Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father’s Day in a Foreign Land

One of the reasons I love my dad. My weekly letters from home.

Today, the U.S. recognizes the importance role of fathers and what they offer their children. Dad without you, I would have not learned so many things. You taught me how to think logically when parking a car, loading the dish washer, mowing the yard, and replacing an empty roll of toilet paper. You taught me how to hit line drives by tossing me golf balls (making my brothers field them). I can drive like a Nascar driver as well as park like a champion. You’ve also taught me the importance of working hard and being a good friend to others. You taught me important life lessons and other not so important life lessons like delivering a whooper of a tall tale. For the man who once told me I was heavy duty as a compliment, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day from Ukraine.

Like the past couple of weeks, this week was another slow week. Besides having English club with a handful of students and hanging out with my site mate and Ukrainian friend not a lot has been happening. The amount of naps, books I’ve read and TV episodes I’ve watched has sky rocketed since summer has started. I sometimes forget that I’m in Ukraine especially when I watch a few episodes of “Friends” back to back. Oh, how Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey can time warp me back to when I was a high schooler in my family living room.

But this ample amount of free time and lounging around will quickly be curbed when I head off to camp. I’ll be working for 10 days in Crimea with one of my good PC friends Melissa. This week we will head there on a 23 hour train. I really hope today’s overcast rainy and cool weather holds throughout the week otherwise the train ride could get pretty brutally hot with the lack of air conditioning and aroma of my fellow passengers. Hope for the best prepare for the worst (ear plugs can always go in the nose). Camp will include leading English sessions for campers as well as sports, games/ activities, and swimming at the sea. I’m thinking it is going to be pretty great. I am really counting on getting some color, because god knows my pale legs could use it.

After the camp gets over, I’ll be welcoming two American friends at the Kyiv airport. Pretty excited to have my last set of friends visiting from home. I’ll have a little over a week to show them the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells of Ukraine. Once I leave for camp, my summer will start to roll and blog posts will show up not at the usual times. So if I go without writing for a couple of weeks at a time, no worries I am just busy. Hope everyone summers are starting off great and that you all have a Happy Fourth of July.


New Facts and Numbers
1: bucket full of water for bathing
5: months I have left to experience Ukraine
10: UAHs for a half kilo of cherries or strawberries ($1.25)
23: hours of fun-ness on a train
70s: today’s temperature
103: pages I’m into the John Grisham book I’m reading
205: letters received
235: letters sent
1,000+: sun flower seeds I consume while reading or watching TV

High of PC thus far: being pushed to personally grow

Low of PC thus far: missing out on moments at home with family and friends

Expectations Met: being in a very culture rich place. You never know what exciting/crazy thing you will witness in Ukraine.

Expectations Unmet: a feeling of real purpose at my school.

Expectations Exceeded: the difficulty with the language.

Favorite Vegetable in Ukraine: Beets

Favorite time of day: afternoons that I hear the church choir practicing

Thing from Ukrainian I wish I could bring home: Patch, a goofy look stray dog that has a black spot over his eye. He has a certain lovable quality that makes me think he would make a very good companion.

Most Routine Religious Experience: riding on a marshuka, because for some reason I have the most random questions for God and just get lost in thought on the long rides.

Moment Greatly Anticipated: watermelons arriving at the fruit market

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Turning of Pages

What a typically afternoon looks like right now.

Dear Readers,

How are you? I’m well. Currently, I’m sitting in my kitchen waiting to slowly indulge on a bowl of strawberries all by myself. It is almost three in the afternoon and I’m coming to the conclusion there would be no better time for a nap. Oh how I hope that my carefree and stress less days can turn my grey hairs back to brown.

Today is another beautiful day in Ukraine. I hope the weather continues to bless me with mid 80s temperatures and a cool breeze. The clouds are friendly, cotton candy looking ones that seem to say hello and keep floating by with no threat of showers. I lose many hours by sitting in this wonderful weather on my balcony, because I lose track of time as well as the count of interesting Ukrainians that stroll one story below.

The Rivne crew that showed me around the neighboring city.

When the night finally creeps up on the average summer day well after nine o’clock, I continue with my marathon of West Wing episodes. Democrat or Republican you have to admit it is some pretty great writing as well as performing. My favorite character has remained C.J Cregg. She is intelligent as well as witty, but I enjoy the most how she towers over most of the men on the show at six feet tall. Woot woot for tall girls! I’m currently only in season two out of seven and have previously seen all the seasons, but I still enjoy passing forty three minutes with Leo, Josh, Sam, Toby, Donna, Charlie, C.J., and President Barlett.

This is officially the second week of summer and I have to remind myself to enjoy the laid back month of June, because soon enough summer will become a sprint to mid-September. Late June, I’ll head to Crimea for ten days to work a camp along the Black Sea. Beginning of July, I’ll have two friends coming to visit that I’m excited about. After playing tour guide, I’ll head back to the coast, but this time to Odessa to work in another camp for three weeks. Then back to Kivertsi before heading off to visit Turkey, Bulgeria, and Romania with two of my closest Peace Corps friends.

Wish we had more public art in the states that was this cool.

Upon returning, I’ll have only a couple days before Close of Service Peace Corps conference. It is a few days at a lodge where PCVs from my group will learn and start to fill out as much paper work that was required to get in to be able to finish this experience. Then if all goes as planned, I’ll be headed to Kyiv to pick up my pops for his little under two week tour of Ukraine. I hope he practices his arrival with pig fat and multiple shots of vodka. As soon as my pops is on a plane homebound, I’ll have exactly two and half weeks to get serious about the GRE.

Now as I’m getting a little stir crazy with the second week of no real schedule, I’m trying to remind myself it will eventually pick up and fly. How many times have I rubbed my ears and said ‘woosah’ after getting anxious about grad school applications and post Peace Corps plans? Too many to count. Well I better wrap up this up before a) falling asleep at the computer b) I get strawberry juice on my computer or c) my battery life dies.

Picnic on Val's drive...Mmmmmmexican!

I hope everyone is well. Know that I miss you all and especially when days are slow do I wish you weren’t so far and that dropping in for an afternoon of chit chat was possible. Miss and love you all.


PS If you have any questions or things you would like to ask about Ukraine and my Peace Corps experience feel free to post it. God knows I have the time to get back to you.

The strawberries and the book that I plan to consume