(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, November 27, 2010

Ukrainian Thanksgiving

Getting Ready to Feast
The Feast

алисон и я (еше раз!)


Adam going in for seconds

Yasa licking Toli with Maksim serenading us in the background

Apparently both Koshka's (cats) and Sabbaka's (dogs) both partake at the Ukrainian dinner table

Kitchen dance party

Rocky's dancing face

Annddddddd... i'm done.

Happy Thanksgiving from Ukraine! Hope you all had a wonderful one as I did!
Can't say how thankful I am to be here right now, as much as I miss you all, I'm having the time of my life!

Love Nitai

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Last day teaching in Obukhiv

Today was my last day teaching in School #3. It was awesome... and somewhat sad. The lesson went really well I felt, and I got the kids to learn about the future tense "going to" while watching them enjoy it! I had them do some games like racing to see who could contract subjects such as: I am= I'm, You are= You're. They really got it fast!

Anyways, at the end of the lesson, I told them that that was it, and that I wouldn't be teaching them anymore. I felt a wave of sadness come over me like nothing I've ever experienced before. I really have grown attached to this group of 6th graders. They came up to me at the end of the class and shook my hand and hugged me. They gave me a funny little souvenire of a "dedushka" (Ukrainian grandpa) and told me that they really appreciated me.

I guess this is what the Peace Corps is all about- getting the little moments out of life. I felt an extreme wave of sadness after I said goodbye to them. It's not like I won't be seeing them again, we have a concert next friday, but still- I really enjoyed teaching them.

It's funny how I have such an attachment to the 6th grade. I spent my 6th grade learning in Israel, so I guess that's why I am so connected to it. It was the year that I spent abroad, and will always remember so fondly for learning how to speak another language fluently, and making so many new friends. I really love 6th graders.

I think it's also because 6th graders are at the phase where they are becoming much more mature. They understand more complex materials, and are serious about learning. Most importnatnly, they haven't lost their enthusiasm for life, and are very eager to learn. Their excitement gets me excited, and I feel like I am back in 6th grade, re-learning the same things I did when I little- just in a slightly different way.

Anyways, the day was glorious and I wish I could replay it again. I am missing home very much, due to the fact that it is Thanksgiving, but there is so much to be thankful for today, that it pretty much made up for me being away from home this year.

I love and miss you all so much, and am so thankful to have this opportunity to learn and grow and give. I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope that it was as wonderful as mine!

My 6th form class and I

Rocky, Katie and I with our 10th form class

Friday, November 19, 2010

2 weeks of PST left...

What a crazy thought. I am almost ready to become a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer). Where has the time gone? It's hard to tell really.

Today I had my meeting with the placement officers. They came to my cluster around 1:00 pm. We took turns talking to them for about 20 minutues each. It was pretty much as I expected it to be. No gaurantees, a lot of open-ended questions.

PCPO: "Where would you're ideal location be?"

Me: "In the mountains, maybe somewhere near a river."

PCPO: "Hahaha, yeah... The mountains are in the west, which is Ukrainian-language territory... sorry but to be realistic you'll most likely be in the middle, south, or east."

Me: "Ok no problem, so no chances of being in the mountains then?"

PCPO: "Not really."

And that's pretty much the extent of the conversation. All in all, it's not so bad... considering I signed up with the knowledge of the potential of being placed anywhere in the world, let alone a specific country. Peace Corps does an excellent job of preparing you to serve wherever you are needed, and that I am- Ready and willing.

I feel like this meeting was good in the sense that I got an idea of what the officers were considering, but at the same time, I got the feeling that they already knew where I was going to go, and were just double checking to see if I truly matched the profile on the peice of paper...

I hope I did. I hope I end up somewhere that really could use me. I'm almost sure I will. The anticipation is a bit over-bearing at times, but I take it in stride, and understand that sometimes the unknown is what makes us human.

I am definately ready to live on my own. I have loved living with a host family, but the fact that I haven't cooked a single meal for myself and have not washed a single load of my own laundry for the past 2 months seems a bit childish at times. Don't get me wrong, I love being pampered, but it wasn't really what I signed up for. I am ready for all the hardships that you expect when you sign up for the PC, and I feel like I could use some of those hardships right now.

I'm also hoping that I get placed in a town where I am by myself (no other PCV's in the town). I really want to get that one-on-one intimate feeling with the locals. Not that I couldn't do that with someone else there, but I feel like I would benefit language-wise and also with experience if I were to be placed alone.

Anyways, these are all just hypothetical wishes and after-thoughts. Thanks for tuning into my rambling. I hope everyone is doing well. I will really miss you all even more with the coming of Thanksgiving (my favorite holliday). It's going to be the first time in forever that I will be missing the festivities that occur around the hollidays, and that's going to be really hard. JJ- if you're reading this hit a few home-runs for me on thanksgiving day- I miss all of you back home so much, and hope to see you real soon (hopefully in Ukraine!)

Much much love and peace:


Sunday, November 14, 2010

A day in the woods

In true photoJ fashion, I'm going to let the pictures tell their own story:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kiev! (round 2)

Went back to Kiev yesterday. This weekend we got 2 days off due to the fact that our group is one tech session ahead of everyone else. It was really nice to have a day dedicated to just exploring, having fun, not worrying about any language or lesson planning.

Alison, Katie and I left at around 10:30 from Obukhiv and went straight to the PC office to drop some forms off for Katie. After that, it was really just whatever we felt like doing. I wanted to find a bazaar where I could buy a jacket and some shoes, but that plan never really fully materialzed, so we ended up on a treasure hunt trying to find an "Argentinian" restaurant on the other side of the city. We actually ended up finding the street and everything, but the restaurant had already closed! No big deal, we ended up eating at some little grill restaurant that wasn't too pricey (like the rest of Kiev).

We took the metro back to the center and met up with the other group who had been in Kiev all day as well. We walked around and went to some irish pub that was pretty nice. We called it a night after that, and all went home.

To be honest, I was exhausted, I'm not used to just wandering around (it's called gulyat in Russian, to literally "stroll"). Everyone in Ukraine does it on the weekend. People just wander around. It's their form of exercise. So I must admit, I felt quite Ukrainian yesterday! haha

Here are some pictures of the day in progress:

Alison with our guidebook ready to go!

Alison and Katie ready to go!

View from the botanical gardens

Babushkas selling flowers

Church stop #1

Waiting for me to come out of the church (girls need to wear headscarfs inside the churches in Ukraine, and these two didn't come prepared... looks like the girls sitting next to them didn't come prepared either...)

Meat Market

And Fruit...

And Spices...

More spices...

Katie is uber-excited for Garry Potter!!! (there is no "H" in Ukrainian, only a G that is supposed to be silent, but isn't really silent... for example: Hamburger= Gamburger Harry Potter= Garry Potter, etc.)

I could possibly use this in an English class...

Church stop #2

"God" and I

Me going in

So this lady was a serious character. This fountain is for making wishes, you put your coin on the little water faucet and it falls in and you make a wish. Well, this lady would just come up and take the money after it fell in and put it in her cup... no one was pissed so i guess it's what she always does? Alison felt like her wishes were being stolen though...

Alisons wish before it was stolen...

Wishers whose wishes are being stolen...

On our way to the Argentinian restaurant... Alison asking priests for directions

A truly Ukrainian slogan... take a bottle of vodka and throw your fishing rod into the river... what a life!

Main street at night

Alison y yo

Warren and the pretty lights

This is where i decided to have fun with photoshop

Alison is getting molested by the coffee dude while katie drinks from his cup