Sunday, September 26, 2010

Autumn Flower Day

Trapped beauty.

Soft landing.

Easter colors.

This past Friday was the day of Autumn Flowers. Each class at school makes a composition of flowers. Then they are all displayed in the foyer of the school. At 11:30, students gather to do different readings and performances with the theme of autumn. They then were dismissed at 12:15 for the day. The older students would be coming back at 7pm for a disco in the school’s sports hall. I haven’t yet been brave enough to experience one of those. I’m sure I will sometime this winter.

Pond on the south side of town.

The school week was a pretty average one. I did have some issues with my 8th grade class. They don’t seem to understand rule number one of respect. It is enough to make me want to throw something. I don’t which is probably the reason I have discovered gray hair #2 this week. Oh, what I’m giving of myself to do this experience. I will give them a few more chances before I just say screw and teach other classes who listen and actually want to learn.

'You talkin to me'

Yesterday, I had a great experience in the post office with two girls who work there, 20 & 23. I checked my mail: nothing. Then I went to the counter to buy some avion envelopes. One of the girls said, “you drink pivo…with man… in Kivertsi. Is that you boyfriend?” She was referring to my PCV/ clustermate Jon. He came to town this summer to hang out and grab a beer. Apparently, we were being watched. I said no. I tried to explain just a friend but I’m not too sure they believed me. Since it was a slow Saturday at the post office, they were asking me a billion questions. I told them I would walk home to grab a small photo album. I came back in the next 10 minutes; we probably talked for another half hour. I invited them to my English club tomorrow night. I guess I’ll have two more Ukrainians watching 30 Rock and Friends. Oh good times.

"hey guys! I got a halfa watermelon."

Thursday, I went into Lutsk to meet up with Jon and Melissa. While Jon was finishing up with classes, Melissa and I took the opportunity to browse the second hand stores. I scored a sweat pair of Nike sweat pants (I’m sure my mother along with Sarah Perrone is thrilled I owe yet another pair) for less than $2. When Jon finished we headed to a restaurant before we all headed back to our houses. I must say that borscht and other Ukrainian soup are really hitting the spot as the weather slowly drops. Oh and most importantly in this visit, I picked up ‘Eat Pray Love’ that Melissa grabbed for me from the Peace Corps office. So it is round number two for this book. I can’t wait to see the movie.

Well that is about it for this week. Hope everyone is great and your autumn is starting off as well as mine. Miss and love you all.


Jon takes getting his man mug very serious over a woman's glass.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fresh Cut & Flames

Becky and I. I'm sporting the new curly look.

I don’t know if it is the fall weather but I’ve been in a great mood this past week. It is cool and sometimes rainy, but on the days it isn’t it is absolutely beautiful. The leaves are slowly starting to change color. Today, I thoroughly enjoyed my marsuka ride back from the nearby city while looking across a field with trees off in the distance as the sun went down. Beautiful.

This Saturday I went in to Lutsk (25 mins away city) to hang out with my local Volynska oblast volunteers. We celebrated the belated birthdays of Melissa and Katie. We were originally going to go to watch the local football team play but unfortunately we mixed up the dates and it was the night before. We didn’t let this dampen our mood. Still went to two of our favorite Ukrainian restaurants for dinner and drinks.

When we got back to Melissa’s apartment, we busted out the Cranium (thanks Tink). My team (Ashley, Jon and myself) won the first quick game. Soon after that game rapped up, we decided to just pick from the clues and have anyone shout out the answers. It was pretty entertaining at this point in the night. I just want to put out there that I think more cookies were consumed than alcoholic beverages.

Jay & Ashley doing their best Sears & Roebuck catalog impression.

This morning woke up early considering how late we stayed up the night before. For at least an hour Melissa, Ashley, Becky and I chatted in Melissa’s bedroom while others still slept in the living room. I don’t know if it is because I’m slap happy in the morning sometimes but we were just cracking up about the most random things. I haven’t belly laughed so hard in awhile. Eventually when people got up and moving, we made breakfast before people started heading out.

