I have time! I can’t believe it! Recently, things have slowed down and I’ve been able to get my head straight and think about the fact that I’m actually going home. In 2 days, I head to Kiev; then to France; and then home to see my family for the first time in 27 months. I am so excited!
Now I am just wrapping up my service and preparing to say goodbye ot everyone. However, I decided to have one last event. During Fall break, I had a camp for boys and girls on the topic of Leadership. Janine and Charlie came to help out and it was great! We had 14 girls and one boy. He was very brave. The camp had topics such as public speaking, sexual health, volunteerism, LGBT awareness, and abortion. The lessons on LGBT awareness and abortion were particularly effective. Many of the girls [and boy] had some misconceptions about the LGBT community. As for the topic of abortion, they were all surprised about the statistics related to abortions in Ukraine-the average # of abortions during the Soviet Union was 12 per woman; 78% of abortions are done by women who reject all unnatural methods of birth control; 24% are done by woman who use contraception including condoms and “The Pill”; more women die every year from complications during birth than those who die from abortions; about 45% of women in Ukraine have had at least one abortion, which is one of the highest abortion rates in the world. So as you can see, there was a lot to learn. The last day, we had a relay race, played some games, and congratulated Janine on her birthday. [I feel like I am writing like how a Ukrainian would write in English….]
My birthday was two weeks ago! I love birthdays, except in Ukraine. In America, if it’s your birthday, you can do what you want; stay in bed, read a book, watch a movie, or throw a party. But it is never so much work that you’re stressing yourself out and not enjoying your birthday; I don’t think I’ve ever had to prepare so much for my birthday that I hated it. In Ukraine on the other hand, you have to prepare a full meal for your friends, sit for 4+ hours and talk and drink, and you have to pay for it all yourself. A birthday in Ukraine is about your friends. Sometimes they give you money, but in my two years experience, it doesn’t cover everything. Also, this is REQUIRED. It’s not a choice.
Last year’s birthday party!
This birthday, I was in the kitchen for hours; I made apple pie, deviled eggs, stuffed potatoes, bruschetta, white bean dip, dark chocolate orange fudge cake, and Sangria. I was really excited about it, even though I had to prepare everything a day in advance, (I love sharing American culture).Then, I brought it all to school and sat through four hours of my teachers ignoring me and making no effort to include me in the conversation, which was in Russian, even though the party was with English teachers.
It wasn’t all bad though. The next day I invited a bunch of Americans over and we went to the Sauna for four hours, ( a sauna is a steamed room where you sit and sweat out all your toxins). I thoroughly enjoy this tradition. It was an awesome night and a great way to make up for the day before. I also got rid of a bunch of stuff and now I am closer to having my apartment packed.
After that, I went to Janine’s town where I helped her with a camp similar to the one I had. Her students were upper and university students though. The camp was three days long and ended with an awesome Halloween party.
I got the calendars! 160 of them. After heading home from Janine’s, I went to Donetsk and picked them up. It was SO HEAVY! I had to go on a bus and stand for a hour until I got to my town where the box broke in the middle of the road! It was terrible! Luckily I was close enough to home that I could leave half the calendars and come back to get them.
It looks something like this:
To say goodbye to my English club, I had a party. The theme was MUSTACHES. Girls and boys were required to come with a mustache. It was super silly. We danced, ate, played games and I made a goodbye video for my students. So sad….They are my favorite part of Ukraine.
I did a conference in Donetsk for 100 English teachers. Wasn’t too exciting, but its nice to work until the very end…makes me feel accomplished! I taught the teachers how to use games in the classroom. They loved Jeopardy!
I also went to Dnipropetrovsk to say my last goodbye to my group. I took my Ukrainian friend with me. She said it was super interesting to be surrounded by Americans and to try American food! Albeit, very overwhelming.
So, almost home….I find myself often looking around me and trying to take permanent mental pictures of everything around me. But I’ll be back…I’m sure of it. 🙂