It’s been a minute hasn’t it? Sorry for not keeping this as updated as usual this summer. It has been a wild summer and I’ve spent a lot of time exploring this incredible country I call home. Since school got out, I’ve travelled to six cities, helped out at 2 camps and hosted my own, picnicked with my students, gone to the beach and a million other things. I’ll give you a short recap here.
About a week after school got out, I conducted the first (hopefully annual) Mamalyga American Sports camp. I invited a bunch of other volunteers to come help and they delivered. They all were incredibly helpful. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN. I had meticulously planned a schedule, that we immediately threw out, but it was INCREDIBLE. We played American football, baseball, kickball, crab soccer, dodgeball, toilet tag, red rover, foursquare and it was so fun to see my students interact with other Americans and to see them learn the games so quickly. I don’t know if I’ve bragged about how smart my kids are enough, but MY KIDS ARE SO SMART. More love for the other volunteers, I had housing issues that came up in the middle of camp and they were incredible in taking up the reigns when I had to take care of things. Long story short, summer started great with that. It was both the best and worst week of my Peace Corps service, but the camp was incredible.
TRAVELLING (AKA MORE CAMPS)
Before my camp, I was really worried about how I was going to fill my summer. I didn’t really have much of anything planned besides my camp and a music festival later this summer and BOY DID THAT CHANGE. Over the course of my camp, volunteers started to talk about their own camps and mention that they could use some help and I volunteered. Next thing I knew, my June went from my camp and weeks of sitting at home to over two weeks travelling away from site to help at two camps, celebrate a birthday and explore a little bit more of this country.
I started my journey by heading to Chernivtsi to head to Chereshenka to help my friend Derek with a camp at his site. Let me tell ya, helping at someone else’s camp IS SO FUN. The kids love you, they write you notes, bring you pictures, they follow you on Instagram and you just get to play games with them.
From Chereshenka, I headed back to Chernivtsi, narrowly caught another bus to head out to Novodnistrosk, which is my friend Chuck’s site. Derek and a bunch of our other friends came out so we could celebrate Derek’s birthday. We went to the beach, had shashlik, made chicken nuggets, basically had a grand old time celebrating. I left Novodnistrovsk very early in the morning, slept on the bus, and caught a bus in Chernivtsi to Ternopil.
If you’re keeping track, I got to Ternopil on Monday afternoon. Camp didn’t start until Tuesday, so we were able to spend some time exploring with Shaun, who was a pretty decent tour guide. Ternopil is probably my favorite city in Ternopil. It’s got a lake, it’s really easy to get around and some pretty cool people live there. For the record, the ‘we’ in Ternopil was another PCV named Kaitlyn. I didn’t really know Kaitlyn until she came out to help at my camp, but we hit it off. Now we’ve helped at a couple camps and have spent a ton of time travelling together. She’s great.
We wandered around Ternopil, checked out the lake, ate dinner, some of us got ice cream while some of us did not, but that’s fine. We went on a beautiful sunset boat ride around the lake. We even went bowling! I’m terrible at bowling, but I loved the people I was hanging out with. Camp started and it was super fun. It was all just English games and El Presidente. So far, that game has been played in about 6 oblasts, my goal is to spread it to every oblast. (An oblast is kind of like a state). We also went to the theater and saw a super funny play (that I couldn’t really understand). We had THE BEST seats in the house because the grandfather of one of Shaun’s coworkers (her name is Nadia and she is awesome) is an actor and professor at the theatre. It was incredible. We got shashlik (Ukrainian BBQ) with more of Shaun’s friends (he’s a pretty popular guy in Ternopil). It was also super fun and super delicious, I loved getting to meet new people in a new city.
Camp ended and Kaitlyn and I hopped on a bus and headed to Lviv. I also love Lviv. We met another volunteer, went to our Airbnb which was the PRIME location. It was right in the center, super close to everything. This was my like third or fourth trip to Lviv and Madison and Kaitlyn’s first, so I got to play tour guide for them, which is a bit comical if you know how terrible I am with directions. Nonetheless, we had a great time exploring and we also ran into a bunch of other volunteers which is also super fun. I finally headed home on the train to Chernivtsi, hung out there for a day, caught the night train to Mamalyga and crashed so hard in my bed.
The next day, I finally registered for the LSAT!! I’m taking that in September (on my birthday no less). Studying has been a blast. I did laundry, cleaned my room and started to pack for my next trip, just a weekend in the city. Spent some time with my counterpart, she gave me homemade cheese, then spent a weekend in the city.
I celebrated the 4th of July with other PCVs in Chernivtsi. We had burgers and hot wings and talked about politics. Like you do.
I’m writing this from a hostel in Kyiv. I got here yesterday morning. I got a tattoo yesterday afternoon (sorry mom), and have been spending time exploring and hanging out with other volunteers. I went to two museums and had a burger!
I’ll try and update this a little bit more often, but if you’re on Instagram, don’t forget to follow me there. I tend to update that a bit more often.