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Adventures in Kolomyia

This weekend I traveled to Kolomyia, a town in the next oblast (region) to help at another Peace Corps Volunteer’s English seminar. My friend Sean teaches at a school that specializes in English, and he had fifty kids voluntarily sign up to come to school on a Saturday for an English seminar conducted by PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers). I think if I hosted an English seminar at my school, I’d be lucky if 10 kids showed up. I’d be really lucky if 5 kids stayed through the whole program 😉

The kids were divided up into four teams, which each represented a different country. The kids then had to come up with a team name, motto, and poster. I explained this to my group, and asked them for suggestions for a team name. The top three suggestions consisted of “The Jobbies” (RIP Steve Jobs, even kids in Ukraine will miss you!), “Green Angels,” or “Green Day.” It was a close race, but in the end Team USA was named “Green Day” and our motto was “We will win cause we are green!” (And no, not green in the environmental sense, but green in the sense that it was our team color). My team was hilarious : )

Each team then attended four lectures: Art & Dance, Civil Rights, Folk Music, and Citizenship. I taught the lesson on Art & Dance with Eddie, another PCV who I’d never met before. We really hit it off and had a blast teaching together, with him leading the art aspect of the lesson, and me being in charge of dancing. And by dancing, I mean “Cha-Cha Sliding.” Yes, you read that correctly. We put the Cha-Cha Slide up on a projector, moved all the desks out of the way, and taught the kids how to “slide to the left,” “cha-cha,” “Charlie Brown,” and “how to get down low, all the way to the floor.” Some groups had more success than others, but all in all it was a blast. Eddie refused to dance for the first two lessons, but for the last two lessons I succeeded in getting him to cha-cha with us. I think the kids had fun, and when I think of the lesson they got in American culture from Eddie and I, I can’t help but smile 🙂

The next day happened to be a holiday in Kolomyia, known as the “Day of the Region.” The celebration started with a parade where a contingent of people from every town and village marched in traditional costumes. I think I’ve mentioned before that in Ukraine every town or village has a different folk costume. Some costumes are very similar to other towns’ and villages’ costumes, and others are completely different. Also in costume were Sean and Shaun, 2 of Kolomyia’s 3 Peace Corps Volunteers (its a very large town). Both were involved in helping celebrate the “Day of the Region,” with Shaun serving as photographer and Sean volunteering as a folk dancer. I was really impressed with Sean’s moves and took a video to document the effort; I’m sharing it here so you can observe Ukrainian folk dancing, and so you can try to guess which dancer is an American posing as a Ukrainian. Can you spot the interloper???

My guess is that you couldn’t figure out which dancer was the American, because Sean danced really well and looked quite Ukrainian in the video. So here’s a picture of us: this is the American “Hutsul” Sean and myself at the “Day of the Region” festival. In case you’re wondering, a “Hutsul” is the name of a Ukrainian highlander from the Carpathian Mountains. So pretty much, a Ukrainian mountain man. I think Sean makes a pretty handsome “hutsul” myself 😉

In closing, I’m going to share another video—this one is of a Ukrainian folk rock band that I really enjoyed watching. There were very entertaining and sang in Ukrainian so I could even understand the lyrics! In this song, they’re poking fun at “hutsuls” by saying that their band has 3 musicians and 1 hutsul (the lead singer being the hutsul). Enjoy 🙂