Monday, October 24, 2011

Fievel Goes West... but just for a week

This be what hot beats I be listening to On'n'On - Justice

I'll be frank, if you don't know what movie this post is referencing, we probably shouldn't be friends / the film warrants a spot in your Netflicks queue or at least an illegal streaming.

So truthfully if you remove Fievel's jacket, cow boy hat, gun (because they're outlawed for the public to own), and add a mustache he could probably pass as a Ukrainian cossack. I'm now realizing I've put way too much thought into this - maybe I should go to bed?


So schools in Ukraine celebrate autumn by taking a week off, or in the case of my school, two weeks. So in light of a week with nothing planned, I decided to go visit my clustermate Mary-Kathryn at her site in Chernivets'ka Oblast and help her at her work for a couple days and then do some site seeing in the area. 

Starting off at her site, the Jamaican sounding town of Kitsman, I managed to take only 1 photo (which MK was not too pleased about) however I feel it definitely encompasses all that is Kitsman. 
While in Kitsman, I/we managed to...
  • cook mac and cheese for her work English club
  • "correct" her apartment
  • meet her cool sitemate who also is fond of making fun of midwestern accents
  • be presumed as MK's Romanian "man"
Like any good excursion, I had to check another Oblast center off the list. With my guilde book not prompting any real excitement for what could be found in Chernivtsi, and I quote, "with Chernivtsi such a jumble of sights, and perhaps only the university a crucial one...", MK showed me around. Chernivtsi isn't any major city in Ukraine but it was very pleasant. I always seem to time weather in the West because it was an awesome day. My one word description of the city would be pastely, and it has a crazy university. Examples can be found below:

From there, we moved on into the Ivano-Frankivs'ka Oblast. The place with the giant egg (an annotation I added to my guidebook), or to Kolomyia was our next stop. Kolomyia is actually home to our first of many LCFs, so we got an expedited locals tour because he had to be on our way to Ivano later that day.  
symmetry makes me smile
Ivano is like a mini L'viv, with tourism slowly building. A stronger ability in the Ukrainian language is needed here over L'viv, with English rarely heard. Speaking Russian here would definitely grant you a few stink eyes - which I kind of enjoyed. I've observed that certain regions claim more pride to their Ukrainian heritage over others. Coming from a region where both Russian and Ukrainian is spoken interchangeably, communication is often more complicated. Anyways, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

surprisingly good food
a young Shevchenko
safety first
 Good times followed on our train back to Kyiv, platskart (4th class) you never let me down.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Triwizard Tournament - Ukr Version

Maybe it’s because I finally finished the last Harry Potter novel a few weeks ago but I find myself trying to find references to Mr. Potter in all aspects of my life, hence the name of this post. 

So come Tuesday and Wednesday I found myself not in school but rather on the school marshrutka packed with students to a neighboring village, unaware and anxious for what the future had in store. 

And when I say packed, I don’t think Americans can comprehend the Ukrainian version of packed. Not like every seat was filled, but like every seat was double filled with people also standing (safety always comes first, right)? But I really think this sort of forced interactions (both social and physical) between students of young and old really creates a more cohesive student body where they look out and care for one another. It’s been really interesting to be part of such a small school coming from an educational system where there was 3000 people in my high school. 

Sorry, tangent...

Arriving revealed hundreds of kids and an amass of other school buses at a school. I procured later that 11 different schools within the rayon arrived to partake in an annual competition between schools (hence the triwizard reference). 
My self imposed role was photographer and moral booster (the masculine word for cheer leader). Let me tell you, this “ish” was pretty legit. 

Once the singing and dancing ended, all the adidas wear was busted out - those symbolic 3 stripes were everything. It's crazy how much that company has such a hold on Ukraine. 
Competitions included, though not limited too (I couldn’t see everything)
  • History of the region
  • Traditional Ukrainian Dancing
  • Singing
  • Long / short distance running
  • Jump roping
  • Obstacle relay races
    • everything thing from leap frog to hula hooping
  • Long jump
  • etc...
The only way to describe it was an odd track and field / academic league competition. It was by far the best few days I’ve had at school, I feel I really meshed with my target audience. 
Harkushyntsi school ended up placing 4th which wasn't too shabby.
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Monday, October 10, 2011


One may presume this acronym to be similar to YMCA however you'd sadly be mistaken. The PYLC or the Poltava Youth Leadership Convention is a four day leadership summer training that goes on in Poltava (the oblast center) where students are bused in from all over the oblast to improve leadership and project design and management skills / hopefully чуть-чуть fun. While I didn't attend the training over the summer, a refresher weekend training was held which I was able to participate.

While this camp was mainly designed by PCVs, what separates it from other camps I've been involved in was that the activities were held in Ukrainian (or Russian). While I would like to say my Ukrainian is that supurb that I could teach a solid lesson on budgeting, sadly I cannot. Fortunately staffing the event were also Ukrainian trainers, who were awesome. In my village I seldom get to engage with Ukrainian twenty somethings so it was a welcomed change.

From my perspective the event was basically
  • lesson facilitating 
  • eating watermelon
  • forced embarrassment
  • painting
  • making monies
Now I feel I need to clarity
  • a watermelon eating competition was held to show students possible fundraising options. I happened to have eaten a massive lunch before hand, hence I lost
  • embarrassment will be left unclarified
  • painting refers to posters creation 
  • making monies refers to soliciting nationals to partake in a photo shoot to raise money for a kindergarden

In the words of Borat Sagdiyev

Sunday, October 02, 2011