My Grant Is Officially Open!

Before Christmas, I was working frantically on getting my grant written and submitted to Peace Corps, and its been approved! Peace Corps just posted it online, so now its open and ready to be funded—this is where you come in! If you can contribute financially at all to this project, not only would I love you forever, but you would also be helping a bunch of Ukrainian kids by significantly improving their quality of education. We live in a pretty rural setting here, where just the sight of my laptop brings out the “oooohs” and “ahhhs.” Technology is so impressive to my students; I wish I could explain how excited they get for lessons involving Powerpoint presentations or video clips. I truly believe the technology is the best way to motivate them to learn English, and I know that this grant will drastically change the way our English lessons our taught here in school. This is a way you can be part of the Peace Corps experience, and every dollar counts.

My goal is to raise 2667 dollars, which is very attainable. My community is contributing the equivalent of $1500 (yes, in dollars!) so you can see how serious we are about making this a partnership grant. In Ukraine, it takes 3 months for the average person to make $1000, so $1500 for Ukrainians is a lot. But my school and teachers are determined to make it happen, and we’re even hosting a talent show in an effort to raise money (more on that later!). The total amount of money that will go towards this grant is $4000, which will buy:

  • A computer, white board, a projector, and speakers (we’re trying to cheaply replicate the idea of a Smart Board—the teachers will design materials on the computer and project them onto the whiteboard, which students can write on using dry erase markers!)
  • TEXTBOOKS for my students in the 10th and 11th grades—currently they have no books at all, and every lesson is a struggle trying to make copies of one old, out-of-date book full of errors. Can you imagine teaching English to kids who have no textbooks? They have no incentive to do homework or make any effort outside of class, because they have no resources. My 11th graders are more excited about the textbooks than the new computer we will purchase, and that’s saying something!
  • Xerox Machine: Right now, in order to make copies, children have to go to the only Internet Club in town and pay to copy the teacher’s book. This Xerox machine will make mass distribution of tests and handouts possible for teachers—this is the part of the grant the teachers are most looking forward too! Right now our teachers have to go to class 20 minutes early and write the whole test out on the chalkboard—can you imagine?
  • Establishment of an English Resource Center: this is just a fancy name I adopted for the English library we’re trying to create in the English classroom. I think one of the best ways students can learn English is through self-directed learning, meaning taking the initiative and studying on their own. By creating this library, we’re giving students the chance to get interested in learning English outside of their lessons, through reading for pleasure! I’m hoping to get books in English on a variety of subjects, and even some series such as “Baby-Sitters Club,” the Nancy Drew mysteries, and of course, Harry Potter! I’m currently reading Harry Potter in English with one of my most advanced students that I tutor, and her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds from the new words she’s learning!
  • Teaching Resource Center: Some of the money from the grant will also go towards buying teaching resources for the teachers—books that explain English grammar and how to teach it, books with lesson plan ideas, and special dictionaries that teach idioms, slang, phrasal verbs, and all the complicated parts of English that they usually ask me about—when I leave next year, this will be the way they can find all the answers to their questions about the English language!

So you see, everything is in place for this grant. Here in Sokyriany, we’re planning our talent show fundraiser and begging parents for a 10 greven contribution (a little more than one dollar). And this is my way of asking YOU for your help! Even $5 dollars would help, but I’m hoping you’ll give more 🙂 Look at it this way: the cost of one textbook is $20, or 180 greven. So if you donate $20, you’re supplying one of my students with a textbook and the opportunity to learn English—don’t you want to be a part of that?

What else is in it for you? A HUGE thank-you from myself and from the First School of Sokyriany. I’ve also devised a tangible way of thanking anyone who donates, so here is my system (this is so American of me it makes me chuckle):

  • If you give $1-24: Friendship Partner! Дружба партнера!
    • You will receive a thank-you newsletter, complete with photos and a description of how the grant was implemented, signed with the sincerest thanks of myself and my fellow teachers!
  • If you give $25: Bronze Star Partner! Бронзова зірка партнер!
    • In addition to receiving the thank-you newsletter, you will receive a home-made thank-you card from one of my younger students, in both Ukrainian and English, explaining how excited and thankful the student is about our new English Resource Center!
  • If you give $50: Silver Star Partner! Срібна зірка партнера!
    • In addition to receiving the thank-you newsletter and a home-made thank-you card from one of my students, you’ll also get your name on a plaque here (more like a poster with a list of names, to be honest), to be enshrined in our English Resource Center so students at our school will know the names of their American friends and donors!
  • If you give $100: Gold Star Partner! золота зірка партнера!
    • In addition to receiving the thank-you newsletter, the home-made thank-you card from one of my students, your name on a plaque/poster-board, you’ll also have the pleasure of being thanked in person on Skype! In May, when the grant has been completed (hopefully) we’ll arrange a time to Skype with one of my classes in the new English Resource Center, so you can not only see what your contribution helped create, but also so you can be thanked by some of my students who are most impacted by this grant!

So how do you give? It’s easy! JUST CLICK HERE.

You should see a page just like this:

Look at the panel on the right: it says my name, project number, funds requested ($2667!), funds still needed ($2542!), and then there is a black box with a dollar sign. You simply enter how much you want to donate, and then click “donate” and it will guide you through the process. If you have any questions, just let me know!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and considering being a partner in this grant effort. Your support, even through just reading my blog entries and expressing interest in my work with Peace Corps, means the world to me, and I sincerely appreciate you, regardless of whether you donate or not! 🙂

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