Tuesday, December 13, 2011

post 13 december

Although I may sound like a broken record if you’ve just read the preceding entry, I’ve just returned from Kyiv and Mykolaiv after a seminar in the Writing Beyond Reality series this weekend. Still, perhaps sadly, this is the last time you’ll be reading such an announcement. This seminar, the fourth, was focused on publication—through the creation of actual books, zines, sound design projects, and also through performance—and was the last in our series. I’m sad to see this seminar end, but I’m excited about what we were able to accomplish. Of three teachers who attended regularly, one said she now starts her class with freewriting activities and her students get upset if they think they won’t get the chance, another gave her students writing assignments [from the booklet I created as an International Writing Olympics prize last year] and then asked them to create zines—they were awesome!--, and a third asked exactly when we might be having the seminar in Lutsk to find out if she could possibly attend. Note: it’s a long trip. Seeing the writing that participants created, as well as listening to their shifting ideas about publication and writing in general, made all the travel and planning worthwhile. Plus, super-pleased to be able to work with such excellent PCVs in this project! It’s my hope that we’ll be having a similar series in Lutsk this spring, so stay tuned! (http://writingbeyondreality.wordpress.com)

Let’s see…

I finished Nanowrimo! Yeah! For the fifth year in a row, I was somehow able to complete a 50,000+ word novella within the month of November. This year’s book, tentatively titled In Print, takes place mainly in a book cafĂ© in Lviv, and explores the space between fiction and reality. It needs some editing, some revising, and some what??-ing, but I’m happy to share with whoever wants to read. :)

Jonathan, my first and most fabulous site mate, has finished his service and left Ukraine. I wish him all good things, and will miss his good conversation, excellent taste in music, love of secondhand shopping, sense of humor, and all around let’s-do-something-ness. Sad to see him go, but glad we had two good years here together.

Having finished Nanowrimo, plus watching many of my fellow Group 37 PCVs vanish off into the great western world, I’ve been thinking about the future. So many options! Teaching at FCPS again? An MFA, either in poetry or even fiction? MA in TESOL? Peace Corps Response? Foreign Service? Having realized recently that I took the GRE more than 5 years ago—shock and yarrrr—another reevaluation is in order. Still, lots of possibilities. Got a great opportunity that you’d like to tell me about? I’d be delighted to hear. :)

We now have a Secret Santa project going on at the university! Over 30 people have signed up to participate, most without ever having heard of such a thing. It’s funny to figure out what things that are normal in the US are fresh and interesting in Ukraine. We have two weeks to do two nice things for our secret friends before the big reveal on December 23. Yes, I realize that’s just days before American Christmas, not Ukrainian Christmas, but hey, there are exams and New Years and vacation days in between! No discrimination intended!

The last thing, the big deal of the day: Today’s A Day in the Life of Ukraine! You, clever reader, have noted the additional capitalization here, and you remember my previous post, perhaps, too! Yes, it’s an event. I’m really excited about this project—a cooperative writing project in which people all across Ukraine document the day they experience today, 13/12/11 , as Ukrainians write the date. Hits on the website (http://adayinthelifeofukraine.wordpress.com) are already over 1200, the Facebook page and Facebook and VKontakte events have gotten some attention, and I’ve already started receiving entries at adayinthelifeofukraine@gmail.com. If you’re in Ukraine today and you want to participate, there’s still time! Entries are due on December 19! Check the website for more details.

It’s amazing how such a busy month can be summarized into just a few short points. Still, those are the main ones, so I’ll…

Oh! We had Thanksgiving, too!

And the teacher seminar in Chortkiv was successful!

And the Brain Ring was odd but fun!

And the film festival was great!

Okay, yes, I guess I forgot a few things.

Volunteers in Lutsk joined me and two of my best Ukrainian friends at my place for a vegetarian American Ukrainian fusion Thanksgiving spectacular, featuring lentil burgers and wrapping up with Fanta floats! Saturday was Thanksgiving 2 in Kivertsi, organized by Ben and Val, and attended by 17 PCVs! Too much food, but a warm and happy place to be. Thanksgiving 3, on Sunday, was a mini-celebration, at Window on America Community English Club, and featured a PowerPoint on Thanksgiving traditions, a roasted chicken, and lots of sweets.

The film festival was a great success, even after nearly 40 minutes of technical delay. It was pretty frustrating, completely unexpected, and barely preventable… but next time will be better! The waiting crowd was patient and kind, and we played a little Simon Says to keep everyone awake and happy. When the four films were shown, the audience was appropriately appreciative, and they helped to select the Peoples’ Choice Award winner. Congratulations to ‘The Lost Thing,’ and thanks to the creators of ‘Keep the Secret’, ‘Just the Beginning,’ and ‘To Winter’. Many students—and even teachers!—expressed their support for a spring film festival, and I’ll be very happy to help to make that happen!

Okay, that’s basically it. Really, this time. Happy Saint Andrew’s Day!