"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." ~Mr. Fred Rogers

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Teachers Day in Ukraine! (10/1)

Friday, October 1, 2010

I can even begin to describe how EPIC today was. In Ukraine, it’s National Teachers Day, so we were invited to the school to celebrate. The children put on an hour-long program (planned and prepared by the teachers in their classes) for the whole school. They danced, they sang, they told poems and stories, they acted out scenes from plays, they sang and danced some more. All of the grades participated, from the 1st graders to the 10th graders. It was really a special time for all of the teachers.

And OF COURSE we were presented to the entire student body and got to tell a little bit about ourselves…IN UKRANIAN! Talk about pressure, but it was really good for the kids to see us stumbling over our Ukrainian, making it ok for them to stumble over their English in front of us. Our speeches included “Good morning! Hi, my name is Ben. I’m from America, state Colorado, city Grand Junction and I went to University in California. I am a teacher and Peace Corps Volunteer. I specialized in English. (We tell them that because to them, we’re experts in the English language.) Pleased to meet you!”

So the program ended about 1 pm, and then the children left because the teachers get a break on their day! It’s a win-win for both the teachers and the kids…half-day! And then, it was time to celebrate being a teacher, and what better what to do that than eat TONS of food and drink in the gym! We had quite the celebration, and Evan and I limited ourselves to 1 shot of vodka. We were, of course, with our colleagues, even though they most definitely wanted us to help ourselves. It was so special being at the table, breaking bread, drinking wine, and just laughing, even if there was no comprehension of what was being said. We were apart of their family; teachers welcomed us, introduced themselves, and made an effort to include us. The meal could have lasted much, much longer, but after many traditional Ukrainian songs were sung, and speeches were given, we cleared the table and danced for a good half hour. Now you may be thinking of sloppy teachers over celebrating the day dedicated to them, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was just a community of friends, celebrating each other; their hard work, and the rich history teachers have in Ukraine. As Eisenhower once said, “It was teachers that defeated the Soviets, by demonstrating and reinforcing brotherhood and acceptance of neighbors”.

Today, I felt so welcomed, and loved. I am proud to be working with the teacher’s at the Kivshovata School, and know that over these next 3 months, I will gain a deeper understanding of the acceptance and brotherhood that only Ukrainian teachers can teach.

This weekend looks like it will be just as exciting and fun filled as the past week has been. We go to our neighboring community in the morning for a cross-cultural lesson with another cluster. Together we make a link, and visit each other every Saturday, either we go there, or they come to us. Their town is about 10,000 people, so more opportunities to hopefully get these blog posts posted! Thanks everybody for being patient with me! 

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