Friday, December 30, 2011

holla back дід мороз

cultural update
ukraine and russia's bedazzled santa clause (дід мороз - father frost) with his granddaughter (снігуронька - snow maiden) who takes style tips from queen amidala are the stars of the new years and christmas holiday season here in ukraine.

Myrhorod rang in his arrival with a free concert that i accidentally fell into - молодець мені
i will have these skillz mastered

twas a village christmas

with the american christmas season come and gone, ironically as I write this post which will have had its "post date" altered, ukraine feels more like our traditional christmas for many reasons.
my project will all my
english clubs
  • it finally started snowing
  • ukrainian christmas falls on the seventh of january
  • christmas trees (or new years trees) go up around the twenty eighth of december
  • stores in town have lights and santa paraphernalia
  • і тд.
however, that doesn't mean I can't bring / force some "early" holiday cheer to the students in my school. a lot of our american traditions for christmas and new years are combined in ukraine, which makes distinguishing between the holidays much more difficult for myself during the holiday season. 
that sadly took about 25 minutes to perfect

the 25th ended up being pretty low key. with just a small"ish" gathering of local friends over some chilled beverages, tunes of christmas carols, white elephant exchange, and intense discussions over the super powers. it was just enough america to get you back in the holiday spirit for the evening even though outside that apartment door the holiday spirit hadn't picked up yet.

the big finale before holiday break, schools put on a play of sorts where santa and his granddaughter are the main star. kids dress up in costumes (not quite sure why) and go hybrid carol / trick-or-treat for money or candy.  

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dec 1: World AIDS Day

What some of you may not know about the country where I currently serve, but Ukraine has the fastest growing HIV rate and the largest population of reported HIV infected individuals in all of Europe. Sadly it's a very hushed/controversial subject (understandably) where even in schools the main aspects regarding HIV transmission is just overlooked and untaught. Furthermore, a large proportion of Ukraine's older generation is under the pretense that this issue isn't one of Ukraine's, but of that of other third world countries.
1.4% of Ukraine's population is reported HIV positive
1% is the minimum requirement to be considered an epidemic
the tourism regions of the south are highly affected
While working in Kozelets, the lesson I taught on HIV/AIDS had to be "edited" due to sensitivity issues. I was glad to hear that in my new school had an open policy and a faculty mentality that all the information should be available for it's students to hear. 

 anti AIDS posters students made at my school

The HIV/AIDS working group provided lots of material and ideas to jump start my lessons and trainings I have sense held on the topic. Using my school as a gauge, I have sense held Healthy Lifestyle training sessions on HIV/AIDS, stigma/discrimination, smoking, and alcoholism at what I think is up to six different schools in neighboring villages! While obviously I don't teach in perfect Ukrainian and I'm thankful for my Ukrainian partner to back me up, it's been a great way to meet and reach an audience of students outside my own school. Not to mention utilize some of my micro bio knowledge!

I did a showing of A Closer Walk which features Ukraine as one of the three countries it focuses on in regards to the AIDS crisis. If interested, I highly recommend you to watch it - my students found it very personal.