середа, жовтня 31, 2007

cooking is fun

Discovered while reading over Sean's shoulder at the office: a blog devoted to Soviet propaganda posters!

Last night, the five of us in our apartment (me, Erin, Jessica, Robert, and Matt) went on a shopping trip to a HUGE western-style supermarket to buy fixings for dinner. It was quite the experience, whether running around looking for the best deals on Parmesan-esque cheese, trying to decide between chicken vs. shrimp, and the ongoing discussion about whether or not olive oil was worth the exorbitant price that was charged. (We decided against it, which made the cheapskate in me happy. And I still don't think our food was lacking in any way.)

So then we came home and cooked. We did a big pot of vermicelli, and I made sauce--sauteed onions and garlic in butter, then added tomato paste, a little water, and Italian herbs, and chopped tomatoes. At the very end, after that had all simmered, we added in a small container of shrimp (the amount of which were very "shrimpy" in comparison with our huge amounts of pasta and sauce). Also, we found garlic/dill bread, which was a nice side dish. Yay cooking!

Today, we slept in, made omlets for brunch, and now I'm at the office. I officially don't have TB, if any of you were in the least concerned. (I wasn't.) I'd hoped to get an apartment with people again tonight, but it didn't work out, so I'm at the Bratislava tonight. Oh, well. At least they have hot water.

Tif, Harry Potter 7 is out in Russian. :)

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вівторок, жовтня 30, 2007

russian lpi result

Intermediate High on my Russian LPI!

Basically, that means that my spoken Russian is okay and I can carry on in full sentences and thoughts, but I slip into Ukrainian sometimes. Which isn't surprising. I just wanted to do the Russian to see what I've managed to do just from hearing Russian for two years but never formally studying it.

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kyiv, the money pit

I'm in Kyiv, doing my COS medical, shopping for Christmas presents for everyone I hadn't gotten yet (I'm quite fond of the t-shirts I found for various male relatives, having been able to match interests and shirts), hanging out with friends, and just generally feeling poor, as it seems to be impossible to do or eat much in Kyiv for less than 25 hyrven.

Facts of interest:

~a group of us have a very nice apartment just off of Maidun Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), which has worked out to about $17/night/person. Not bad, especially for Kyiv. If my sofa-bed didn't fall apart quite so easily, it'd be even better (and I thought I lucked out when I was the only person with my own bed!).

~COS medical was not a particularly pleasant experience, at least not the parts that I generally find unpleasant when doing a physical. However, Dr. Sasha was nice and gave me Valium to help me relax. I hate to think what it would have felt like without it.

~Related to that, when you're on Valium, don't try and find your way up Andrievsky Uziz (a twisty, turny little street with lots of art stands) by yourself to meet friends, especially when they think they're at the bottom of the hill but they're really halfway up. It's confusing.

~Last night, I went out for coffee (okay, hot chocolate and tea) with John, a guy I was a camp counselor with six years ago. Since then, he's converted to Orthodoxy and for the last three months, he's been in Ukraine serving as a short-term missionary at an orphanage for severely disabled children. We'd been hoping to connect up while we were both in the country, but hadn't been able to until last night, the night before he was leaving to go back to Michigan. It was neat to see how his experience here has compared to mine.

~I'm going to go take my LPI in Russian now. I'm still a little loopy, so this should be fun...

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четвер, жовтня 25, 2007


Announcing my new haircut, which shows off my new curly look...

In my apartment, taken by me.
In my neighbor's apartment, showing off my new scarf.

I wanted my hair trimmed, but I hadn't expected it to be quite this short. However, I've quickly grown quite fond of it.

In an unexpected happening last night, I got stuck in an elevator an hour and a half before I was supposed to catch the elektrichka to Kharkiv in order to come to Kyiv. Fun stuff. I called Katya, a sixth-form girl who is the only person in the building whose phone number I had. She didn't understand and asked if she could come over and play. I called Robert, who headed over. In the mean time, I kept yelling, "Help! I'm in the elevator and can't open the door!" over and over until I got someone's attention. The elevator people came and got me out, and I made it to the elektrichka in plenty of time. Still, an experience I don't want to repeat.

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вівторок, жовтня 23, 2007

still no heat in my building...

Bits and pieces from my life, with a heavy focus on the Yukhymets kids (as usual):

~Vitaly (age 17) has taken to asking my opinion on various topics, generally religion-related, and sharing his thoughts with me as well. He's doing a lot of deep thinking for a high-schooler--highlights have included, "How would we have become Christians if God hadn't sent the Holy Spirit?", "Do you think it's wise that all children have a computer accessible at home?" (he's not convinced, due to many parents not providing supervision), "Do you think that money is evil?", and "Did you ever hear that some people believe we come from monkeys?" All of which have led into fascinating conversations.

