(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.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The end? No, a new beginning.

I started this blog about two and a half years ago with the intention of chronicling my time in Peace Corps. However, this time has now come and gone and i'm left with one last post pertaining to my actual experience being part of Peace Corps Ukraine. It's kind of strange to think that I went through this process and it's over. I am definitely proud of myself. But moreover, I am more in awe of all the things that I experienced and learned during those past two years. I think it will be highly beneficial not only for myself but for people interested in what the Peace Corps actually offers people who join it to list the things that I learned during my service.

Some of the things I learned during my service in the Peace Corps:

1.How to fully give.
2.How to fully receive.
3.To be part of a foreign community.
4.To learn to cook well.
5.To speak, understand, read and write and sing in a foreign language.
6.To make new friends.
7.To teach large groups of children and adults subjects that I never thought I would ever teach such as HIV/AIDS awareness, photography, English, sharing cultures, leadership, gender identity, and even self-respect.
8.To help a student who was suicidal realize there is so much to live for.
9.To create long lasting connections with people in my community.
10.To be spontaneous.
11.To be flexible.
12.To deal with frustration.
13.To invest in oneself and see the benefit of doing small things for yourself such as ironing, cleaning, baking, singing while dancing in your underwear. Things that give you mental health and strength.
14.To be part of something bigger, and not know exactly what your contribution is giving, but knowing that you have a purpose in life that is bigger than what you always see.
15.To learn new things every day, such as if you add some water to the bottom of a pot of cold rice, then it will heat up evenly and the rice will be moist again.
16.To learn self discipline.
17.To create newness within, and not expect things to change externally.
18.To learn to live simply, without frills or gadgets or any kind of new technology or comfort.
19.To love and be loved.
20.To create projects that you will never see come to fruition.
To trust people, even if you don't know them.
21.To be honest and straight forward, even if people don't always like what you have to say.
22.To create an optimistic viewpoint for yourself, even during days where you think that you're about to have a mental breakdown. Finding light in darkness.
23.To love life and every small moment that it brings you.

I've probably missed some things that i've learned, but this is a pretty healthy list. I think I could probably think of many more things, but you get the general gist of my experience. I wouldn't replace it for the world, and I feel so fortunate to have had it. Of course it was hard, of course I wanted to come home many many times to see my family and friends and eat familiar food. But looking back at it, I want more of it, I want to be challenged, pushed, pulled to my limits and boundaries. I liked the fact that no matter what I did I always felt like I was doing it for the right reason. There was never and doubt in my mind why I was there. I knew that no matter how much I suffered I would also have that same amount of joy in the future. I was right, and I thank myself for pushing myself to enduring and making the best of this time to create a better me. I don't claim to be perfect coming out, but I sure as hell know that i'm a totally different person than the one who came in 2 years 3 months ago.

In essence this blog post is to affirm the fact that when we go through uncomfortable and hard times in life we grow. I know many people who are afraid of pain and suffering and hardships, and this message is directed at you. Push yourself, you will grow. Try to hide behind comfort and the familiar and your chances of growth are diminished considerably. Trust me when I tell you, you will not regret it in the long run, and you will even enjoy it at a certain point.

Finally, I would like to say that I will most likely be ending this blog. I will most definitely create a new one. But after considering extending this blog into one of my next step in life, i've decided that the best thing to do is to close it, just like this period in my life. Closure is important here because I feel like it will help me better understand everything that i've gone through during this time. I'm still trying to figure everything out, considering i've only been out of the PC for 3 days now. I'll try and post a link to my new blog on here so that you, my dearest reader can subscribe to the new one, which I intend to make as interesting, if not more interesting than this one. I hope you will subscribe.

Thank you for reading and following my adventures in Ukraine. I appreciate all of your support and kind words, and hope to see you all in the flesh in the near future. Also, if you have any feedback on my blog, please let me know what you think could be done to improve it in the future.

Thanks again, and much love and peace as always!

Celebratory dinner with Dasha and her family

The best counterpart and friend anyone could ever ask for.

Nastya, AKA Gingerbread lady.

No American sending-off could be complete without Jack.
 It was Dasha's first time ever trying Whiskey! It was a hit :)


Nastya, Dasha's daughter eating Tiramisu.
Hopefully this is what the future holds for me?

Dancing the night away!

My life in three big bags. Preparing to leave site. :(

My lovely students and friends sending me off at the bus station in Armyansk.
I miss you already!!!

Me looking goofy and excited to ring the "final" bell, a tradition in Peace Corps to
signal the end of your service by ringing this bell in the office in Kiev.

Back in Israel with the final days of Hannukah.
Tully man, my brother all grown up lighting the candles.

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