"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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Settling In and Celebrating Christmas

Yesterday was a cold day in Kolky, one of the ones I was warned about. The wind was especially bitter and bit way below the skin. It must be because it was bazaar day, and I needed to buy meat. I talked to my meat supplier (yes, that's right, my very own meat supplier) and she had it all ready when I walked in. She is actually a teacher at school, and we now have arrangements for me to buy meat from her at the bazaar. I should be more specific really, arrangements to buy pork. All I eat is pork. And chicken if I go over to someone's house for a meal. I asked about beef, and someone told me all they have is veal...we'll see how desperate I get. Maybe I will pull out the meat grinder and make pork tacos sometime this week. I brought a few packets of taco seasoning, and have only used one since being here.

Christmas was quiet and I spent the day with my friend Val who came to visit me from her town about 30 minutes away. It was really nice, but we both agreed it was missing a few things. We made borshch (borscht) on Christmas Eve, and it was delicious. When we tried it, we couldn’t even believe we had made it. It will be a new Christmas Eve tradition for me. Not to overshadow the Butterballs and Noodles that I missed so dearly, but to accompany them. Get excited. We exchanged a few small gifts, and I opened some from my students and teachers. I walked away on Friday with 12 boxes of chocolate. Christmas in Ukraine is celebrated according to the orthodox calendar on the 7th of January, so at school the whole “Christmas in December” jive was all about me.

Life is Kolky is going well, and I am settling in nicely. It’s nice to just be able to sit once in a while and breathe. It is so interesting living in a world where you really don’t understand everything that’s going on all of the time. I have come to accept it, and even appreciate it, but diving into a book where I do understand everything keeps me sane. I am on holiday now until the 10th, but I will continue tutoring some students for the Regional Olympiad for an hour a day (minus holidays). Kolky swept the District Olympiad the weekend before last, sending 3 students to Regionals. I’m responsible for speaking comprehension and proper pronunciation of words, something that my training (and fluency f English) will come in handy for.

On the 11th I will travel back to Kiev for a VAC Meeting. VAC stands for Volunteer Advisory Council, and I was nominated and elected while at Swearing-In. It’s a position I am humbled to be trusted with, and am looking forward to working with the office and the other VAC members (including my good friend and fellow Group 40er Rocky Espositio).

In the mean time, I will be hanging out in Kolky, and I’m sure spending a lot of time at different dinner parties and gatherings for the New Year, Christmas (Jan 7) and Old New Years (Jan 13). Thanks again to everybody for the support and love, especially around this holiday season. The e-mails and messages meant so much to me, and I am so blessed to have such amazing people thinking of me!

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