~Vlada (age 14) really made my day last week. We were studying holidays in 8th form, and everyone had to say what their favorite holiday was and why. Vlada said, "My favorite holiday is Christmas because Jesus was born." That's the first time in two years of teaching that any of my Christian kids have made that bold a statement about their faith, and it made me so happy to hear.

~Oleh (age 13) is going to be one of our school's competitors for the 8th form level of the rayon-wide English Olympiad! I'm excited about this for several reasons. One, it's vindication to me that I've taught someone something over the last two years. Two, even though the olympiad material is going to be more advanced than Oleh's used to, it'll do him good to try and shoot high. Three, Nelya decided on her own without any imput from me to enter him as a participant...after she'd been considering more "academic" students. We've all come a long way in the last two years.

~On Saturday, I went to Barabashova, the largest bazaar in Ukraine (and one of the largest in Europe) to buy Kate's Christmas present. I found what I wanted at the price I wanted, and I didn't get lost. Go me!

~I didn't teach today, but instead spent the day at home typing up a lesson plan. Nelya and I are hosting a district seminar on the topic of debate at the end of November (the debate topic is the dangers of television), and we're also going to submit our lesson plan to an English-language newspaper for Ukrainian teachers. So I spent the day typing up affirmative and negative arguments about TV. Once I accept that it's simply not like it would be in the US, I feel better about it all, and I was able to work in information about AIDS and domestic violence, two huge problems in Ukraine. According to Amnesty International, 50-70% of Ukrainian women have suffered from domestic violence. Wow. I try and think about that, and my brain just refuses to comprehend, especially when I realize that means that 50-70% of women I know have dealt with abuse of some sort.

~Tomorrow I take the overnight train to Kyiv. From there, I'm going to be a mentor for a group of new trainees, do my COS medical, have a day or two unplanned, and then (hopefully) go to Zgurivka one last time to see the Malkos. So I won't be home for the next week and a half, but I'll still have Internet access at the office, so I'll try and post.

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четвер, жовтня 18, 2007

my new favorite time-waster

I follow some online journal communities about applying to grad school. Today on one of them, a link was posted to FreeRice.com as a way to practice vocabulary.

This site is cool. It's a basic vocabulary quiz--you are given a word with four choices for synonyms. For every word you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to a hungry person through an international aid agency. Apparently the idea is to support learning and fight hunger. I like this combination. 10 grains isn't much, but it does add up...I'm up to 2,000 grains donated today! (And since I'm supposed to be writing my statement of purpose for grad school, it's likely to increase before I go to bed...)

Also, it's fun to see how well I can do. There are 50 levels of difficulty, but apparently it's almost impossible to get beyond Level 48. I've ranged between 39-45, mostly around 43ish.

So all of you people trying to boost your vocab/waste time/make a difference...go play at FreeRice!

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середа, жовтня 17, 2007

not my most interesting post, but bear with me, dear readers

Today was fun. Sveta, the English teacher for the primary kids this year, is apparently not around for the rest of the month (college classes of some sort, I believe), and I'm teaching the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th forms twice a week each. They're so much more fun than my older kids, and their behavior's better, too! (Well, not always...but writing in their daybooks or putting their name on the board--in English--in order to tell their class teacher about it proves much more effective with 8-year-olds than 16-year-olds.) They're all excited every time they see me (we're on week 2 of 3 together), and it just makes my day.

(It makes me cringe just a bit when I realize that probably my older kids were once this sweet and enthusiastic as well and that these kids will eventually develop attitudes and no longer automatically think of school as "fun". Sigh...)

Really, my life is fairly uneventful and I don't know what to post. I bought two books of the non-graphic-but-still-stupid-but-I-want-something-to-read-British-historical-romance-novel-variety at the second-hand store today. I've bought several of the genre by various authors over the last year, and I'm beginning to think that the defining characteristics are a) coal mining is involved, b) someone (not necessarily the protagonist) has an illegitimate child, and c) household maids will, in fact, end up marrying the master of the house after his first wife dies. I cannot wait to be in a country with a decent public library with books in English and interloan services.

Let's see...what else... Oh, I've been trying the Curly Girl method with my hair, with mixed results. I definitely get curls, but I'm so used to brushing them all out every morning that keeping it curly tends to look a little strange to me. But I've been having fun experimenting (I bought hair sticks!) and have gotten several positive comments from kids at school (plus Oleh Y's "How did you do that?" Me: "It's a female secret. I'll tell Vlada but not you.").

Tonight I experimented, not with my hair, but with cooking. I made pizza sauce, sauteed a very small onion, diced up kolbasa (hard sausage) and tomatoes, grated some mozzarella cheese, boiled penne pasta, mixed it all together with a bit more mozzarella and Parmesan on top, and baked it "until bubbly", as the cooking websites I checked out for baked penne said. (I also made garlic-cheese bread.) The result was really good, except that I misjudged the amount it would make and had more than I could eat. Nice hearty food for a cool autumn evening!

