Saturday after our last cross-cultural class, my cluster mates and I took the bus to the next village, Ivanivka, where another Peace Corps training group lives. They were doing their community project and invited us to come watch, so we went to show our support. Their project was a talent show called “Ivanivka’s Got Talent,” and they had kids from their school perform in it. They started the show off by singing “We will, we will rock you!” and they had all the Americans in the audience come and help. It was a blast : ) The talent show went really well, and they had a really big turn out from their village.
For the grand finale, they did this awesome dance routine they made up, but halfway through the routine the backstage guy cut the sound and told everyone the performance was over and it was time to leave. We were all left scratching our heads as to why it ended that way, until afterwards when our friends explained. Apparently Saturday was a day of remembrance for the people who died in the Stalin-engineered “famine” in the 1930s (it wasn’t really a famine, Stalin just chose to withhold food from Ukraine and call it a famine), and therefore it wasn’t an appropriate time to be holding a talent show and having fun. Which is completely understandable, except no one from the town informed the Peace Corps group there that it was a bad day for the event. But apparently someone called the Board of Education and complained, so the Board of Education called the cultural center and told the soundman that the talent show needed to be over. It was an unfortunate ending, but I think all in all the talent show was very successful. I was really proud of the Ivanivka cluster : )
Then on Sunday I had two very special visitors come to Kolychivka! My friends Abby and Lee from Chernihiv, who I went to Kiev with a few weeks ago, came out to visit and see the village. They both live in the city, so seeing a village was a novelty for them. When they arrived I gave them the grand tour of Kolychivka, including sites such as the church, the school, and the 3 little convenience stores. I also pointed out where my fellow cluster mates live, and where we go for language lessons every day. That’s really all there is to see here, so we came back to my house and Anya made a huge lunch for all of us. Lee and Abby are both learning Russian, but Anya speaks Russian fluently as well, so it was no problem. And Anya was thrilled I had friends over, so it was great on all sides : ) It was a really relaxing Sunday, and I’m glad I got to spend it with them!
On Monday, I was finished with class by noon and had the entire afternoon off. So I went to the city to catch up on Skype, and I got to talk to Justin, my best friend from home! It was a great surprise, because we’re never online at the same time. Whenever I have Internet he’s always working, but this morning he had off so we got to see each other on Skype. It was pretty much the highlight of my week : ) I think I’m going to invest in a modem when I move to my permanent site so I can have Internet in my home/apartment. I don’t mind going to the city for Internet, but it would be really wonderful to be able to Skype from my home whenever I wanted! And especially if I end up living alone, I think I’ll definitely need Skype for company. And maybe a cat too. ; )
So this is my last week of training, and my last week in Kolychivka with my cluster-mates and host family. Today (Tuesday) was my last day of Ukrainian language class, because tomorrow I have my LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) with someone from the Peace Corps. Basically, it’s a twenty-minute conversation that determines my language level. I’m not really concerned because I feel pretty comfortable speaking in Ukrainian. And besides, it’s not like you can fail! The goal is to score “Intermediate-Mid;” if your level is lower than this, the Peace Corps assigns you a tutor. If your level is higher, you’re on your own, but free to get a tutor if you want to. And Peace Corps pays for any tutoring, so I think I’ll take advantage of that and continue to work on my Ukrainian!
On Thursday my SDL (I’m blanking on what this acronym stands for… but it’s a Secondary Learning Project type thing) is due. Every PC trainee is supposed to complete a secondary project during training on their own to supplement their language learning, and on Thursday my cluster is doing a show-and-tell session for our SDL projects. I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone does! I actually still have to finish mine, but I’ll post the finished result so you can enjoy it too ; )
That’s all I have to say for now… training has gone by so fast! I can’t believe it’s already time to move on. I’m pretty nervous, to be honest. Starting Monday everything changes, and I’m not sure if I want it to. I’ve gotten used to life in Kolychivka, where I teach English classes and go to Ukrainian lessons with friends, and spend time with a wonderful host family. I even have days off to go to the city and have fun (and use the Internet!), so it really hasn’t been a bad deal. But next week I’ll move to a new place, where I won’t know anyone… I’ll just leave it by saying I’m less than excited.
It’s also weird to think that it’s Christmas time at home… I busted out the Christmas music this week, but it feels wrong to play it knowing I won’t really be celebrating Christmas this year. Christmas is in January here in Ukraine, so no one is talking about it yet. And an interesting fact for you about Ukraine: here, New Years is celebrated with a Christmas tree instead of Christmas! Isn’t that random? I hope someone in my new town/village/city (I don’t know which it will be) invites me home with them so I can see a genuine Ukrainian Christmas. Then this season won’t feel like such a complete bust… I’m also considering spending (American) Christmas (December 25th) with fellow Peace Corps friends. It all depends on where I end up living, and how far away said friends are : / So when I think about the future right now, its not too bright. But maybe I’ll end up living in a fantastic site, near some PC friends, and everything will be great. But I’m trying not to have any expectations so I won’t be disappointed with where I end up. So this weekend I need to do all my packing, because Monday morning I’m headed to Kiev to swear-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer and move onto my permanent site! I can’t believe it’s finally here!
All my love.