Know My Velocity

My Peace Corps Experience in Ukraine

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  • My name is Casey and I'm going to Ukraine with the Peace Corps to help develop non-governmental organizations. This is my adventure, and I'd like you to know my velocity.
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Week two.

Posted by defyphysics on April 8, 2011

Sunday April 3rd

The last few days have been decent. Nothing out of the ordinary until today. Sunday is our only day off, and mine was action packed. I got to sleep in! Then, I was told to clean my room, but evidently did a poor job and was showed how to do it next time. I think I’ve got it now. Then, some family of my host family came over and I said my awkward hello’s in Ukrainian, which was even more awkward because they speak Russian. They seemed very nice though. My host mom’s niece came over, and she spoke English really well. We talked, I showed her pictures of America, and we were able to translate through my host mom, who evidently is worried about me. I think that being able to talk through her niece helped both of us out a little. Next, Dima showed me how to hand wash my clothes. We have a washing machine, but Peace Corps wants trainees to learn to hand wash the first three weeks of training in case our home does not have a washing machine. It’s actually kind of relaxing in an odd way. I enjoyed it. I normally hate laundry too!

Once I got my clothes soaking and finished talking to the niece, I met the other volunteers for some “football” (soccer for you Americans). We played with a few Ukrainian boys who were really good. For the first 45 minutes I kept up with them, but after that it was everything I could do to half keep up. The vast amounts of good food I’ve been eating since I’ve been here has not increased my stamina, that’s for sure. We played for a good 2 hours. Then we stopped by the store and got some much needed water. When I got home, Dima had some friends over, and we had a backyard BBQ. I had a great time. They spoke bad English, I spoke bad Ukrainian, but we got along really well. Overall, today was very uplifting and stress relieving.

Monday April 4th

Today was the antithesis to yesterday. Four hours of language classes, an hour of technical training, and then an hour and a half of tutoring. It was rough. My heart wasn’t in the language class today, and my tutoring with my LCF Looda was stressful. She asks what you need help with, and she works on your weaknesses, which is like doing a bunch of heavy weightlifting with a muscle you don’t like to use. Everyone in the cluster walks out of tutoring feeling mentally bruised and battered. When I got out I went to Amanda’s and we studied a bit and then talked about things. That helped. I also called “X” tonight because I heard she had a similar experience today, and even though I was already feeling better, it helped (Thanks X!). I’m sure she feels better about things too. That’s what clustermates are for. I’m sure Adam and Amanda will need some support when their tutoring comes later this week. Tomorrow we have some classes and head to Chernihiv to talk to an NGO there. I’m excited to see how an NGO in Ukraine operates, and hopefully I can come up with some good questions to ask. The worst part is having to wear a suit. After dressing up the last few weeks everyday, I’ve never cherished Jeans and a tshirt as much as I do now.

Thursday April 7th

Today was very tiring, but that was because last night was such a good night. My whole cluster came over to my place last night, and some of Dima’s friends came over. We hung out, practiced our terrible Ukrainian language skills with them, and they practiced their slightly better English with us. We all had a great time. The volunteers left at a decent time but I stayed up talking to some of Dima’s friends, and eventually after some communication frustrations we were on google translate. We spent a long time on there talking about my experiences in America, my travels etc, but the most interesting subject to me was their perception about Ukraine and its future. They seemed excited and scared about the future of their country. If you know anything about Ukraine, you’d know they have had very trying times. I found that they all want changes in their country and they thought what I was doing was important. I would love to be able to focus my time towards this young adult age group, because they truly have the most to gain and the most at stake when it comes to development of the country. I would love to be able to empower this age group, and give them tools to turn their country into what they envision it to be. I hope this gives me some extra drive in my language classes! I hope I can also find a way to focus some of my community development on this age group. Last night was very encouraging!

On a side note, today’s odd moment was walking down the village street with the clustermates after visiting Chernihiv. We heard something slightly above us and to our right, only to see a dog on a barn roof. It was shaggy and looked more like a yeti than a dog.

Tomorrow we visit the organization we’ll probably do our training project with. It is the local “house of culture”. I’m excited to see what they’ll have us do, but I’m not excited about wearing a suit yet again. When I go home for Christmas, I’m definitely finding a suit that feels like pajamas. I don’t know how people wear suits all day every day! Anyway, I’m now two weeks into living with my host family and I’m feeling more at home every day. I can’t wait to be able to tell them how grateful I am for their hospitality and letting me stay in their house. The clustermates and I have decided that at some point in our lives we will host someone from another country wherever we end up. It is a cool experience, and something I’d like to be on the other side of at some point.

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One Response to “Week two.”

  1. Wynne T. Black said

    Hello,

    My students and myself are really enjoying your blog. Very exciting. Cannot wait for a live report. Sounds like you are settling in.

    Mr. Black

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