In the afternoon, Jon, Melissa and I headed to the city library to participate in a film club. My Ukrainian friend, Tanya, came in from Kivertsi for the first time to check it out. We watched ‘The Princess Bride’ for the most part the Ukrainians liked it; the best part of the movie for me is the little kid who is wearing Chicago Bears gear in the beginning of the story. After the club, I hit up Tamtam (Ukrainian Wal-Mart like store) before grabbing my stuff at Melissa’s flat and heading back to Kivertsi.

The weekend just capped off what was a really great week for me. My classes went pretty well this week. I actually feel like I’m getting through to my students and they are more interested this year. Also I had an awesome English club Monday evening. I had a group of 7 young women from ages 16 to 24. We pretty much decided this week that I’m going to bring magazines that I have read them and chat. They like to keep it more informal and just hangout instead of a really structured meeting like power points that I had done in the past. Hey less prep for me so I’m not going to argue about it.

Flame throwers/dancers in the center of Lutsk.

Oh, and my biggest news I got my hair did. I finally took the plug and let a Ukrainian cut my hair. One of my 11 form student’s moms has her own little salon. Well it is more like a one room little shop in the basement of the cultural building but none the less it was a pretty legit set up. The lady spoke just a little English. I made sure that before she started my student translated that I DIDN’T want Ukrainian bangs nor did I want a lot taking off. She trimmed it up and gave me some layer so my curls would lay better. Overall, it was a great experience for 20 UAH (Less than $4). I tipped 10 UAH and had to insist that she take it. I’m thinking next cut I might throw in money for some color.

So life is all good from Ukrainian. The middle of this week, I hit a spill of homesickness where I really just wanted a hug from someone. It is strange to think that if I don’t see another American, I can easily go a week or two without real human contact. But I loaded up this weekend when I was with my American crew. I hope everyone is well at home. Know that I love and miss you all.


PS Happy 11th month anniversary of being in Ukraine to me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


September is a time of remembering. On September 11th, 2001, I was merely a freshmen going to my second period class when a friend mentioned something happening to the towers in New York. I can remember walking into a classroom watching the footage of the first smoking tower with Katie Couric’s voice in the back ground. That day lives were tragically lost. Forever on this date, I’ll keep the families and friends of all the victims in my prayers.

September is my favorite month. When I was a kid this was the time of year that I felt settled into the routine of school. The weather cools down as well as the humidity normally disappears. In high school, my Friday nights would be consumed with cheering as loud as possible at whatever high school field the battle was taking place at. Oh, how I miss football games and cheering on my teams: Grey Ghosts, Cardinals, and Da Bears.

In Ukraine, it is also the time of the year for alot of canning and jarring. This is apple compote in the making.

September is the best month to mow the yard (one of my favorite things to do). All you need is a pair of old shoes, crappy jeans, and a t-shirt. Leaves start to change colors on the trees. A drive up Route 6 is very beautiful as well as up 29 along the river. Sitting outside and watching leaves fall and blow by is great in late September.

September is my birthday month. I get to celebrate being one year older with family and friends. Birthdays have been quite hopping for me this year. I had a great time celebrating last weekend with Peace Corps friends. Then yesterday, was a teacher at school’s 55th birthday. That is at the age one can retire from teaching if desired and that means one big birthday bash. Next weekend is another two PCVs’ birthdays so there will be another get together while cheering at a local soccer game. My pops’ birthday will wrap up the month on the 28th with a big 57th birthday. Don’t worry dad you will remain 52 at least until you hit 60.

The large spread in the cafeteria for the big 55th bday party.

Currently it is sunny Sunday morning here in Kivertsi. I have enjoyed my bowl of cereal, read a little in my B-I-B-L-E (like the kid’s song), and now just rocking out to some Christian music as I update the ole blog. I need to get some lesson planning done for my classes tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll have my second meeting with my Ukrainian tutor. He was a friend of two previous volunteers in my town and will hopefully be able to help me step it up when it comes to my skills with this tough as nails language.