I really should go work on my statement of purpose for graduate school...

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субота, жовтня 13, 2007

rain, rain, go away

Yes, I know I haven't posted all week. It's not been that interesting of a week, honestly. I teach, I come home tired, and then in the evening I either tutor someone or work on grad school stuff/spend time on the Internet. Oh, and I tried a brown sugar scrub for my hair (you mix brown sugar and conditioner and rub it into your scalp), which would have worked well except that I managed to break a tea cup in the bathtub during the process.

Today was a dreary, rainy day. I'd thought about going shopping in Kharkiv, but stayed home because Nadia said that today was a good day to come over and do laundry. Since it intermittently poured and drizzled all day, I'm glad I did so. It really hit home that I'm leaving in exactly two months, and that once I leave, it's not like I can just stop over whenever I want.

Oleh decided today that since I learned Ukrainian in three months, he's going to use the next two months to intensively learn English. Both parents pointed out that he'd already had almost two years with me, and why hadn't he put more of an effort in earlier? He told me today that he wants to be a translator. I could see it happening, if he ever put any effort into learning some grammar. We had a half-hour conversation in English today, all about Bible stories (Noah and Samson), school, my relationship with Jason, and Yanna, a girl he is friends with who lives on the other side of the country (they met at a wedding, he doesn't think they're related, and she is NOT his girlfriend...or so he says).

I'm coming home two months from today. That seems so weird to me, and closer than I'd realized. Not bad, just surprising.

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пʼятниця, жовтня 05, 2007

Teachers' Day

Today we celebrated Teachers' Day, which was actually on the first of October, but the rayon-wide celebration was today. I've become an old curmudgeon of a teacher at the age of 24, because when I heard that we had half-hour classes today in order to have a concert celebrating the holiday, my first reaction was, "Oh, why do we have to celebrate this? Thirty minutes isn't enough time to get anything done, and the kids'll be wild..."

It worked out okay, though. The morning was, of course, crazy, but the concert was nicely done (and I ended up doing a solo of "Yesterday"...without a rehearsal, as I was asked to sing twenty minutes beforehand). Then this afternoon, there was a rayon-wide concert for teachers at the Palace of Culture. It was also nice...better than last year, which had a Horoscope/Zodiac theme. This year didn't really seem to have a theme. But each school was given enough boxes of chocolates for the attendees (maximum 15).

Although I have to say that the best part of the concert at the Palace of Culture was listening to the recording of instrumental music being played before things got started. One of the songs seemed to have a bit of a country feel to it, which surprised me, as this country doesn't know much about country. Much to my amusement, as I listened more closely, I realized that it was a jazzy instrumental version of "Achy Breaky Heart". As good as it will be to come home, where am I ever going to have things like that happen in the US?

After the concert, our "jensky kolekteev", or "faculty that's 99% female and the one guy didn't come" went out to a cafe for dinner and dancing. The food was good, the dancing was fun, and even though I didn't talk much, it was neat to be with the other teachers in a social setting where they let their hair down. In my director's case, literally--she has waist-length brown hair that she always has up in a braided bun, and when we were dancing, she let it hang loose, much to our amazement (several pictures were taken for proof that this happened, but unfortunately, not by me).

But the best part of Teachers' Day for me was reading the final drafts of a writing project that my 8th form has been working on for a week. I had assigned them in groups and given them an assignment: they had to write a story, minimum 10 sentences, on whatever topic they wished, but they had to use a list of words I gave them (which included vocabulary words, plus a few I threw in because I wanted to see what they'd come up with...yes, I am an evil teacher, thank you for asking). They turned in their rough drafts earlier this week, I corrected for spelling and grammar (trying to preserve their...um...interesting sentence structure while correcting verb tenses and such things), and they rewrote the stories. I think they're absolutely wonderful, especially because they came up with all the ideas themselves, so I decided to post them online for all of you. (So anyone who doesn't feel like reading them, the Sally-written part of this post just ended. Goodbye!)


During this summer holidays, the pupils of our form decided to visit the grave of Taras Shevchenko [a famous Ukrainian poet] in Kyiv. The senior pupil decided to take care of the pig this summer. Sometimes I watched TV. Also, I helped about the house. When the autumn came, we summed up our summer work. The harvest was very good. There were many fruits and vegetables. We were glad. We gathered together and ate shish kebobs. We liked our holidays. We had good results this year. We hope our next summer holidays will be so good.

