First of all, I have to give a shout out to my brother because yesterday he turned 25!!! Happy birthday Heath : )
This week has been pretty busy here in Kolychivka, for a lot of different reasons. First of all, this was our first week teaching lessons individually. Up until now, I’ve team-taught all my lessons, usually with Andrew. But this we both taught solo, and it went really well! It was nice team-teaching and having someone to back you up, but I’m glad we’re getting a taste of the real thing now. We won’t have teaching partners next month when we ship out to our sites!
We also got our original language teacher, Natalia, back! She came back Sunday and it was so good to see her : ) So we’ve been having our language classes with her this week, and she said we’ve improved a lot since she left. So I’m glad all the intense classes with Natalia (the second) paid off : ) Now that Natalia (the first) is back, everything feels like normal. I’ve come to think of my cluster-mates like my family in Kolychivka, and I’m so glad to be here training with them. Sometimes we drive each other crazy, but I know they’ll be the first people I call in December when we ship out to our new sites. Here is a picture of us in Natalia’s house, where we spend tons of quality time bonding in Ukrainian ; ) From left, we have: Andrew G, Tammela, me, Janira, and Andrew K (who we usually refer to as Andy so as to avoid confusion).
And while I’m mentioning Ukrainian lessons at Natalia’s, I’ll also share a picture of the Wall of Pain (which is what I call it in my head). Every chart of verb conjugations and case endings and possessive pronouns that Natalia makes, she posts on the wall so we can refer to it when we’re talking and trying to remember the right words. We also refer to it when we mess up, which is pretty often most days : ) I think Ukrainian grammar hates me. But don’t worry, the feeling is definitely reciprocated 😛
This week has also been incredibly busy because we had our Fall Festival at school today! So in addition to teaching our lessons and having Ukrainian language lessons, we also had to finish planning, advertising, and decorating for this festival. The plan was to have a Fall Festival explaining the American holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Each of us was in charge of a booth at the festival, so Tammela was in charge of “I am thankful for…” (Thanksgiving), Janira was in charge of Arts & Crafts (for both holidays—hand-traced turkeys for Thanksgiving, and ghosts and pumpkins for Halloween), Andrew was in charge of Trick-or-Treat (Halloween, of course!), and Andy was in charge of the admission table and selling tickets for the lottery. We all chipped in little odds and ends we brought from the US as lottery prizes, and the kids were really excited to win American goodies.
I was in charge of music and the game Musical Chairs. I had a bunch of Halloween music on my laptop from back in the day when I was in Ireland. We had a huge Halloween party there, and my Mom sent me American candy, cat ears for a costume, and a CD of Halloween music. So the music came in handy twice! Songs like “The Monster Mash” and “The Purple-People-Eater” were perfect for setting the tone for our festival.
So this morning I taught my fifth-grader class, and afterwards reminded them to come to the Fall Festival. Some of them asked me about costumes, and I told them they could dress up if they wanted. I was surprised they were so familiar with the concept of Halloween, as its not celebrated here in Ukraine. I think one of the Peace Corps training groups from a few years ago held a Halloween party, so they kind of knew what to expect. But when we opened the doors and started the festival, I was still surprised that more than half of the kids showed up in costumes. And I’m not talking about ghost costumes made from bed sheets, but genuinely incredible costumes! So we decided to have a costume contest too, and here’s a picture of the 2 who were our winners.
The festival turned out to be a big hit with the students, and we almost doubled the amount we needed to fundraise to buy the home-reading books for the school. Musical chairs was extremely popular with the rowdy kids, so I had my first taste of unruly junior high children. All in all though, it was a blast and I had a lot of fun too : ) After the festival was winding down, I showed Seraphima (the girl who loves horses from Sunflower Club) pictures of my horses on my computer. She was so excited, and a bunch of kids came over to look too. I showed them the PhotoBooth application on my Mac (it takes pictures with cool settings) and they LOVED having their picture taken with it. I’m including one of the funniest of their pictures so you can see how much fun they were having : )
All this talk about Halloween and Thanksgiving made me think about what I’d be missing at home—with Halloween, nothing! But I will miss Thanksgiving, so eat some turkey for me, okay?
P.S: CLICK ON ANY PICTURES TO MAKE THEM LARGER!