28 April 2006

a friday afternoon

Another big holiday weekend coming up. Almost half the year is holidays, I swear. Kyiv might be really busy this weekend or really dead. Being coming to the city to celebrate or people leaving the city to celebrate. Really, it could go either way.

In the middle here--Kyiv and really any adjacent oblast--and our Ukrainian language skills kinda fall outta favor. They can get us around. We can od what we need to do, but the lingua franca is definitely Russian. And I can get around even in Russian. Can do what I need, just from what I've picked up from the Surjik (a blend of Ukrainian and Russian) I hear. But I am much more comfortable in pure/almost-pure Ukrainian.

Living in the West as we did, we rarely heard Russian in large doses. Just on TV, which we didn't watch very often. Our langauge usually came from talking or reading, and most of that was in Ukrainian. It got to where I was even thinking in Ukrainian.

So we're glad to be headed back out to the west. We're having a good time in Kyiv, taking in some theatre (Don Quixote ballet, translated into a ballet--PHENOMENAL), visiting the touristy places in town, and taking a much needed rest. We saw Hetman Ivan Mazepa's house yesterday. And today, being the dorks that we are, are attending a seminar in downtown Kyiv being given by Peter Master. He'll be talking about how to teach the English article system in a more coherent way.

Like I said: dorks.

Before that, we'll prolly head over to the underground monasteries.

Yeah, life.

20 April 2006

a more robust update


In Kyiv. In the sun. Gotta say, Kyiv is a much different city in the
sun than it is in the snow. Don't get me wrong. The snow is beautiful.
But as all y'all who spent some good portion of your lives in the
midwest/northern plains/east/anywhere besides bila okeana, the snow is
beautiful til you gotta do something in it. Til you live in it for a
few days. Then it gets to be "that g-d snow" instead of just "snow."

We're hopefully headed to our old host family in P-town for Easter.
Got some meetings and stuff to handle in Kyiv with PC. Site
reassignment. For those of you who havent been in semi-constant
contact with us, I'll break it down real quick. Our sites, while
consiting of a number of wonderful people and unbelievable students,
was unable to procure us an apartment to live in for two years.
Despite some pleasant nudging, later turning into threats to take us
out of site, our sites could not find us a place to live. No
apartment, no teachers. Really, really sad for the kids because our
coordinators and directors didn't think we'd seriously leave. Even as
we were closing down our bank accounts, getting the notary to make up
some new rules so we could get our packages at the post office that
are still coming, people were still saying, "Oh, you'll be back in a
few weeks when we find something." Well, my sites were. Karen's
director couldn't be bothered to find an apartment, yet he quickly
found us a taxi back to Kyiv. My sites will probably be getting
volunteers again. We helped pave the way for a stronger relationship
between S-town and PC. Karen's site...I don't know.

So, there wasn't ever a safety concern for us there. Nothing more
serious than a lack of commitment to us. So now we will talk about a
new site tomorrow. As we speak Ukrainian--pretty well, I'd say, for
only studying six months--they're leaning towards the West, if they
can. We'll be coming in at the end of the semester, so we might not be
teaching til next semester, which is rough. We love teaching. I really
come alive in the classroom--in front of a class or with a pen in my
had are the times I really feel like I've tapped into some secret
energy from the Earth.

Leaving, I had, at each of my sites, all of my students in one room.
Then I had to break the news to then. Then cried. I cried. My
coordinators cried. I told then have much I did to get here. How long
I waited, how excited I was, and how crushed I was that I couldn't
stay. Crushed. Then, to watch them all run out to the front of the
school, crying and waving. Makes you feel all good and all bad and all
at the same damn time. Alive and dead.

Staying at a hotel in Kyiv currently. Taking the Metro back and forth.
Always fun. Buying fresh, poppy-seeded breadfrom the street vendors.
Taking in the ancient landscape heavily salted with modernity.
Standing on the escalator, hand on the thick, black rubber band that
serves as the handrail, my feet on the metal, moving steps, I find
that the handrail moves faster than the steps. So, if you lean on it,
your arm will eventually pull forward and you'll be leaning at a weird
angle. And that's kinda how it is here. Only the world Ukraine proper
so desperately wants to be a part of is the handrail.

And Ukraine itself is the steps.

Our Ukraine WebBlog: http://klukraine.blogspot.com

19 April 2006

In Kyiv

In Kyiv. Awaiting site reassignment. Things turned for the worst, I
suppose, and now we'll be headed to a new city. That's exciting at

Off to relax after a fair bit of stress. Hope to respond to you all
personally soon. The important thing is: we're safe and happy.

Love to all.


12 April 2006

Ukraine in April

Okay, so I really don't get to the internet.

First of all. http://www.perigee-art.com . 15 April 2006. My next
installment of my Peace Corps work for that magazine. You gotta pay $1
for the priveledge, but it's only a buck. I getting right famous and

Enough with the plugs.

It's getting warm hear. Actually, it's done got warm here. Snow's
gone. The river's full (of water and trash). The ground is all sand,
like we're at the beach or something. It's getting easier and easier
to live here. The language is really coming on at a good clip--thanks
to four hours of tutoring a week and us still living with our host
family. I'm writing stories again, entered some of my work, and moving
forward with that.

The teaching is going good. really taught some good classes lately.
I'm really settling down in the classroom and working with a style
that the students really respond to. The novelty of the American has
pretty much worn off for the students, so I'm just their teacher now.
But one they seem to like, which is nice. School ends the end of next
month. Then we've got a summer to look forward to. If any of you want
to visit, that would be the time.

We'll be going back to P for easter (a week later than yours) and we
are excited to see out old friends and family. We'll be going back
there in the summer, we hope, to work on a camp.

though things are good here, things are also slow. It's a real small
town mentality here. All there is to do for the youth is
drink--drinking laws are not enforced. We're hoping to provide some
alternatives--I've started a basketball thing on Saturdays. Of
course, we're real scatter brained because we don't have an apartment
yet. The people we work and live with have had a hard time finding
empty apartments--and have had a hard time understanding the urgency
of living on our own. We're three weeks past the date we should have
moved and still waiting. We've went from patient to angry to angrier
to amused to complacent. I've learned a lot about myelf during the
process, but I feel our contacts here are a little slower in wanting
to learn anything about us.

When the sun is shining here, it's beautiful. Well, not the city so
much. It's utilitarian. But the weather is beautiful. I've missed
the sun.

Post office here doesn't believe it can send postcards, so we're
having to package them all up and send em in letters. Jim, your
stamps are finally coming--though all the beautiful stamps are not
available in my town. Or anywhere it seems. They have posters for
them, but they don't have them for sale.

Wish you all well,

Our Ukraine WebBlog: http://klukraine.blogspot.com