is coming to Balaklia to work at a non-profit organization in town. His name is Robert, and he's 46 and was previously a PCV in Namibia. He's coming for site visit tomorrow through Sunday and then moving here in late June. He sounds like he'll be interesting to get to know. Also, another small town about 30-40 minutes towards Kharkiv from me is getting a youth development volunteer, and my friend Mike is also getting a YD PCV in his town (yes, Tif, School #2 finally caved in). So there'll be 3 new PCVs within an hour of me. Wow. It's gonna get crowded! :)

Funny moment from the 6B class I'm subbing for today: Today they had to translate a page of text about the USA into Ukrainian as a year-end test. One girl wanted to know how to say "second" in Ukrainian. Once she figured out what it was, she said, "Oh, second hand!" Used clothing stores are known as "секондь хенд", or "second hand" here, and they're sort of looked down on here. Then she asked me, "Miss Sally, do you go to the second hand stores?" The majority of my clothes are used (from such diverse sources as Nadia, Tif, the PC office, and the infamous second hand stores, which I love), and today's outfit, a light pink sweater and a knee-length denim skirt with front pleats, was from Nadia and the PC office. So I said, "Yes, and what I'm wearing is second-hand" (granted, not from the store, but still used). The kids all stopped, looked at me, and one of the girls said, "Well, it sure doesn't look like it!"

Really, I think the prejudice against used clothes here is silly. According to Guisella Kotlar (who has a new baby, Raphael!), "everyone shops there but no one admits it." I like the used clothes shops here because I can find more Western-style clothing that's better quality for the fraction of the price I'd pay at the bazaar. Plus, they sometimes have English books!

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