Happy New Year! Bring it on 2012!!!
What a great year 2011 was…here is a short recap:
I spent the first day of the new year with my neighbor and her nephews eating tons of tradition Ukrainian food. I started teaching my first official classes of the year. I went to Germany and then Austria to visit my sister. I spent the summer mostly traveling except for one week at Camp HEAL. I started school again. I wrote and submitted a grant for new books for my school. My students from Camp HEAL helped me to conduct HIV/AIDS training to students in my school.
So now, one year of service left and I’m starting it out with a bang. The Deputy Director of ALL Peace Corps is coming to my site! Also there will be the Director of PC Ukraine and two other high-ups from the PC Ukraine office. Fantastic! Apparently it has something to do with PC Washington wanting to see how the Ukrainian PC program is working. Our regional manager is one of the most experienced so he was chosen to show off his volunteers. Me and Conor also are some of the lucky few!
As far as the book project goes, it’s a kind of sad story. It looks like I will have to change the budget and just accept what I have been able to raise ($1080 of $4123.71). Either that or I will extend the project until February and hope that sending 100 more requests will convince someone my project is a worthy cause. Its kind of a downer, but I guess some books are better than none.
Christmas was a BLAST! I bought stockings for each of my friends and I sewed their names on each on in Russian, except Johanna’s was in Ukrainian on accident… I had over Johanna, Conor, Janine, and Charlie. Janine is another PCV and Charlie is the guy that trained with me a year ago. On Christmas Eve we went to my towns comedy club to celebrate their (10th?) anniversary. It was funny, what I understood of course. Then everyone headed back to my place for some cards and board games. (No alcohol of course).
Christmas morning was awesome. We did a secret Santa to lessen the costs, but of course I got Conor and Conor had me. I got Conor an awesome Russian style hat and a matching scarf and he got me a Russian version of Monopoly, (which is complicated when you forget the rules). After that, we got ourselves in the true Christmas spirit by watching “Home Alone“. We then went to our local pizza place for lunch and then for supper the girls put together some tradition American foods for a full Dinner. We had peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, a whole chicken (my first time cooking a WHOLE chicken and it was great!), an American style salad, and an apple Pie. Small, but perfect. We topped the evening off by watching an American classic, “Rush Hour.”
New Year’s Day was just about as awesome. This time it was spent with Johanna and Conor and some Ukrainian friends. Ha…but this night started off a little strange. Firstly, we started off the evening with us 3 volunteers and our good friend Sergui playing with my new Monopoly game in the office. Around about 11:30pm, we made the decision that we wanted to go outside to the big tree to celebrate New Year’s with the crowd. (In America, I would assume the town center, near the big Christmas tree would be an ideal place to celebrate, at least for some.) We stepped outside and there was NO ONE. I mean literally the streets were deserted, except for 3 random guys who were selling popcorn and fireworks and somehow knew Conor, though he didn’t know them. (That happens often actually). Ha! So with 25 minutes to go until the new year, we made the decision to run to my house not far away and prepare our celebratory shots there. Maybe its hard to express how funny this is via writing, but it was hilarious and mind-blowing that we would even need to bolt to my house to make it somewhere for the new year. Where were the people??? At 1am, we were summoned by Conor’s organization to celebrate by tree, where we had first assumed the people would be. This time the center was packed and everyone was drinking as expected. So lesson learned: New Year’s is a time to spend with family. After 12am though, everyone heads to the streets to get wasted.
My sister is coming to visit me in a week! This will be my first from anyone since I have been here (16 months!). I am really stoked! We will spend a couple of days in the capital. Then we will go to visit my Babushka that I lived with during training. And then to my city! After this, she will go to Ireland to study abroad for a semester!
Next month I will (hopefully) be taking one of my teachers, Lydia, and a student, Alina, to an HIV/AIDS training, PEPFAR. After that, I will write a grant and we will do some type of HIV/AIDS project in our town, though on a much bigger scale than the training I did.
Anyway, off to bed. If you haven’t has a chance to donate to my project, I would really appreciate anything you can give. Although I doubt we will get all the books, one more donation would at least mean more books. Thank you!