"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

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Easter in Ukraine. If you don't remember this post last year, I absolutely loved Easter 2011. The traditions, the food, the happiness is all so uniquely wonderful...nothing that I'd ever experienced before. This year, I'm aware that Easter is a huge deal, and I know a little bit about what to expect which is bittersweet. The surprise of the holiday is taken away this year, but I am able to prepare myself and be ready for what's to come. That means this week has been a whole lot of Easter preparations for everybody around Kolky. 

First, not really associated with Easter but rather the time of the year, I went with my 10th Formers on Wednesday to plant trees in the forest...or at least they told me it would be a forest in 40 years. Quite the manual labor field trip students in the States aren't accustom to, but my kids seemed to enjoyed themselves...and the mid-week break from lessons.

1km line of seedlings(?) saplings (?)

A soon to be tree

Sophie and Dima working away

Roma digging, Karina planting!

In my birthday package, my family sent two Easter Egg dyeing kits, so I brought them to school on Wednesday after I was finished in the forest. Of course, Ukraine is known for their beautiful hand-painted eggs, Pysankys, but I wanted to show a little of my culture to some of my students. They really loved dyeing their eggs and had a fun time. Kolky doesn't seem to have white eggs, so the hint of brown make for some colors of eggs even I hadn't seen!

Natalia Vasylivna and Anastasia Serhivna (in the very back)
dyeing eggs with the 7A Form

Two Moms stopped me in street and asked me how I made such beautiful colors. My "arts and crafts" vocabulary isn't quite up to par, but I explained to them how I got the kits and briefly about the dyeing process. They were intrigued and proud that their daughters would have the most colorful eggs in her baskets come Sunday. 

Mr. Benjamin and some of the 7th Formers
(Note: My class consists of one boy - "Wolf" as he prefers to be called)

My Ukrainian "Waste not, Want not" mentality kicked in after the dyeing party so I took home the dye and made my own eggs. Trading eggs with friends and family is a fun Easter tradition, so this year I'm prepared when people stop by my house over the next few days! 

The eggs I dyed

Happy Easter! Христос Воскрес!
On Friday, I had an Easter Egg hunt for both of my 5th Form classes, as well as my 6th and 7th Form classes. My friend Val shared her awesome idea, so I used it for my students. I hid 32 paper eggs all around the classroom with one word on the back of each. After finding the eggs, the students listened to the poem I read, and had to put their eggs in order to form the poem! It was a fun activity, and even better for me to see 12 kids racing around a classroom in their first-ever Easter Egg Hunt. Pure joy I tell you!

The week of preparation is coming to an end as I get ready for when people bring me food. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were devoted to baking banana bread. Banana bread is quite foreign and such a oddity here, but once people try it, they really love it so I thought it would be fun food to share. Lent is a time when Ukrainians take on a strict Vegan diet, so lots of treats are made for and eaten on Easter.

Banana Bread for Easter!

I'm going to rest and relax this afternoon, because I'll go to church for mass really early tomorrow morning - probably around 1:30/2 a.m. After church and the blessing of the baskets, I'll come home, nap, and the eat some of my blessed food! I'll probably also host my Counterparts when they bring over a feast, but at least I'll be able to bring some of my own dished to the table. Last year I was so caught off guard, but not this time around. 

I also decided to look up tomorrow's verses from the Orthodox Liturgical Calendar, so I'd be prepared and know what was going on at least during the readings. John 20: 19-25 Jesus Appearing to the Disciples - I guess in all our busyness before Easter, it's good to stop and think about how unprepared everybody was for the events leading up to the empty tomb and how still, we can dye the eggs, make the bread, fast for lent, do it all, but never will we be prepared for the gift that was give to us that Easter morning.

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