Since some of my friendly audience of readers have been asking me why I haven't been posting much lately, I figured it was time for a post. The short answer to why this blog hasn't been updated is that I've got two and a half weeks left before my Close of Service (COS), and there have just been too many things going on. Between school, Peace Corps, daily life, grad school applications, cleaning out my apartment, starting to say goodbye, and watching Doctor Who
episodes on YouTube as a way of relaxing when I can't take the rest of it anymore, I haven't had a lot of time for blogging or a lot of brain power to write intelligible thoughts that aren't connected to my Description of Service for Peace Corps or my Statement of Purpose for my grad school applications.
We celebrated American Thanksgiving last Friday night (worked better for everyone's schedules). Robert, Andrey, and Ira all came over for an American-style dinner of roast chicken (which in true family style wasn't done on time), stuffing, mashed potatoes, applesauce, shrimp dip with crackers, and carrot cake with maple cream cheese frosting. It was fun for the Ukrainians to try American foods, and I had the small pleasure of having Andrey say he possibly couldn't eat any more, which is always what happens to me at Ukrainian social functions. We then played a few games of Uno, and Ira went through the pile of things I'm giving away. She looked like Christmas had come early, and they left with three bags of stuff. Yay! (I keep giving huge amounts of my possessions away. This place should look much more empty than it does...)
On Saturday, I went to School 2 for the English Olympiad. We'd originally been told that 8-11th formers could compete, but then were told that it had changed to 9-11th formers. As Nelya had told Oleh Yukhymets that she was planning to enter him, I had been disappointed that he couldn't compete, but that was how it was. Well, when we got there on Saturday, we found out that eighth fomers were in fact eligible but that no one had called us to tell us that this had changed. Nelya looked at me and said, "Why don't you call Oleh?" So I called their house and Nadia said he wasn't completely up yet, but if I thought he was prepared enough to compete, she'd send him. He showed up half an hour later, saying, "You told me I wasn't going to compete, so I didn't prepare and I don't know what's going on..." We found him a dictionary, gave him a pep talk, and sent him off to compete. We don't have the results until Thursday, but he thinks he finished in the middle of the pack. Apparently his speaking topic was about a car of the future. Wish I could have heard it!
I was on the jury for the 10th form, where we heard many, many speeches about the Harry Potter books and movies and that English is the language of shipbuilding. O-kay, then.
Today at school I had a conversation with my director, which, as usual, was not the highlight of my day. I got the impression that my landlady had had a lot of issues with the way I kept the apartment, but my director kept saying, "Don't worry, we'll fix the place up after you leave." I hadn't been worrying, honestly. Yes, I could have kept the place neater at times. But apparently she didn't like that I had hung posters up (with sticky tac). So why didn't she tell me this? If it bothered her, I didn't have to have them up! She apparently also was bothered that the wallpaper had peeled in spots, which has nothing to do with me and more to do with the pasting job of whoever put it up. And as I have no idea where one would buy wallpaper paste (or do they just mix flour and water?) and all the loose paper was up by the ceiling where I didn't interact with it (can one interact with wallpaper?), I hadn't done anything about it.
The director also told me (we have such cheerful conversations) that there had been an anonymous letter circulating at one point that I was here to teach her daughters English for free. As I met her girls maybe four times during two years and I don't believe we ever spoke English to each other, this seems laughable. She also told me that the secret police had kept a file on me during my time here. The head of the department for our area had shown her a paper where comings and goings of my visitors (particularly those from out of the country) were recorded.
This all left me with mixed reactions. One, it's a little weird to me to realize how little privacy I had. (How did they find out Jason's last name? Were people keeping track of who sent me mail? Who were the people gathering this information? What all did they know?) Secondly, as an American, it's weird for me to think of regarding foreigners with that much suspicion (okay, yes, I forgot the Patriot Act), but I realize that this comes from the Soviet legacy. However, my sense of humor helps--I can't help but feel that if they were expecting to find some nefarious American spy, they must have been disappointed. I taught school, made a few friends, and went to church (which was probably the weirdest thing I did here). I can honestly say that my conduct as a PCV was above reproach, and I had nothing to hide.
I leave Balaklia in two weeks. I fly home to the US in 17 days. These twenty-seven months have gone so fast...
Мітки: andrey and ira, cleaning, cooking, cos, director, dos, english olympiad, food, grad school, jason, landlady, nelya, robert, soviet legacy, thanksgiving, y kids