30 September 2007

sunny days

sat outside today on the main prospect drinking a beverage with a friend and his am-ukr acquaintance. she talked about apartments and real estate in Ukraine and it got me thinking. an apartment in Lviv, remodeled, goes for $300-$500 a month, depending on location. Ukrainians, unless they are rich "businessmen" can't afford this. it is the foreigners, like me, that prop this market up and make it IMPOSSIBLE for normal Ukrainians to rent. of course, most Ukrainians own their houses, but in these house are three, sometimes four, generations of families. no one can afford to move out.


because expats found that its cheap to live here. and that sucks for Ukrainian middle class because (a) it doesn't exist and (b) it doesn't have a chance to exist because they can't find real jobs to give them enough real money to make a living (like paying skyrocketing rents, skyrocketing food prices, skyrocketing gas prices, etc...).

26 September 2007

free-markets and such

stopped some kid on the street and offered him $10 for the Yulia Tymoshenko shirt he was wearing. i was too late to get the free ones/didn't want to get mauled by the ukrainians mobbing for the free ones.

he ripped the shirt off his back like it were on fire. then he shook my hand.


(for any pc admin type reading this, i want you to know i OF COURSE won't be wearing the shirt in public...in Ukraine.)

23 September 2007

some poetry?

It only took two years for one of my students to find the blog. So, now I’ve gotta be more careful about what I write. Not that I wasn’t careful already, but I was probably slipping as service was coming to an end. Still, DC and Kyiv read our blog pretty much religiously (not a testament to the writing but more indicative of big brother tapping the phone lines) so we don’t say all that we could…or should. Gotta wait for the post-PC book for that. Gotta use my seven journals full of scribbling for something, don’t I?

Less than two months! Actually, 57 days. Of course I’m counting….


I just wanted to pop up here and briefly share a poem one of my students—we’ll call him T—wrote in one of my classes. I asked for a volunteer who wouldn’t mind if I shared his or her poetry—in the lesson, we were discussing symbolism in poetry. A boy raised his hand and I present you his poem.

Man go to fishing in village. In village

he breading a fresh air. Man

go to village in horse.

There are good dishes.

My friend skiing

on snowboard on snow.

My friend can skiing to 12 o’clock.

More refreshing than his grammatically flawed, yet original (praise God) prose was the fact that though the rest of his group mates ditched their class (their teacher just didn’t come to school that day), T came into my class and asked if he could join our lesson. He wanted to learn English, he said. He didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I was happily shocked.

So here’s to you T! Good work!

02 September 2007

Game On!

As many volunteers discover, when you are passionate about something it shows in the way you approach your work in that realm. Softball has been my passion for most of my life. It taught me many important lessons in life, some more difficult than others, and I am lucky to have had so many opportunities to play ball.

Last Fall some volunteers in Lutsk invited me to help them with a softball clinic, specifically with pitching. I was excited for the chance, though weary after a negative softball experience last summer which involved young men with big egos, coaches with limited baseball knowledge who liked to argue, and little girls getting yelled at for striking out. This experience was completely different and restored my hope for Ukrainian girls learning softball.

I met many bright, motivated girls who were not afraid to try something new. Softball is not easy, and there are a lot of points which we take for granted (like which direction to run after hitting the ball, which hand the glove goes on, etc). Underhand fastpitch requires a lot of patience and practice, yet these girls were determined to listen to what I had to offer and try their best to improve.

I thank the volunteers in this area who have tirelessly created a softball league from scratch, who even wrote a grant to build the region's first softball field. They have created a positive environment for these girls to learn important lessons like teamwork and perserverence, and have created the opportunity for them to participate in a productive activity during their abundant free time.

Here are some photos of me passing along my love for softball, which my parents encouraged by enduring endless travelling tournaments, scraped knees and tears of frustration, and hours on uncomfortable bleachers. Play Ball!