(All opinions and descriptions of life in Ukraine contained herein are mine. I do not, nor am I qualified to,
express the official opinions of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First month in Ukraine: Picture edition!

So here I am- one month in. Amazing how time flies when you’re working your rear off. I seriously haven’t worked this hard in my entire life. I mean, in terms of the shere volume of information that I must force my brain to ingest each day is pretty ridiculous. Like I said in the previous post, 4 hours of language training followed by technical training for about an hour and a half and sometimes tutoring or lesson planning following that. So all in all I’m getting about 6-7 hours of intensive training Monday through Saturday.
Now here is the disclaimer: no complaints at all. Just describing the scenario. But yes, it’s the most intense thing I’ve ever been through. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world though. I feel myself understanding more and more not only about Ukraine and the language and the substance that I am teaching, but also internally a lot of things are happening that are very positive.
I feel like I’m becoming more of myself, and that’s exactly what I came over here for. Anyways, I am going to keep the written portion to a minimum today and let my photos from the past month speak for themselves. Most of them were taken with a little pocket camera given to me by my wonderful safta (grandma), so the quality isn’t that of my DSLR, but hey, it’s still a picture. The pictuers in Kiev were all taken with my DSLR, and I think I finally feel comfortable enough in Obukhiv to bring my DSLR around with me, so expect higher quality photos.
So Quick desclaimer: Pictures are a bit jumbled chronnologically speaking so forgive the lack of organization on my part, i tried my best but this blog doesn't make it easy to move the pictures around... enjoy!
Host families grandkids! From left to right: Katya (6 years old), Danya (10 months old), Leira (11 years old)

Host family from left to right: Ruslana, Katya, Danya and Leira

Danya and Leira

Antoli, a.k.a "Tolik"

Leira working on her Markovka (carrot) Babushka doll

At Peace Coprs headquarters in Kiev. Allsion + Obama= Love


Bri and Alison

Girls of Obukhiv Katie, Bri and Alison

McDonalds of Kiev (there were a bunch of locations, but we chose this one)

McDonalds in Ukrainian... its funny how i hate McDonalds in the states, but once I get over-seas I start to crave it. I guess it just reminds me of home or something. Anyways, I think i'm over it already, it will be a once-a-year type of treat considering how expensive it is in comparison to authentic Ukrainian cuisine...

Me + Kiev= Very serious

The whole cluster in Kiev

Can you say photoshopped?

This means "Vinnitza", also known to be the origin of my families name= Vinitzky

Obukhiv and Trippilia groups posing in front of the Dnipre after Football match

Katie and the Soccer field cow

Igor (Ruslana's husband) barbequeing some "shishlik" A.K.A. Pork


MMM MMM Sala + Kartoshka= Ukrainian dream food (Potato stuffed with pig fat)

Urkainian power drink

Igor and I

Tolik in the Forest

Katya and I in a Tree

Luba and Danya- my favorites

Ok now a snap back to the First day in Ukraine where we had a laptop party in my room to exchange music, movies and programs before we left for our host sites.

Group 40B before we left for host sites

My first pic with my host family!!! From left to right: Luba, Katya, Ruslana and I.
Central Obukhiv

First day of language class!

Planning wall and Alie (my TCF)

First Ukrainian party: Host mothers grandons Baptismal celebration!

Leiran and Luba

Igor and myself toasting to the baptised boy

Katie Alison and myeslf. We found this house while going for a walk around Obukhiv and decided we wanted to check it out. So this guy named Sergey that was working on the house gave us a little tour. It had an Indoor Pool, a Sauna and like 3 different stories. No big deal, only a Million U.S.

Pic. of the front of the house. Katie and Alison with Sergey.

My building in Obukhiv with one of the many fiats that drive around town to the left.

Trippilia, supposedly Ukraines "oldest village" (dates to 7,000 B.C.). See the cow roaming the soccer field?

Health day in Trippilia= practicing putting on condoms!!!

More condom practicing!!!

Taking a break from language and tech classes to enjoy a beer at our local pool hall "Pyramid". From left to right: Me, Alison, Adam, Katie and Rocky (open your eyes man!!!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

First post from Ukraine! (yes... i'm actually finally here)

Yesh! I finally found a computer with a decent connection!!! Didn't expect it, so this post will be lacking any visual imagery, but hopefully my writing is proficient enough to make up for that deficiency.

Where to start? So much as happened in the past few weeks... I don't really know where to begin. I landed in Kiev, went straight to a little resort to the north called Desna. The second half of Ukraines group 40 stayed for a day and a half for orientation, and we were expedited to our host sites. It was quite the few days. I somehow evaded jetlag and slept great all through training.

My host site is Obukhiv (pronounced Oh-Boo-Cheev). Obukhiv is a small city about 40 kilometers south of Kiev. I am staying with a lady named Luba and her husband Antoli (we call him tolik for short, which reminds me of my little bro named toolie). Anyways, they are very kind and Luba cooks the best food i've had anywhere. It was a very pleasant suprise when I got picked up by her and her daughter, Ruslana who is semi-fluent in English and saw that the house I was to stay in for the next few months was very modern indeed (and most importantly had hot running water!!!).

Furthermore, Obukhiv is quite modern. There is a huge grocery store in the middle of the town that resembles a Walmart back in the U.S., and many small "magazines" which are small corner stores dot the town as well.

In addition, the town is situated about 10 kilometers from the mighty Dnipre River that flows through Ukraine, and has a huge forest on either side of it (which consistently turns brighter and brighter colors as the season progresses). My cluster mates (there are six of us total) and myself have explored the woods, where we have met quite a few characters, but that will be for another blog post which will be accompanied by pictures.

I was thrown into language class the very first morning in Obukhiv, and let me tell you all, four hours of language training from mon.-fri. is the way to go if you want to learn a new language quickly. No rosetta stone could do what I have received from PC in the last two weeks. I can't really speak yet per se, but I can tell you what the guy on the bus next to me is talking about on the phone.

Anyways, I also have taught my first two English classes at the local school, called "schkola tree" (literally translated, school three). It was an amazing feeling to say the least. The first class was a bit of a nightmare, due to the fact it was first period (students were half awake), non-responsive, and me and my colleague were a bit nervous (to say the least). However, we didn't give up and ended up playing hangman for half the class due to the fact we just couldn't seem to communicate with the students efficiently enough to get our assignment across.

The next class (the same day, both of which were 6th grade) were fantastic. Extremely enthusiastic, and very response to the games and assignments that we had planned. It was an EXTREMELY welcome sign after the first class. At the end of the day, I felt this warm buzzing feeling in my chest, similar to an adrenaline high after jumping off a huge rock at the river, or going on a roller coaster, that just made this whole future of teaching really really exciting.

I'm finally feeling the fruition of all the hard work that has led up to this point, and for that I am truly grateful that I have decided to dedicate the next few years of my life to teaching.

Thank you once again to all of you who have been so supportive throughout this whole process, I feel extremely fortunate to be in the position that I'm in today, and feel like there is no where else I'd rather be.

Much love, and I promise to put up some pictures in the next post.

Until next time!
Paka (see ya)!