I know it’s been way too long since I’ve posted an update. What a crazy month since I’ve updated. My last piece talked about my trip home and the adventures involved in getting home to America from my sweet little village.
I’ve got an exciting announcement that is LONG overdue. The grant that I’ve been working on received all of its funding, from the community, from donations and matching funds from Peace Corps.
THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone that donated or shared. My counterpart and I have started the process for ordering 160 textbooks(!!!) and other supplies for our English classroom and we have scheduled a leadership workshop for our students as well. None of this would be possible without the support of everyone back home and here. THANK YOU!
Other things that have been going on, I spent a week in Kyiv for what’s called “Mid-service-medical.” In the middle of my service (duh) Peace Corps asks me to get a physical just to check on my general health. I got a TB test (negative), went to the dentist and had a check up. All clear! I got to spend a few days exploring more of Kyiv with my friends. We stumbled on to a Cuban bar with live music and a place with some pretty fun ice cream sundaes. I finally made it back to my village, spent a week there, and had to go back to Kyiv for a Peace Corps conference.
This was called IST which is another one of the million Peace Corps acronyms, but stands for In-Service-Training. For most Peace Corps countries, you get this a few times during your service. I’ve had one for project design and this one was only for the secondary English teachers in our group. In Ukraine, they have also had Language refreshers, where you go practice Ukrainian for a week and ISTs that are focused on a subject.
This was a very fun chance for my counterpart and I to go and gain some new tips and techniques to use in our classrooms. It was also a very fun chance to see a lot of my volunteer friends that live all over the country. It’s a weird thing to be doing this together, but separately. We encounter a lot of the same challenges, but we’re also in very different communities. It was refreshing to have this time to spend with them and to reflect on how far we’ve come.
The next (and final) time we’ll be together will be at what’s called a COS conference. COS stands for Close of Service. COS is when I officially leave Peace Corps. There’s a bell that I get to ring and I’ll get the chance to say a few words about my service. (If you were wondering, it’ll happen sometime in November, so I’ve got about 7-8 months left of my service). Our COS conference is a chance for us to get together for a few days and reflect. It’s weird that that is so close. This adventure has for sure flown by.
After our IST ended, I didn’t go home right away. It was my friend Kaitlyn’s birthday, so we stayed in town to celebrate. We got a special meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Kyiv, brunch at a pricey, but WORTH it breakfast place. (I’m talking Chicken and Waffles). And I got to see Black Panther. WHAT AN INCREDIBLE MOVIE. You for sure can’t tell me that representation doesn’t matter. If that movie came out when I was a kid, I would have been Shuri for Halloween EVERY YEAR.
On the 8th of March we celebrated Women’s Day. It’s a very important holiday here in Ukraine. It’s more like mother’s day. Some of my students gave me gifts, tea, chocolate and lotsss of flowers. My allergies were loving it. Then there were performances after school and we had pizza! Bonus, we got Thursday and Friday from school. I took the weekend to work on some projects and to make a Ukrainian classic: Vareniky! They are dumplings that can be filled with potatoes or cherries. I made mine with potatoes and I also made taco vareniky! I knit a couple of hats, watched a lot of Law and Order and I made bagels from scratch.
When I finally had lessons again, my counterparts and I have been able to implement some of the things we learned at our IST. It has been really fun to see our kids use these new techniques. I spent the weekend at my friend’s site called Novodnistrovsk. It would take me less than two hours to drive there, but I have to go to the city to get there, so it takes me 6-7 hours instead. Worth it to celebrate a friend’s birthday! We went to the sauna, bought tracksuits and had Ukrainian bbq, called shashlik. When we came out of the restaurant, there was like 6 inches of snow! And no sign of it stopping. Have I mentioned that it’s March? That was Saturday and it’s continued to snow since. I got stuck standing in the snow (and 17 degree weather) waiting for a bus for an hour and a half on the way back home. Maybe winter will end soon.
This week, I’ve got classes, clubs and maybe I have spring break next week. We’ll see.
Anyway, WAKANDA FOREVER.