My 5 rules and Phone Jail that helps me keep my students in line.

I had some classes this week. My normal schedule will start tomorrow with 5th-11th forms. I will also make some guest appearances in the younger classes because they are so curious about the strange American that eats in the cafeteria unlike most of the other teachers. The classes I did have this week went surprisingly well. I’m excited about this new school year and plan to get more involved. As soon as the gym repairs are finished I want to start an afternoon sports club for girls. I also want to have two groups for English clubs as well as continue working with the town’s social program and putting on English club for people who are above 11th form.

Feel like I’m finally settling in, about time considering I have been here almost 11 months. Well I hope everyone is fabulous back in the states. Now that my summer traveling is over, I have more time to write letters especially during free periods at school. So keep those letters coming. Love you and miss you all.

An early Happy Birthday to my good friend Brianne "Maria" Parra. Hope you don't get to 'hammered' on Tuesday. Welcome to the 24 club.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Номер двадцять чотири (Number 24)

Just some of the mail I got this week.

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday dear meeeee, Happy birthday to me!!! I am officially 24 years old. Don’t necessarily feel it. I can say with confidence that I’ll always be young at heart, or at the very least inappropriate.

So this is how my birthday week went:

Monday & Tuesday:

Last official summer days. Tried to settle back into site after traveling around on my trip.


First Bell. It is a Ukrainian tradition to have the 1st graders announced and presented with gifts from the 11th graders who are the oldest in the school. Education officials made some speeches. At the end of it all, an 11th grader boy hoisted a 1st grade girl on his shoulder walked around while she rang the “first” bell of the new school year.

School year kickoff party. I went to a local restaurant with 26 teachers (I think there is 30 in all at my school) to celebrate another school year. We ate and drank for the first two hours and then hit the dance floor. At this point, some of my school teachers are a little tipsy and ready to bust a move. I satisfied them calling me to the dance floor with a little shakin’ what my mom gave me. I eventually requested Lady Gaga, “poker face” then followed. It was too funny to see teachers from late20s to late 50s getting their grooves on all at 3pm in a brightly lit banquet hall.

The Ukrainian circle that they love to dance in.


Got a small run in during drizzly weather in the morning. Then for the rest of the day organized my room and had a fabulous time doing that because yes mom I’m that anal. (I didn’t have school because my vice principle told me not to come in until Monday because the schedule wasn’t ready yet.)


First dry day of the week so I took advantage of the sunshine by doing 3 weeks worth of dirty clothes by hand and then getting them out on the line.

I got into Lutsk by 5pm met up with my most local volunteers went out for some drinks then dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Drinks at Madagascar in a very African setting and then home to get a good night’s rest.


Chocolate pancakes for breakfast. A little second hand shopping. Gathering of volunteers coming into Lutsk at the cheapest/most tasty pizza place. Pre-gaming with birthday vodka. Awesome Ukrainian restaurant for dinner. Energy drink at our rented flat before the madness of a Ukrainian club. Bed 4amish.

Meet your very friendly Ukrainian Peace Corps Volunteers.

Sunday (my actually birthday):

Plenty of sleeping in. Ukrainian lunch. Turned in the key for our rented flat. Birthday Brownie surprise at Melissa’s apartment. Home at 7pmish for palmente cooked by yours truly and a movieathon before bed.


School for tea, cookies and candies with my teachers. Figured out my schedule with my vice principle. Got an amazing package of board games that will work awesome for ENG club from Tink. Now just hanging out and might possibly go for a walk since the sun is actually peaking through the clouds.

Thank you everyone who sent me a package, card, or face book message for my birthday. Being away from home isn’t preferred on birthdays but this one was definitely special in Ukraine. Miss you and love you all.

Me and My Best-y (Allison) here in Ukraine.

Highs of Birthday: brownies, being told I was very Liz Lemon, dancing, & great crew of people to spend it with.