Yukhymets Vlada
Obiznyi Artur
Melerska Natalia

[attached was an illustration of two children playing by a river]


My Last Summer

Last summer I was in Kyiv. There I went in parks and streets. And in one harvest I saw many pigs. They ate shish kebobs and watched TV. They decided that they do away with senior pupil. Then they summed up all the yeses and nos. They decided to put him in the grave and bury in the ground. I saw this all and went to the Kyivska militia. I told this all to the militiaman. He went with his colleague and they arrested all these pigs. In evening I saw this pigs on TV, in the rubric of criminal offenses. Tomorrow I will have from the militiaman a medal and a sign. Then I will come to Balaklia and tell about this but my friend won't believe me. But I will show them my medal and sign. I don't know where these pigs are. But I know I'm won't see some more of them.


"My Summer"

Summer is the favorite season of the year. This summer we decided to visit the grave of Taras Shevchenko in Kyiv. We visited it with the senior pupils and our teachers. I like this famous poet. The harvest was good this summer. We gathered many fruits and vegetables this year. Sometimes I watched TV. I saw many programrs, but my favorite was the program about the pig. When we celebrated my birthday we ate shish kebobs. When I summed up the summer holidays, I found that this holiday was very good!

With love: group #4
head master--Maksym;
Sasha--did nothing.

The end


My Summer Story

In summer holidays I met with Katya and Dima. We went on a picnic. We ate shish kebobs with a big pig. The senior pupils helped us. We summed up and divided the collution [collection?] of the harvest. We made supper. We watched TV. We dug a grave and pulled a bird. We went home and amused ourselves. We played tennis and volley-ball. We played [a word they didn't know in English and I don't know either]. We listened to music. I spent much time with my friends.

Group N 1


My Summer Story

In summer I often met with Roma and Tanya. They are my friends and we want to just narrate our story. We watched TV. And we saw how to slaughter pig. From the pig they made shish kebabes. We summed up and decided to make sish kebabes too. Roma had a pig. We slaughtered the pig, and put the bones in a grave. But with meat we made shish kebabes. Senior pupils helped us. I and Tanya collected the harvest. And we made salad. We laid the table and we had supper. We ate well with shish kebabes. We had a good jolly time in the summer holidays.

[attached is an illustration of the grave, the shish kebobs being cooked, and the three friends at the table eating supper]


Let us tell you of Ilona, Dasha, and Alina's trip to New York

We have gone to New York for one year. It was at the end of September, when our parents gathered in the harvest. When we girls arrived, everyone was preparing for Halloween. We went to one of the New York schools and met people our same age. And we very strongly befriended one girl and also her brother, a senior pupil. She told us about her capital, and we told her about Kyiv. On the following day, she invited us to her home for shish kebabs. She regaled us with tasty tea and cookies, and we watched the television set. Then she brought us a dish of pork, pig meat. We went in a church and saw the grave of a holy saint. One day I quarreled with Dasha because of Judy's brother. Alina helped us decide our problem. We took plenty of videos. We very happy, but it was already time to go and we invited Judy to visit on her holidays. When we arrived home we often watched our film. This was an unforgettable trip.

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вівторок, жовтня 02, 2007

Valera's Thoughts on Christian Marriage

Conversation between Valera, Liza, and I at the Yukhemetses' on Sunday afternoon.

Liza: How old are you?
Me: 24.
Valera: But you can get married at 22! [not sure where that figure came from] Why aren't you married?
Me: Um...it hasn't happened yet. I'm waiting. So when are you getting married?
Valera: I'm only 10!
Me: Well, I meant later anyway. And who are you going to marry?
Liza: He's going to marry Lilia [a girl in his class]!
Valera: [horrible face] No, I'm not! She's not a Christian, and you can't marry non-Christians, right?
Me: Right.
Valera: And you can't marry your sisters, either.
Me: Riii-ght.

Good to know he has the basic requirements for Christian marriage down. :)

Not much is going on these days...well, actually, I'm quite busy, but none of it's huge. School has more or less settled down into a routine, I'm tutoring four people this semester outside of school hours--Julia, Andrey, Andrei-who-fell-off-the-roof (who is much, much better but not going to school this year, so we provide home-bound instruction), and Vlad, who is a manager for a grain elevator in a village near here run by Cargill, which is apparently a huge international company. We talk farming, which is fun for both of us and good practice for what he actually needs English for--to advance in the company. In addition to all of this, I'm working on grad school apps and cleaning out my apartment.

In case any of you want to know what sort of country I live in, here's a description, courtesy of a site devoted to romantic phrases in Ukrainian (perhaps for wife hunters?):

Ukraine is the land of love. The people have ledgendary [sic] beauty and are raised in a dreamy snowy naturalistic landscape far from the distractions of the west. Most people here have a classical education that is rich in literatire [sic] and romantic classical music. I beleive [sic] that when you grow up with less stimulation, such as in Ukraine, your mind develops its own stimulation in the form of fantasy and dreams. This is why Ukraine's people are true romantic and love is possible.

Sounds like a great country...I'll have to check it out sometime!

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