Thursday, June 16, 2011

Officially a PCV!

With The Dead Weather & The Black Keys playing in the background, I finally got in the mood of updating my blog (odd I know, usually it's Luda Keys that gets me going - or is that Andrea?). So as of 10 days ago, I'm officially a Peace Corps Volunteer in the eyes of both the Ukrainian and US governments! 

And just when I'm in the writing mood I'm being summoned to the yard - I guess I'll come back to this...

Ok, I'm back. However five hours may have elapsed - helped make bbq, blah blah blah, sauna, blah blah blah, ok Kyiv ceremony. 

So I managed to pack all my stuff back into my two big bags, duffel, and backpack except for the some 25 lbs of books that PC decided would fun to give us (not to mention a space heater, fire extinguisher, and fire alarm we received later). I was forced to purchase the infamous "Baba Bag" for the remaining items - I even sprung for the more expensive nice material one at Natasha's advice because it would last longer (which ended up being $2.50). I think it may be my favorite purchase so far. 

The day before my departure we exchanged goodbye gifts.
  • Natasha - micro SD card I had for her new phone
  • Zhenya - duck tape for his car that I believe you can't buy in Ukraine 
  • Sasha - vase for her flowers she planted 
Natasha expressed how they (as in the volunteers she'd had) always have to leave right when they begin to understand the language. 

The final morning of the 13th with the Chornenka's + Sasha was a sad one. Zhenya tried to make me late so the bus would leave without me and I probably broke my back with all the bags. We met up with all the other families and cluster mates which ended up being a hot mess and a giant wet blanket - which we all know how much I love. We took a few final family photos, a large group shot (that I'm still in need of someone to email me), and of course some farewell hugs. We then road off into the sunset... or the pouring rain at 8:30AM.

We were greeted in Kyiv to a welcome lunch which included KIT-KATS (no joke - I flipped)!! Following Lunch was logistical meetings, blah blah blah, and then SITE PLACEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT! I found out I'll be moving to the small village (1,200 people - be jealous) of Harkushyntsi, 10 minutes outside of the rayon center of Myrhorod (43,000 people) in the north eastern part of Poltava Oblast. From what my counterpart is saying, it's a well known vacation spot in Central Ukraine with beaches and resorts - sounds good to me. 
as my host brother Zhenya describes my current village 
found pic of my town on google images - now I just need to find it
It's funny how everyone, including myself, was so hyped up on finding out where they were going that when we finally found out where, it was like oh cool, well I know absolutely nothing about this place and I can't even pronounce it. People fled to maps to find out where geographically they'd be located and others they'd be near to. It was comforting to find out I'd be quite close to three other volunteers in my group. 

The 14th was when we met our counterpart who'd we'd be potentially working with for two years. I actually ended up talking to the wrong Yulia for a good 10 minutes before I realized it - comical after the fact I guess. However my counterpart Yulia is a friendly biology / english teacher who lives in the Myrhorod but works in my town - after our initial  meeting, I think we'll get along well.

The 15th was AIDs prevention day - which only made me think of Team America.

The actual ceremony on the 16th reminded me a lot of my college graduation - lots of standing, speeches, and a little Ukrainian boy playing the accordion (he was bomb). 
Also, Natasha and the other families from Kozelets came to the ceremony which was really awesome. Lots of news crews caught the action.
A sum up of the event can be found here. However because of my train departure time, I literally had to leave 15 minutes after the ceremony ended so I really was only able to say a quick hi / goodbye to Natasha, some of my cluster, and the refreshment stand. As frustrating as it was, I realized I only live three to four hours away - unlike some of my cluster that live 14 hours away, hahaha. 

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