"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, February 24, 2011

The Day of the Defenders (Better yet, Men's Day!)

Wednesday was going to be just a routine day, a recovery one for me, because I had given an open lesson and presented a workshop for all the English Teachers of the Region on Tuesday. The school had been preparing for quite a long time for the event, evening putting on a special English concert for the teachers. Tuesday turned out really great, but it was a lot of work. Here's a picture of most of the English teachers from the Manevechi Region.

But then I show up to school on Wednesday and right as I walk through the doors, a 10th-former says to me "Dobre Den, Mr. Benjamin. Sviato Vam" (Good Day, Mr. Benjamin. Happy Holiday). I thank him politely, but in my head think, "Oh Bosha" (Good Lord)...it's a holiday!? What holiday, I'm still not sure of, but everybody is wishing me a happy one. When I arrive in the teachers room, I am greeted with hugs and kisses from every woman in the room, along with excited shrills. They all want me to see something. Across the room, I see a bulletin board with a bunch of pictures on it.
Under my photo-shoped photo it says, "The Best Volunteer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with his ZAZ" (Ukrainian Car)
Then, I'm informed that it's the Day of the Defenders, also known as Men's Day! We only had a half-day at school because of the holiday, and instead of one of my classes, I was allowed to attend a class party in the 9A form. Around noon, all of the female teachers decorated the Teacher's room and threw a party for us men! Speeches, drinks, food, drinks, candy, presents and a few drinks, all to celebrate the "men that have defended this country, and for the men we love". My present was a porcelain Kozak (Cossack) which doubles as a jug for pouring Ukrainian type drinks! (I was told it probably holds a half liter!) We had a wonderful time, and the women really went all out. I am constantly impressed by the camaraderie and fellowship of my school staff. We take care of each other, help each other out, and really know how to have a good time. Next holiday is International Women's Day on March 8, and from what I'm told, the celebrations and parties put the holiday yesterday to shame.
Missing a few of the other men from Kolky Lyceum, but here we are being celebrated!
My Ukrainian Kozak Jug


  1. Ben, Hi!

    That bulletin board looks awesome. Does everyone have a different, unique description? I'm glad that your Tuesday teacher seminar/presentation went well! (of course it did!) :) I love the jug with Mary and Jesus in the background. Is it all shots of vodka? or do you drink other alcoholic bevies at school? Miss you!!

  2. That is the sweetest jug of all time. Oh Bosha I want one just like it. :) I'm pretending to know Ukranian and stuff. Happy (belated) Men's Day! You deserve much celebration! And I love the photoshopped you with the muscles and the muscle car. Duhhhhh the Ukranians know you so well. :) xoxoxo

  3. I spelled Ukrainian wrong both times. You're welcome. At least I didn't call it THE Ukraine? :)

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