Summer is officially over. Its cold. Sad. But not so bad…Fall is my favorite season, as I may have already mentioned. There were a few birthdays last month in my family! My Dad had a birthday on the 3rd of September; My little sister Stacy turned 19 on September 20th; My little sister Elisa turned 16 on the 28th; and finally my “adopted” sisters Nikki and Maria turned 19 on the 29th. And then this month is my birthday!!! (I’m not too old to still love a birthday. Tee hee.)
So last night I got some bad news that my Grandfather on my Dad’s side passed away at the age of 90. Please send a thought out for him. 😦
Now, a brighter side: I took my English club out for a picnic and it was fantastic! We all met up at 12pm (1pm for some of us!!!) and we headed to a nice spot on the edge of the forest where we were able to overlook the entire Khartsizsk. Conor and Johanna joined us and Conor made a nice little fire for my students to cook marshmallows over (strawberry flavored). We played Frisbee, Twister (Твистер), He-Ha-Ho, and a strange Ninja game that Conor taught us. If you need an explanation of any of these, it may be best to personally ask me…(demonstrations via Skype $5 each). What else did we do….? We made a man-made pyramid, (apparently the first time my students have ever done that) and then we finished by singing songs around the camp fire. My lovely student Mary made a wonderful video to show you our awesome picnic! Please enjoy!
In the news last week, there was a very important article about how women in Saudi Arabia can now vote and run in elections for the Shura Council, (The advising council to the king). For those of you who do not know, women have little to almost no rights in Saudi Arabia, including the right to drive and divorce. I decided to teach this article in my classes this week and then follow up by having a discussion. To allow for an open discussion, I told my students that they could speak in Russian, as long as they spoke slowly and allowed time for other students to translate for me when I didn‘t understand. Wow! It was awesome! Some girls who never spoke were suddenly passionate and talkative to protect their rights and defend against the few off comments that indicated women were not equal. What really blew my mind is that I started off the discussions by asking if the student thought women were equal in Ukraine. Almost always, all the students answered yes. I would then say I disagreed, giving examples of women getting paid less, receiving promotions slower than men, and even men abusing women in jobs that they thought were only for men, (e.g. police, army, miner).This blew the students’ minds. They had no idea.
This last weekend, Conor and I went to a Jewish festival in Dnepropetrovsk to celebrate the Jewish new year. It was fantastic! A wonderful volunteer, Avital, arranged it all and she did a great job. The festival began with being paired up with a random person who you would spend the rest of the day with. I was paired with Adam. He was great and hilarious. We were supposed to ask each other serious questions about life, such as “What is your worst and best memory of the past year?”. While we did do this, we also managed to have a conversation about how babies are made, (apparently they come from watermelons). Ps….check out this funny picture. This is how baby carrots are made.
Anyways, the day was intense….the questions got deeper and deeper. It was cool though to see how this was normal for Jewish people. Every question was intertwined with a type of food which also had a deep message and then a blessing to go along with it. (complicated much?) For example, they dip apples in honey to represent the sweetness of upcoming year, and then we talked about something great we hoped for in the new year.
After the festival, we headed to a bowling alley. Unfortunately, we were a little late after grabbing a bite to eat so I didn’t bowl. Then we went to a comfy little restaurant that proceeded to fill up with strippers. Actually, back up, let me tell you all about this restaurant. (Which PS, at night turns into a bar, but to clarify, I am not drinking obviously as I am on medication for TB [the non-active/non-dangerous kind]). Anyways, American volunteers have a reputation for liking to dance…(blowing off steam from failed projects?), so when the music started, we pretty much took over the dance floor. The Ukrainians didn’t really like this. Firstly, the night we chose to come was apparently also the same night 2 strippers would compete to be the best dancer, (allowed in a public restaurant? yes.). Secondly, though we all like to dance, we cannot dance. As is we dance badly. Compared to Ukrainian girls, who take pride in their ability to sexy-dance and may also spend hours in-front of the mirror practicing. This is a cultural difference, not an insult, to clarify.
So, we are all dancing, having a good time and enjoying being away from site, when we were kicked off the dance floor! Then they had the two strippers dance. Crazzzzy revealing outfits and dancing literally like they were in a strip club. (Legs over shoulders, splits, on the talble, etc). Some of the volunteers started to get angry, (as many volunteers are strong feminists). I’m not sure how I felt….surely it is not ok to have this dancing in a public restaurant, but I guess they seemed to be having fun…Curious about responses.
Lastly, BOOK PROJECT! The grant was approved and it is now on internet. For your convenience, you can follow this link: https://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate.contribute.projDetail&projdesc=343-264 but it only lasts a week until they update the website. Permanently, you can go to Peacecorps.gov/donate (Project #343-264)
My student Mary made a very lovely video to promote our project so please follow this link and enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h64EFNCMIwk&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
As I already said, this project is super important and we need these books so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE donate! If possible, can you please repost this video on any internet networking sites you have and show this video to everyone! WE NEED HELP!!!!!!
THANK YOU AND AS ALWAYS I LOOOOVE COMMENTS!!!! 🙂