Know My Velocity

My Peace Corps Experience in Ukraine

  • 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 4… so far.

Posted by defyphysics on April 23, 2011

Tuesday April 19th

How do I sum up the last few days? I keep thinking “I should put this in my blog,” but I end up not writing one at the end of the day because I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted again today, but today is definitely worth writing about. First, a few things about the last few days!

I think Saturday night I got to meet my host brother for the first time. He is the exact opposite of Dima. He’s tall, lanky, and quiet. He loves listening to music, so on Sunday I got out my ipod and nice headphones my coworkers at Hyatt got me, and he was listening for hours on end. He’s a cool guy and a nice ying to Dima’s yang. Sunday we mostly hung around the house. I hand washed my clothes, which evidently I’m not supposed to do anymore because I got scolded by my host mom when she got back. In the evening, Dima opened a bag of sunflower seeds, or “nisinya” and I thought “hey, I’m pretty good with sunflower seeds, this is my chance to show them I can fit in!” Wrong! A professional baseball player would be shamed by the talent of a Ukrainian eating a sunflower seed. So would a parrot. With amazing grace and skill, the put the seed to their mouth and magically the seed jumps into their mouth and they pull away a seedless sunflower seed shell. Dima says he will teach me, but I just end up crushing the whole shell and getting shell in my teeth. I suppose, of all things, this may be the true test of when I am integrated to Ukrainian society.

On Sunday we sat around home most of the day, which was good because I needed the rest. I studied a little, and I handwashed some laundry, but other than that I sat and watched TV, watched some episodes of Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia on my laptop, and tried to enjoy the nasty rainy day that it was for all it was worth.

Monday we went to class as usual, except during our language class our LCF told us we should reschedule our trip to Kiev for Tuesday. We were excited by the chance of going with our link group, but we didn’t have much choice in the matter. After class Amanda and I went on an impromptu walk, changed into jeans and picked up Dima. We walked a bit and then called X and got her in on the walk. We tried Adam but he was busy with the host family. It was a beautiful evening, and it was fun hanging out with Dima, who has a unique sense of humor. At times, he reminds me of my good friend Mike back when we first met, if Mike had spoke mediocre English. When we were walking Dima mentioned wanting to go on a run in the morning, so I said sure, I’ll go with you.

…Which leads me to this morning. We both got up, got dressed, and walked out to the yard without saying a word. Then Dima says we’re going to take Max, his German Shepherd. He puts the dog on the leash, and we walk out the gate. We start running, and all the sudden Max is sprinting, practically dragging Dima as I run behind the scene laughing. Every once in a while we would stop and catch our breath, then it was time for Dima to be drug behind the dog and me to stifle my laughter. After about 1KM we turned around and came back. At some point an old man stopped us on the road and told us we were waking everyone up because every dog in the village was barking. Dima argued with him for a bit while I smiled not knowing if they were saying hi, arguing, exchanging information, or anything really. This is one of the many times here I’ve felt more like I was in a movie or a book than actually living life.

I got home and got ready for Kiev. We met at the bus stop, took the Marshrooka to Chernihiv. From Chernihiv we took the bus to the outskirts of Kiev. We got off at some bazaar, which was huge. We went straight to the Metro, where we shuffled into and took into the city. More, and more, and more people loaded onto the metro until you didn’t have to hold onto the handles anymore since everyone around you was propping you up. We got off near the center of the city and our task was to find the Peace Corps office all on our own. We asked directions, and after a bit we found it. The office staff was really cool, and the lounge they have for Volunteers is really nice.

After that we wanted some ethnic food, but failed. We found Italian but it was expensive. We were told Chinese food was very expensive too. We ended up at a Ukrainian style buffet. It was really good though. Then we headed to independence square. I can’t express how awesome it was to walk through the capital, which is beautiful, historic, and full of both European and Russian influence. Independence square is amazing! I could have spent three days just exploring that area, eating at the restaurants and people watching in the square, but our time was short and we had to head back to Kiev. We had a long bus ride through Kiev traffic back to Ivanivka. I’m glad I get to go back to this city a few more times during training, and often during my service. It might be a bit overwhelming to live there, but as a place you have to visit a few times a year, I’m looking forward to it.

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One Response to “Week 4… so far.”

  1. Beth said

    I have only read your latest post … Ken just shared the link with me. I cannot wait to go back and read about your entire expereince thus far. Sounds like you are having a blast! Had dinner with your dad and Barb last Saturday … they told us how you were able to connect on Skype.

    Keep on blogging!

    ~ Beth

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