Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Last Bell

We celebrated the last bell on Friday, 24 May. I realized it was my last last bell in Ukraine and so I took a lot of photos, to document and to remind me later. Every great moment felt like saying goodbye, even though we still have seven months left. However, time does not pass in a normal way when you are a Peace Corps Volunteer. I know that seven months will transform into 7 days, into 7 seconds before take off back to America. I've got to stock up on my memory capital. Here's some I'd like to share with you:

Old School Uniforms and Dance
This metaphor is very popular in Ukraine
Setting up the table for eating, drinking, and drinking.
Back at the Liman, smell of fish and salt
Ladies of the Liman 

Three small swallows and a giant falling
We are the tide coming in 
Pioneer Boy lost his hand in battle
Tra la la-ing in the forest
My Manfairy
Congratulations 11th formers on graduating!
Congratulations School 16 for finishing a wonderful year!

Friday, May 10, 2013

April and May Holidays

Look who has come crawling back, out of the dust which lies untouched on the top of all my shkoffs because April was poetry month. Ok fine, that dust has been untouched since forever because I hate dusting, but I did spend an entire month writing poems and stories and one of them is going to be published in the postcard prose section of The Literary Bohemian in June!

Other than writing, I have been waking up to blue skies. It has not rained in weeks and it is sunny every day. You'd think that every day would just melt into the next, but going to a Ukrainian wedding, planning a teacher seminar, showing up to a non-existent parade on May Day, experiencing Orthodox Easter, and seeing Stalin's flag waving on Victory Day have broken the days up quite nicely.

Ukrainian Wedding: Lena and Sasha, 2013!
We went to our friend Lena's parent's apartment to witness the fun and games before the official wedding ceremony. Logan and I stood outside the apartment building where family members and friends were gathered. Sasha arrived and was immediately asked questions in order to be allowed to pass through. We guessed he answered right when he stepped into the building and started up the stairs. We were really confused as the guests trailed behind him, making their way up the stairs too, so we followed them until we made it to the fourth or fifth floor. There, Lena was held captive until the captors were convinced that Sasha was telling the truth as he confessed his undying love to his wife to be, "я люблю тебя!" The ceremony was short and sweet and Logan and I were the only ones who did not bury Lena with flowers. (Why do we always forget the importance of flowers in Ukraine?!) The reception was held at a Crimean restaurant and it was lovely. It was similar to an American wedding reception, but with more games including one where a man had to be wrapped like a baby in a diaper. Sorry for the blurry photos; I was basically dancing the whole night and my camera just can't hand my moves!

Teacher Training Seminar
I received a SPA grant to help promote Leadership and Volunteerism in Ukraine and we had our first seminar this April. My counterpart was ill so a colleague stepped in to help. The seminar was very active, which was perfect, although I wished I could have had a little more time to do a recap at the end. I want to thank the Peace Corps Volunteers that helped me create a living library about Volunteerism at this seminar (Thank you Joey, Rachel, Cynden, and Logan!).

May Day Mayhem
We (Logan, Joey, Cynden, Kristen, Sarah, and I) went to the square in the morning and waited for a parade that never came. We think it was because the mayor is in jail and the intermim mayor has gotten too wrapped up in mayhem to remember to organize a parade to celebrate Melitopol's workers. When we saw no balloons or flags, we decided to walk to Gorkova Park and get some shashlik. After the men left for their camping trip in Crimea, the ladies got together and had a feast with cookies, fruit, champagne, and the like until there were just two of us left. The day was young so Cynden and I called a cab and visited our friends in Krasnaya Gora. I'll let the pictures finish this story.

Ukrainian Easter (Paska)
Orthodox Easter was celebrated on 5 May this year. I went to my counterpart's house and baked some paska (a lot of paska) and the next morning we went to the church to "bless" eggs and bread. We stood outside the church at seven, waiting for the gates to open so we could be pushed in like cattle and find a place to stand in the churchyard. People laid out bottles of wine, opened bags of cheese, uncovered their paska, and the priest came around and sprayed us with water. It was actually really funny. Everyone was laughing, dripping wet,  and wiping water away from their eyes, except Logan who used me, Olya, and her daughter as a shield. 

Victory Day, 9 May
There was no parade for Victory day, either, but there was a ceremony in the center of town. It was a blast from the Soviet past and I loved it. The Ukrainian national anthem, the speeches made by Melitpol's oldest to youngest, the flag of Stalin blowing in the wind, the triumphant singing, the marching, the letting go of balloons, the watching them fly away. A man passed out in the crowd and a woman took photos of him being carried away on a stretcher to an old ambulance that looked like a drawing a little kid made sixty eight years ago.

Oh, and then there was this gem:

Look closely at the family in the background