"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

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Good Start to Summer

Happy Friday to you all! 

I just walked to the store close to my house for an after dinner ice cream bar. Another WIN of Summer - Ice Cream. Not that I can't eat delicious 'morozovo' year-round, I'd just rather not get yelled at in December. 

This week has been busy with school Camp. I don't do a whole lot -- a lot of hanging out, entertaining students for 45 minutes at a time when someone decides to send them to me. Mostly I've been reading (I'm rereading Omnivore's Dilemma right now and really enjoying it through the eyes of someone living in rural Ukraine) and working on different projects. The plates, even in the Summer, continue to spin so I'm going a little crazy trying to keep them from falling. 

Wednesday-Sunday of last week I was in Kyiv. A year ago, Kyiv was still a crazy European metropolis that had the potential of swallowing me whole. I never understood why Volunteers who had been here longer really didn't love Kyiv but now I kind of see where there coming from. The city is just that - a city. I always enjoyed it because it meant getting out of the village and exploring. Now it just seems expensive and a little bit of a hassle, but I try to enjoy my time there as much as I can. 

When I was there, last minute EURO preparations were taking place (literally - there's a countdown in the center and the minutes were ticking...games start today!) The main street and center is block off from cars, lots of vendor tents are going up, and a huge screen in the middle of Independence Square will show the games live for the 'Kyiv Fan Zone'. I'm sure you've heard a little bit of the happenings -- Poland and Ukraine are co-hosting Europe's biggest football (soccer) competition - EURO 2012. They are pulling it off by the skin of their teeth but not in the grandeur and glitz I'm sure some were hoping for. The people of Ukraine (not their government) have really stepped up to the plate and I think will make this a really hospitable and exciting place for foreigners to visit.

I attended Swearing-In on Wednesday at the new Embassy. It was absolutely beautiful, but of course no photos. Thursday, I had a Volunteer Advisory Council meeting which was extremely efficient and productive. Friday I had my glasses replaced and Saturday/Sunday I spent with friends. A Volunteer found a cafe called "New York Bagels" so I went twice while I was there to indulge in some delicious bagels and cream cheese.

This weekend, I'm headed to the site of the camp I'm co-directing with some other staff members. We're meeting with the administration of the forestry college where camp will take place, checking out the accommodations, and we'll sign some contracts. The town of Shatsk is a 'resort' destination for Ukrainians because of it's beautiful lakes - especially Svityez the biggest and most beautiful of the lakes. Not a bad place to have a camp if you ask me! 

Hopefully the weather cooperates this weekend; Summer has started off quite rainy and cold for us here in Volynska Oblast. Today was much warmer -- warm enough for reading in the hammock! If Summer continues to be full of Ice Cream, lakes, and hammocking, then I'll be doing just fine!

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