The last weekend of April, when I probably should have been packing my apartment, I decided a weekend with my friends was in order and caught a bus to the tiny village of Budyliv, about 4 hours away, where my dear friend Janira lives. Janira was having a dance fundraiser at her school to raise money for new textbooks, and lots of volunteers were coming for the night to help out. I served as a money collector at the door, and as an unofficial photographer. This was actual Janira’s second annual dance fundraiser, and I was impressed with how much her girls’ dancing has improved in the last year. They were cute last year, but they did a great job with their routines this year!
After the girls danced, it was the PCVs turn to provide some entertainment. With Ryan on his banjo and Abe playing the washboard, they introduced Ukrainians to the joy of bluegrass music. Adam brought along his saxophone and tried to explain the concept of jazz in Ukrainian, which was hilarious. But my favorite part was when they tried combining all these instruments, and Shaun joined them on stage to add his voice. They blew the audience away, and definitely created a Ukrainian fan club amongst the teenage girls in the crowd, who loved Adam ; ) Especially when he went down into the audience and made them dance with him!
The show-stealer, however, was Miss Janira herself when she came out at the end of the fundraiser dressed in traditional Ukrainian wear, and led us all in singing the Ukrainian national anthem. The whole audience got to its feet, and there were even tears in some of the babushkas eyes. Janira has definitely won their hearts, it was beautiful to see their response to her : ) She looked quite Ukrainian too!
Janira was exhausted by the time the show was over, but at least she could rest easy knowing it was a huge success. Her girls were happy, they’d raised a lot of money for her project to buy new textbooks for her school, and of course the Peace Corps Volunteers had made quite an impression on the village of Budyliv. I’m pretty sure the girls might start a “We Love Adam” group on Kontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook) to show their adoration. But seriously, congratulations on a job well done Janira!