Thursday, January 12, 2012

post 12 january

Hi there!

When last we spoke [read: I wrote and you read], it was A Day in the Life of Ukraine. Since then, there have been many such days, but most are not quite as capitalized.

Regarding the Day in the Life of Ukraine project, though, about 200 entries were received from people all over the country. School pupils, university students, teachers, Peace Corps Volunteers, and others sent in their views on the day. You can see a map of where these entries came from—at least those with identified locations—if you peek HERE. Updates are there as received. All entries have now been read through and sorted, and those chosen for online publication will be seeing their work on the site soon! If you’re curious about how pieces were chosen, I can tell you. Many of the pieces received were not written in direct response to the task, and those will not be online. That is, many authors chose to write about their understanding of and/or love for Ukraine in general, or the happenings of an average day. Those pieces selected focused on the 13th of December, and/or offered an interesting perspective on daily life in Ukraine. Stay tuned!

On a personal note—aren’t all of these notes personal?—the project offered me an exciting opportunity to connect with people all over Ukraine. Some were people I’d met through professional conferences or even in camps, but most were people I’ve never met or ever had previous contact with. I’m struck by the amazingness of communication, assisted, of course, by modern technology. I was so pleased to receive so many entries on a project that I set up personally, and hope those involved have enjoyed the opportunity. The positive comments were just great to read, and I’m especially pleased by the connections made. :)

Secret Santas: Revealed!

The Secret Santa project ended up including about 35 people from the College of Romance Germanic Philology at VNU. General success, with a few mix-ups, and hopefully the practice will continue!

What else?

Christmas came, twice! American Christmas brought three wise friends traveling great distances across the country [iea, Sally, and Nathaniel]—and two from across town [Terry and Vika]. We celebrated with a tasty vegetarian feast of quiche and macaroni and cheese and cookies and chocolate sausage—yum!—as well as crafty goodness, stockings, music, and general delight. Some health worries and travel concerns forced changes in our original Createmas plans, but all was well, all was bright.

The stockings were hung by the шафа (shafa) with care...

Before Christmas 2 came New Years, and two fine friends [Andrew and Laura] traveled my way again [where ‘my way’ means I don’t move at all!]. We made nature burgers, pizzas [some more artistically topped than others], resolutions, and lots of celebratory midnight noise.

Good people, good times. I’m lucky to have such excellent people in my life—people who know me and support me, people who do good things, and people I’m happy to learn from. To my friends!

Also, to my family! For Christmas 2! I made it to Komarno for Christmas Eve dinner—a tasty, meat-free meal… with fish. [Yes, fish is meat, although some may choose to disregard this fact.] When Bohdan came to pick me up, he said that it was like welcoming his own daughter home for Christmas. To my family! I spent the weekend listening to carols, playing with the kids, visiting other relatives, and eating lots and lots. This is what holidays are for: vareneky/ pierogies, sweet pampushky/ doughnuts, and good times together. On Sunday, Bohdan’s daughter and granddaughter—Ivanka and Irynka—and I went into Lviv to see some of the sights of the season. A light snow was falling, hot wine and pampushky were sold on the market square, manger scenes and a giant tree were ready for all kinds of photos, and decorations and music brought the magical holiday city to life. Lovely!

Christmas eve dinner starts with honey on bread for a sweet year ahead!

You’ll note that I was excited about ‘a light snow’—because that’s really all we’ve had this year. I am knocking on wood right NOW. I’ve been wearing my fall boots, putting off getting the boots I wore last winter stitched up. It’s been a bit slippery on occasion, but there have been no occasions on which I couldn’t see the ground through the snow. I guess it averages out—my first winter here was super-snowy—but it really doesn’t do much toward painting a picture of the ‘hardships’ endured in Peace Corps…

Other than holidays… I was a judge at the oblast [state] English Olympiad, where I graded listening and reading tasks, written essays, and speeches for 11th form students. A serious task, with some very well prepared students, and some interesting questions. If you had to give up one sense, what would it be? If you could have one super-sense, which would you choose? [As my follow-up question, I got to ask how you’d use this super-power to help others.]

I made fudge, with varying degrees of success and consistency. No microwave, no candy thermometer, no [or minimal] problems.

I taught a cookie-making class. At my friend Oksana’s school—Family Academy Plai—it was a master class for moms and other holiday chefs. We made brownie cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and gingersnaps. It was an interesting experience, a balance between me trying to use vocabulary I don’t really know well in Ukrainian, my friend Oksana translating occasionally, and a bit of cross-culturalculinary surprise. ‘Are these cookies okay for kids to eat?’ ‘Will these chocolate pieces melt in the oven, or will they still be there?’ ‘Do you have to press the dough flat, or how do the cookies spread out?’

The sweet life- pampushky in Lviv!

Things are generally going well, and I’m doing my best to keep them heading that way. New Years is, of course, a time to make resolutions, and I’ve made a list that I’m checking more than twice. Although I can’t imagine not being in Ukraine at this time next year, nor do I really have any idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing seven months from now, I’m working hard to stay focused on the things that matter. Honestly, sometimes it breaks my heart to think of leaving Ukraine, but I know that my work here is not to do things myself, but to encourage others to do for themselves and each other. No matter what my position or where I am, I think this will always be my task, and I need to start looking toward what that position will look like, while keeping my head in the game, my eye on the ball, and other similar metaphors of the ‘do what you’re doing and do it well’ variety.

Be well!