Sunday, October 23, 2011

Good Feelings, aka пят, пят, пят.

I've been having good feelings lately, about Ukraine and the people that surround me.

I wasn't sure what was going on at first as I arrived late to a concert at Lyceum 32, where I teach. My cluster friend and I were standing on our toes at the auditorium entrance, peering over the heads of high school students to see the stage. Two young male students were dancing behind a young lady singing and they proceeded to strip down to leotards and fancy steps. A Ukrainian teacher spotted us and found us seats so we could get closer to the action. The show went on. The young ladies took turns reciting poetry, declaring what they loved the most about Ukraine, and singing songs. There was a group of three teachers holding up little blue signs with numbers on them, which were scores for the competitors. The concert was a competition for the title of Fall Queen, дама осен. The winner was a very serious performer and an excellent singer. пят, пят, пят, so said the signs.

After the show, we went to a nearby cafe to meet with some other Peace Corps volunteers. A young man approached us at the table and graciously asked us if he could practice his English. He asked for all of our names (we were at a table of 8) and I introduced myself in Russian. For the rest of the conversation, he thought I could translate for him, which I liked, but I had no idea what he was asking me to translate!

Our (my cluster's) time in Kiev was a great time of being lost, asking for directions, denying taxi rides, awkwardly approaching strangers, and taking in the beautiful architecture and charming side streets.

Being there reminded me of my city life in New York: crowded subways, people watching, expensive everything, and just wandering happily along. Asking for directions was the easy part--it's the responses that were hard to understand. Two old men in the metro station helped me figure out that we needed to transfer at a different station. I love the little lights that go on in my head when I understand something, even if it's small. Even if it's way too late. So far, understanding comes after the fact for me. I find myself saying, "OH!!!! That's what was going on there" a lot. It's pretty awkward and funny, but it's better than never understanding, I say (now, anyway!). I'd love to go back to Kiev and explore more, especially as I get a little better at Russian (with every day, I think). Here are some photos from Kiev:


I said yes.

Add your own caption for the guys in the poster on the top left.

I walked around the Bazaar on Saturday in search of wall paper. Instead, I bought a nice warm scarf. I think I'm ready for winter. I will survive the frost, snow, and darkness! Right? I'm thinking positively while the sun is still shining and the icicles aren't hanging from my nose.

Frosty morning walk
Saturday was also the first time I cooked for my host family! It was nice to move around and really get to know the kitchen. I haven't cooked in so long and I miss it. I also miss Italian food. I made Chicken Cacciatore and it was pretty good, though I miss my spice rack. It felt pretty awesome when my host father got a second helping, though:)

English Club at the library was awesome. There were about 15 attendees and there was a really great discussion about the future--the future of ourselves and of our countries--and I learned a lot about different Ukrainian mentalities and I shared mine with the group. Next week, we're trying to organize a volleyball game with some of the English Clubbers--which should probably be our team name.

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