19 months down…

I tend to start these posts with a commentary about how fast time flies and I definitely continue to feel that.

I am 19 months in to this 27 month journey and that is astounding to me. So much has happened in the last 19 months. I’ve moved countries, cities, houses. I’ve travelled all over Ukraine. I’ve hosted camps and worked at workshops and seminars with students and teachers from all over Ukraine. I’ve made tons of friends, Ukrainians and other Americans. I know these friendships will last much longer than the 7 months I’ve got left living here. I’ve lived by myself for the first time! Survived winter in a house all on my own. I’ve taught countless lessons, some successful, some not so much, all of them giving me something to learn from. I’ve worked on my hobbies, learned how to make things for myself and have become self-reliant in ways that I never knew were possible.

I’ve started to prepare for my next steps, which is absolutely insane to me.

Enough of that retrospective stuff. Let me tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to for the past month.

As of my last post, I was getting ready for spring break and a couple more weeks of school. I spent the beginning of my spring break on a trip with friends to a city called Poltava.

Poltava is in Central/Eastern Ukraine. It’s very different from way out West where I live now, but is very similar to where I lived when I first came to Ukraine, my training city of Chernihiv. Also, spring break in Ukraine this year was pretty chilly, and it got colder by heading further East.

It was kind of refreshing to see a city that looked a lot like Chernihiv and I didn’t mind the chill too much. We only spent a couple of days there, and I ended up getting sick on the last day, but I’ll get to spend more time in the area because I’ll be a counselor at camp GLOW there this summer.

GLOW is a camp that focuses on female empowerment and it is something that I have wanted to be a part of since the first week I arrived in Ukraine. I’m excited to have this opportunity during my last couple of months here. We need support and I’ll post a link on how you can support us soon!

I got back to site and spent most of the rest of the week at home. On Thursday, Chezara and I went in to the city to pick up our NEW TEXTBOOKS! We won’t start using these until next year, but it was incredibly exciting to be able to see a project I’ve been working on since September start to come to fruition.

For the rest of the week, I worked on a couple of things for school, but spent the majority of my time knitting. I have been working on a knitting project for about a year now. I’m knitting a blanket, a pretty big blanket. It’ll end up being a pretty expensive blanket, but I really like that it’s something that I’ve been able to work on throughout my service here.

I was excited to celebrate Easter in my village. Easter is Ukraine’s biggest holiday. It’s celebrated a week later than Easter in America and is marked by a variety of celebrations. Some are very familiar, decorating eggs, going to church, dinner with family, and some are uniquely different. The eggs or “pysanky” are intricately decorated. You head to church at like 3 or 4 in the morning with your Easter basket in order to get it blessed by the priest. Dinner is an overflowing table including by not limited to: 4 types of salad, holodets aka meat jello and a special Easter bread called paska.

I spent last Easter with my host family, but I live on my own this year. Chezara had invited me to spend it with her family and I was very excited, but my body had other plans. I was SUPER sick all Saturday night and Sunday and spent the day curled up in bed or curled up by my toilet. Which had randomly and luckily started working again after a week of no flushing. Too much information? Maybe.

I recovered quickly and started back at school on Wednesday. Three days of lessons and English clubs and preparing for my grant workshop next week. Remember that? When I asked for money? All of these things are finally happening! I mentioned the textbooks already, but we are also hosting a seminar or workshop for my students.

We’re planning sessions on Project Design and Management, Volunteerism, Effective Presentation Skills and Leadership. I’ve been working with other volunteers and organizations in order to make this a great experience for my students. I worked on advertising and signing up students for this as well as getting supplies together.

This weekend, I’ve spent time organizing the logistics. Nailing down the schedule, getting together packets, making certificates. All of these little things that I don’t want to overlook.

Looking ahead, besides the workshop, I’ve got a lot of things on the horizon. We’ve got a mere 6 weeks of classes left before Last Bell, the ceremony that marks the end of the school year and then camp season starts. In June, I’ll be hosting two camps at my site, an English camp and a repeat of my American sports camp. I’m excited to bring in volunteers from all over America and all over Ukraine to meet my students during these weeks of activity.

July will be a whirlwind. I have training for camp GLOW. My family will be coming to visit and we’ll be taking a trip to Italy, finally allowing me to fulfill all of my Lizzie McGuire dreams. I will finally find out exactly what it is that dreams are made of. Then GLOW will take place.

In August I’ll be a counselor at camp TORCH. This is another camp that I am super excited to be a part of. TORCH focuses on human rights for children. I’ll be leading sessions on juvenile justice and media literacy.

Like all camps, TORCH needs funding in order for it to happen. Please check out the link below to learn more and to support us!

https://www.peacecorps.gov/donate/projects/camp-torch-2018-pp-18-343-009/

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