It's always the small things that get you. You never learn them, or you learn them too late do do you any good.
We had a meeting with Cris today at MIIS. She was in Ukraine 99 - 01. PCMI, TESOL, the like. We wanted to bend her ear about her experience, glean some advice we hadn't yet heard, answer some of our newly forming questions. She was in Kherson during her PCV experience, and she was a teacher trainer. She spent a lot of her time travelling around Ukraine to train.
In reverence to the rebel spirit I first saw in her two years ago when I first talked to her about Peace Corps Ukraine (my original PC country choice), her first piece of advice was to "hammer" at PC in order to find out where and what we'll be teaching. Unlike everyone else, Cris believes that because the information regarding our posts is so specific, PC actually already knows where we are going. She said, in order to do the best job we can as PCMI students, PC should tell us what we'll be teaching. So we can gather resources and such.
Or just to sate our curiosity. She told me I should be the one to call. Since I'm a male, and we'll be talking directly to PC staff in Ukraine, I might be able to sweet talk some information out of the staff. Too bad that sweet talking requires patience, something I've historically had little of--especially since applying for Peace Corps.
Maybe I'll try something new. Who knows?
Other advice condensed into a list, comments follow. You're about ready to be done reading, right?
+ "You'll meet teachers that don't give a shit."
--I already have.
+ "Try to observe the Ukrainian teachers."
--They are strict. We must learn how to be mean, how to crack the whip, how to make kiddies cry.
+ "Decoy wallet. A guy kept a fake wallet in his back pocket for pickpockets."
+ "Get in touch with publishers in Ukraine: Oxford, Longman, etc...." Try to get materials.
+ "A volunteer was murdered in Kiev."
--We heard the story. He did some unintelligent things.
+ "Your English class might be observed by someone who doesn't speak English."
--I'm not really expecting too much logic in our two years of service.
+"In terms of attitude: Start strict, then relax."
+ "Enjoy it. You're really lucky to be going."
We feel lucky to have such wonderful people, and such wonderful resources, surrounding us. We'll keep in contact with Cris from now through infinity; she's very nice and a very important person for us to know.
Thanks to all of you for all the small things you give us everyday.