Saturday, January 30, 2010

picture post 30 january

now the show to accompany the tell—

- shchedrivky, pre-departure
- Christmas tree in the Kyiv train station, both big!
- who isn’t excited to stay in a hostel!? I know Laura Ruth and Graciela are!
- the shape of that logo looks strangely familiar…
- eat the fork!
- a milkshake with no ice cream… not exactly what I had in mind
- snow, yes, snow
- Shevshenko inspires thoughtfulness
- and this university! warning: color in the picture is exactly correct
- one of the features of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Cafe
- available in two delicious languages
- it’s in Cyrillic, so you know it’s not a sign in honor of Tupak, but if you thought that at first, it’s okay
- “I knew right away that it was Ukrainian art when I saw the zebras,” said Laura.
- so there was this story about oranges—how many oranges?
- opera house, varied directions
- discounted babies, a mural, and ticket sales
- did you know that kyiv is the dragon capital?
- coolcool
- McUkraine
- another big church!
- big Catholic church in Lutsk, Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, featuring Ellen, Ali, and Tony
- inside
- the castle gate [insert random Princess Bride reference here]
- yes, there’s a giant chess set, but you’ll have to get past the cannons first
- book museum!
- takin’ the high road
- view from the fourteenth century
- collaboration, makes it happen! collaboration: working together! oh, I think that was cooperation… sorry, sesame street
- inside the school in Rokini, a small town thirty minutes from Lutsk
- all of the energy in the universe somehow flows through this exact spot
- walking back to the highway, you can see Rokini’s sort of far out there
- but it has this rockin’ bus stop
- YMCA holiday show—everybody wants to be a cowboy, baby
- modern dance [hopefully I’ll be able to upload some video clips so you can appreciate this a little more fully]
- the end
- the library where film club meets
- here, in the Window on America room, where no one ever eats cookies, especially not Jonathan

Sunday, January 24, 2010

post 24 january

The temperature was –25 C earlier today, and that was when the sun was out. Now, it’s dark, and it’s time to catch you up! :)

Next was the wildly entertaining holiday tradition of shchedrivky, of which you’ve already seen some pictures and video. Then, a trip to Kyiv for a swine flu vaccination.

Here’s a quick question and answer: Is it Kiev or Kyiv? According to the Kyiv Post, an English-language news source, “Kiev, although very common, is a transliteration from Russian, while the state language is Ukrainian.” So there you go. :)

Anyway, in Kyiv, I met a few PCV friends, ate some good food, and walked around a lot. It was really chilly, but we still got to see several things. A few of us stayed in a hostel, not too far from the circus building, and we saw [mostly from the outside] lots of museums, Shevshenko University—which is extremely red!—ice, snow, and more! There are lots of different parts of Kyiv, with lots of different styles of architecture, many of which can be placed in the “really cool” category. Due to a red-meat craving from one of our party, four of us ate at McDonalds, which I am pleased to report was, as I had been told, better than any McDonalds in the US. How and why? I’m not sure. Really, though, I think that was the best ketchup I’ve ever had. Also, although I’ve never had one at home, I had an apricot pie, too. Apparently in the US, these are baked, but here it was something like deep fried and it was crispy and delicious!

This trip also involved me successfully buying round-trip train tickets, catching each train on time [one while the whistle was blowing, one well in advance of such a warning], and navigating a number of challenges, many of which required maps. I was disappointed to discover that a very promising store did not, in fact, carry either lentils or peanut butter, but this simply means that more adventurous explorations are still to come!

Back in Lutsk, I’m now tutoring three different individuals, and am continuing to work on the history book translation project. There are still two weeks left before the next semester begins, but I’m hoping to find out more about my new teaching schedule soon. Also, this Friday, I’ll be giving a presentation for a local NGO about the importance and role of active citizenship in the United States. Scheduled between the first and second round of elections, this talk is part of an effort by NGOs nationwide to encourage citizens to take part in democracy and to vote according to their opinions and values.

Also, I finally got to see the castle in Lutsk! It’s old! and big! and cold! Well, it might not be cold all the time, but it was when I was there! Inside, there’s an art museum, a book museum, a bell collection, the remains of an ancient church, cannons, and a giant chess set! While friends were in town to spend the night before the regional Collaborative meeting, we visited the castle and a nearby Catholic cathedral, in which there were probably equal amounts of Polish and Ukrainian language, plus some German. The pipe organ is quite impressive, as well, but apparently even more so when it’s played. :)

Last night, after dinner at a local restaurant that serves really good food and 90s music videos, I got to see a YMCA holiday concert, too! Yes, that was the 23rd of January, but it was still cool! Apparently a variety of factors delayed the presentation, but clearly a great deal of practice went into it! The YMCA here isn’t the large, fitness-based building I might have imagined, but it’s more like some rooms in a big rec center with healthy and positive programs for young people. The concert was cool, with all kinds of dance, from hip-hop to near-ballet, and from traditional to very avant-garde, as well as singing, skits, and all kinds of entertainment.

Oh! and my oven’s been certified as usable! and I got an oven rack!!!! :)

Today was the first meeting of the film club at the local Windows on America library. We watched JAWS, and eight people came! With no way to know in advance what kinds of English skills participants might have, we chose a very visual movie, and, along with supporting vocabulary and discussion questions, I think the first week was a success!

