I taught my first lesson. I taught a group of third graders. They were so cute. Every time I would call on a student they would stand up politely, answer, and then sit back down. It made me feel so great inside to teach them and see them eagerly waving their hands to be called upon. The students do this thing here where they rest the elbow of the hand they are raising on their other raised hand so that they can non-stop be raising their hands without getting tired. I will call on one student and the other eager students will continue to wave their hands about until they are sure that the other student has the right answer. Their hands stay in the upright alert position as described above, (without waving), waiting for the next question and then instantly the whole class is in a frenzy to see who can wave the hardest. Its entertaining and annoying in the same moment.
Before my first class I came early to talk with my TCF (Technical and Cultural Facilitator) to make sure my lesson was all planned out and I had enough activities. She said I had plenty of activities planned and I would more than likely run out of time in my lesson to do everything. She was wrong. With 17 minutes left to go I was done with my lesson and I was improvising activities. Luckily, in going over my lesson with my TCF, she realized I had gone through my entire lesson and immediately jumped in and helped me. I felt really disappointed in myself because I had hoped to complete the entire lesson alone but my fellow trainees voted that of all of us I had the best classroom management, so that made me feel better. I just need to SLOW DOWN and plan more activities.
Wednesday was an interesting day. For some reason our LCF thought it would be a great extracurricular activity to help my host mom with yard work. She had us raking leaves (from muddy ground?), picking pears, picking grapes, cutting down trees, and tilling ground. It was tough work and by time we finished we were all sweaty and tired. According to Ukrainian tradition though, we had to eat some food with her to show unity and appreciation. It was late by time we were all done and home but I think we all felt like true PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) after the hard work.
Our LCF had to leave us on Friday. It was sad. But she’ll be back. The Peace Corps rotates the LCFs every 4 weeks so that we can learn from different accents and teaching styles. It is a good idea but we will still miss her. She is great. I made her an apple tort to show our appreciation. We told her she should brag to all the other LCFs that her students loved her so much they made her a cake!
My group makes our first trip to Kiev next week! I am so excited…I haven’t been to the city yet. We drove through it on the way to our site but all we saw was a statue. We supposedly have a scavenger hunt that we have to complete there. We actually were assigned a scavenger hunt this weekend too. Some of the requirements are to take a picture with a bus driver or with a hairdresser. They are a little silly but I think they are meant to get us talking with people. I went to take my picture with someone who works at a grocery story and everyone literally RAN to the back room and refused to come out until I left…I never got my picture.
We went to a museum this past week with our link group in миронивка. The museum was based on Богуслав history and it was super interesting. It was really funny though because when we got to the soviet era of the museum, the lights in the building went out. Surprising? (Joking) Before we went though, we had a cultural session where we discussed feelings about Ukrainian history and it was really interesting to hear perspectives on World War II. In Ukraine, WWII is a really touchy subject and we are recommended not to talk about it. During our session though, we got a chance to question our LCF and TCF and get their perspective on the subject. They both said that Ukrainians (and ex-Soviet countries in general) get really defensive when other countries, such as the USA or Italy as the examples were given, say that they felt they had won the war. The Soviet apparently had the greatest number of casualties and they fought alone three years prior to any US or other foreign help. I’m not a history major so I do not know how much of what was said is actually true but it was really interesting to see my Ukrainian teachers get emotional about the subject and express their views on a war that I had more or less centered around the Atomic bomb and Pearl Harbor. They truly feel that the “Great War” was their war and the affects of the Soviet era and WWII are more than evident in their attitudes and traditions.
I taught my second lesson today. My colleagues said it went pretty well but I don’t feel very good about it. I didn’t run out of activities like last time so that is good, but I also didn’t follow my lesson plan either. I took too long on some activities and then I didn’t have enough time for some others. The high point of the lesson was at the very beginning. For my warm-up activity I taught my students “Some Veggies Went to Sea, Sea, Sea” from VeggieTales. (The handclap included!) and they loved it! It took them a little while to understand why my assistant, Ali, and I were clapping our hands together but once they got it, they loved it and the were all waving their hands wildly in the air to have a turn. My students are third grade by the way, and they are ridiculously adorable. Unfortunately though, we rotate classes next week so today was my last class. Next week I start teaching 9th grade. It seems my students are getting closer and closer to my own age!
My school had a Halloween party on Friday. As Americans, we were asked to bring posters depicting the history of Halloween and typical traditions. We spent and entire afternoon making posters and then when we showed up, we were all embarrassed that our posters were comparatively horrible to their posters. I was impressed. They had pictures of black cats, Jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating and they were all dressed up. The program consisted mostly of the students acting out stereotypical creepy rolls, like ghosts or witches. They also had a few of their own added rituals. It was interesting to watch and honestly was much better than any school Halloween party I have seen in the United States.