"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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finishing October Right!

As stated in my previous post, some exciting events are happening in my neck of the woods. My Lyceum held our Olympiad last week and we had quite the turnout. I'm pretty sure that everybody was excited about the English test and not just wanting to miss some lessons. Results are finalized and this was to help us determine who should go on to the next round in the region (county). If they place, they go to the Oblast Level (State) and then possibly to the Country Level!

The start of the Olympiad - Quite the crowded room!

The 7th From starting their Listening Task

Volodimyr Mykolyovitch proctoring 'Listening Comprehension'

Working diligently!

Ira, Dima, and Roma at the head of the room

Also, I spent a weekend with Ukrainian friends in L'viv. Most of them were locals, and showed me a side I'd never seen before! One of them being atop the Administrative Tower in the center of the city! 

One of the last beautiful days of Fall!

Looking at the Greek Catholic Church and a bit of the city center!

"High Castle"
Many, many stairs will get you to the top - just ask my Mom and Dad!

High Castle with the city in the foreground

One of my favorite cities in the world

 Then, we went to the Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life, or rather "Shevchenko Grove". It's an open air museum with 100+ different structures, buildings, houses, monuments, etc. There was even a Cossack Wedding while we were there, so we watched a little of the procession!

The Bride and Groom

Of of the Wedding Party/Cossack Ensemble

One of the Churches

This isn't an exactly hidden treasure in L'viv, but it was the first time I'd been there and cannot wait to go back. I feel like we only saw a fraction of the territory -- much to be explored! 

And then it was time to celebrate Halloween. Well, there was no carving of pumpkins, but there was a lot of candy, 90 minutes worth of games/Halloween entrainment, plenty of costumes, 2 pre-carved pumpkins, 40+ children and one English Club facilitator...me.

I was slow with the photos, because frankly I had my hands a little full. Costumes included a ghost, lots of witches/vampires/princesses, a couple of cats, a real PCV (me in a traditional Cameroonian outfit), some movie stars, etc. Activities included: Halloween Vocabulary Concentration, Mummy Wrapping with TP, Put the Stem on the Pumpkin, a presentation about Halloween in America, watching a short clip about 'How to Carve a Pumpkin' and of course, a Costume Fashion Show.

"Put the Stem on the Pumpkin"!

Mummy Wrap!

More mummifying!

What's left over of our Vocabulary Concentration Game and our 'stemmed' pumpkin!

I'm leaving for Moldova tomorrow, so I'm spending a few days in Kyiv exploring while on Fall Break. Hopefully the VISA reapplication process goes smoothly and I'll be back with some fun stories and photos from Moldova...and I guess a VISA. It started snowing off and on here in Ukraine on Saturday. That's nothing compared to Sandy -- praying for the best for everybody in the East!

Happy Halloween to everybody! Eat some Candy Corn for me please! (Photos of the Candy Corn brownies I made coming soon...)

Dodging the rain/sleet/snow in Kyiv with some Windmills and Pysankys!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Reign has Ended!

I'm recently back in Kolky from an awesome weekend in Kyiv where I had a Volunteer Advisory Council meeting on Friday. It was a productive meeting, and my last as President of the VAC (one year term limit) but during my extended time here in Ukraine I'll still be representing the other PCV's that have chosen to extend. I'm excited for the little bit of extra free time that goes with giving the position away and still excited that I'll be serving on VAC. In other "Extending News", I'm going to Moldova to get re-register my Visa. That will be at the end October, so I'll blog about that next month!

While I have internet momentarily, I'll upload some photos from the past month or so.
They include: The 2nd Annual Potato Harvest! Of course these photos were taken about a month or so ago when I could get away with wearing t-shirt and shorts at 4 in the afternoon. The sun is setting a lot earlier these days, but as of yesterday, I have heat in my apartment, so life is good!

Doing what we do best!

Carrying the buckets into the shed

About twice of what we had last year!

What's a potato harvest without celebrating afterwards?

Not very often do you get to eat sunflower seeds right from the flower itself!

Teachers Day - I was given an award by my regional Administration for "Commitment to Excellence in the Classroom, Promoting Modern Methods of Teaching, and Leading Workshops and Seminars for Teachers of the Oblast". Other teachers were awarded for various accolades and accomplishments!
The teachers  and Administrators from Kolky Lyceum who went to the Regional Award Ceremony/Concert

Some of my "loot" after a fantastic and eventful teachers day celebrationUnfortunately this doesn't include the cake my class gave me!

"How sweet it is to be loved by you!"Thanks again for the LOVE via my care package :)

Kolky's Bus Station got a paint job!
(I wonder how "Slovyanka" feels next door?!")

Plans for the future include Kolky Lyceum's English Olympiad on Thursday and Monday's English Club celebration of "Halloween". I'm going attempt to supervise 10-13 year old's carving pumpkins for the first time. Wish.me.luck. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Or in Peace Corps lingo, Continuation of Service-ing.

Last Wednesday began Peace Corps Ukraine Group 40's (that's my group) Continuation of Service Conference! For 3 days we talked about how to wrap-up our service over the next few months (some Group 40ers are leaving as early as November - some leaving as late as January 2014!) You may be asking yourself, why Continuation? Well, all of our services just don't stop or close in Ukraine...we continue them back to the States, sharing what we learned here in Ukraine and bringing it with us in everything we do in the future. This conference was a great way to share those ideas, and give us the start to some sort of closure here in Ukraine.

For me, the COS Conference was quite surreal. Our Group hasn't been together since we Swore-In in December of 2010. We've lost a few along the way, but 80 of us still managed to make it the whole 27 months here in Ukraine.

Peace Corps Ukraine Group 40!
The Biggest Group PC has ever seen...we're still 80 Volunteers STRONG!

Also, I'm not leaving just quite yet, so the whole "How to Readjust" and "Life after PC" topics were distant for me. I was getting ideas for new projects and networking with Volunteers to see what I could do in the next 9 months. A lot of people were really ready to leave...but not me, not just quite yet.

Me and Rocky - The Gr. 40 Volunteer Advisory Council Reps...
apparently peering into our distant and uncertain future
My Training Cluster and Link!
All 10 of us have made it the 27 months in Ukraine :)

You might remember us - Ben, Asia, Laura, and Evan
Kivshovata Training Cluster
September-December 2010 :)

After the conference, I made my way down to Odessa with four of my closest friends in Ukraine! We had an extra long weekend down by the sea. The city was beautiful in all it's Soviet glory and the weather was perfect for a little time on the beach.

Val, Evan, Laurent, Ben and Grace on some famous stairs in Odessa

In front of the Potemkin Stairs!!!

Let's go back right now!!!


Now, finishing school tomorrow with...TEACHER'S DAY! Yes, this Friday, the 11th Formers will be taking over the school and letting us teachers have a relaxing day at school celebrating us! A Teacher's Day 2012 Blog - equipped with photos and stories coming soon, along with a photo of an award that I won today in Regional Center!