Plus, I’ve been in touch with some relatives in Ukraine—through emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages!—and I’m looking forward to meeting with them, once it’s a little warmer, I’m a little better at Ukrainian, and I’m more confident in traveling.

And I got my ears pierced! Imagine!! :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

picture post- 16 january

new pictures, featuring film camp in Brody and an entertaining holiday tradition in Lutsk!

- you've got a friend in Brody, not too far from Lviv
- sleds!
- look! it's me! i'm here, too!
- a really beautiful skyview
- from a really beautiful cemetery
- very old and dramatic looking in the snow
- warm-up games at film camp
- game-plan strategy in front of waterfall mural
- lesson on story-boards
- and the effects of different shot angles and distances
- movie introduction for Up! [the other film was The Princess Bride!]
- another mural opportunity
- well-ordered icicles
- another church, clearly
- pretty sky, local event
- "Bethlehem Fire" is apparently an event welcoming the new year with songs, speeches, and candles [listen and see HERE and HERE!]
- this little church is made out of wood
- these little vareneky are made by hand, although not by mine, with potatoes or cabbage inside
- lunch at the home of my tutee, with a first course of kapusnyak [cabbage soup]
- a flock of pom-pom dogs
- yup, it's snow on trees
- one of my co-workers and her friends, dressed up for a holiday tradition- shchedrivky, on old new year's eve
- the bear and the beauty, cast members, at the dress rehearsal [HERE!]
- oksana, who works at the university, dressed for her role and stuffing pampushki [garlic buns] with fortunes
- the devil does the angel's makeup
- another festive participant
- the first stop on the entertainment tour- a performance for each home, with singing and acting and some dancing, ending with a request for a token of appreciation... not exactly like halloween, but something like that :)
- another house, where the angel's mother receives her fortune [HERE and HERE!]
- another house, another fortune
- is he man, or is he goat, and what does this young audience member make of it all?
- generous appreciation at the last house of the tour


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

post 12 january

So then… I went to a film camp in a not-too-far-off town called Brody. This involved a two-and-a-half hour bus ride each way, students, lessons, a few movies, and lots of running around games. This camp was run by a PCV in town, and several of her friends. Having been in Ukraine for a while, they all seem to have acclimated quite well, and are enjoying their experiences. Plus, they know how to cook! We had homemade bagels [Why are there no bagels in Ukraine?! Maybe because there are so many other kinds of bread…?], vegetarian chili, curried lentils, goat cheese and beet salad, French toast, potato and apple casserole… man! Don’t worry, this smorgasboard was spread over two days. We explored a little bit of the town, including a really old Jewish cemetery with very tall and very close together headstones, and a town celebration called “Bethlehem fire,” which involved some singing and some speeches.

Over the holidays, meaning from December 30 to January 10, I had no school! I did, however, spend time tutoring, and enjoying some more excellent food with a family in town. According to the season, and this family’s love of home-grown and home-made everything, I had a chance to eat homemade haluptsi [cabbage rolls], kapusnyak [sauerkraut soup], vareneky [pierogies], kutya [sweet grain Christmas dish], beresovy cik [birch juice], and lots more! Awesome.

I’m still working on this Ukrainian historical text, revising the translation into more polished English, and this may be the case for some time. I thought I was almost halfway done, but I just hadn’t received all of the files yet. :)

During the next few weeks, while students finish up the first semester and take their exams, I’ll be preparing for the new semester. Plus, I’ve started tutoring a surgeon, may help to facilitate a weekly film club at the library, and will plan for my own English club or clubs to start at the beginning of February. To add to that, I’m making contact with my potential partner organizations in the area: an NGO [non-governmental organization] working to promote active citizenship, among other goals, and a boarding school outside of town.

Also, it’s snowing again! Really, it’s pretty, but sometimes I imagine that there will come a day when snow will be neither on the ground, nor falling. Imagine! :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

picture post 1 january

newly posted pictures are available in the album accessible on the right-hand column of this page! :)

- the oath! Now I’m a PCV! :)
- the speakers! Susan spoke in English, and Ty spoke in Russian.
- the new US Ambassador to Ukraine
- Natalia, my counterpart, and I
- Remember Samantha, my roommate from Philadelphia?
- Laura Ruth and I did not plan to dress this way.
- disperse!
- Jean and Margo and I, just about to go
- onto the train in the neon cold
- our own coupe: Natalia, me, and my luggage
- a few members of my new department, with pizza and cake to welcome me :)
- TamTam
- courtyard view
- Harry Potter in spooky Cyrillic
- university
- icicle brows
- night lights
- English Philology class trip to the cafeteria in the basement
- center square new years trees
- Lutsk in lights
- Leci Ukrainka watches a concert organized by supporters of presidential candidate Yulia Tumoshenko
- big church, big cranes, big [re-, I think]construction
- the same candidate, posing with a tiger—because 2010 is the year of the tiger! All kinds of tiger knick-knacks and calendars are available, if you’re interested. :)
- I think these kinds of trees are awesome looking, but I’m not sure exactly what they are.
- part of the walk home, with a cool sky and my building [the tall one in the back, on the left]
- a promising-looking construction site on my walk home
- part of the yard of the kindergarten next door
- one of the many well-bundled babies in Ukraine [many are pulled around on sleds, like short toboggans with wooden slats and metal runners… so cute]
- political candidates and new years’ trees for sale
- olady, with apples! like pancakes, but puffier and, well, a lot like pancakes :) According to their cultivator, America has nothing like these apples!
- holiday spirit