Saturday, May 26, 2007

Heat Wave

Hi everyone! Hope all is going well at home. Those of you who were about to graduate now have, I think, so congratulations!

It has gotten unbelievably hot over here . . . and if you didn’t expect to hear that, then think how I feel experiencing it. It is real, and unexpected – at least it was by me. I heard a week ago that we were having record temperatures (for this time of year, I guess), and that’s what it feels like. Being from Virginia, I’ve never really been able to understand places that are both very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter – I figured you sort of have to choose one (for anyone who’s curious – Virginia chose summer) – but, of course, there are such places, and apparently Ukraine is one of them. The heat wave started last weekend, and despite getting a screen for my porch door (which will hopefully keep the kitchen from getting too smoky when I cook, and angering my smoke detector), it was pretty hot in my apartment. So hot that I feel like I lost a day or two this week, just staring at the wall, unable to think or move. However, yesterday I bought a fan in the city, and that seems to have made a difference. I’m feeling more alert, and I think I’ll be ok . . .

Last Friday, I made an Italian dinner for my coordinator, and my host mom and brother. I wanted to show off my decorated apartment, and force them to try some non-Ukrainian food. I made spaghetti and garlic bread, cole slaw (lots of cabbage here), and brownies, so, overall, something you might eat in America. My former host brother was at first reluctant to try each dish, but ended up liking everything but the cole slaw. They asked for the recipes, so I think it was a success, and they liked my decorations (all the pretty pictures of pretty Americans).

My students are finishing up the year, so they’re basically taking tests every day – different days for reading, writing, listening and speaking. There’s still a bunch of cheating, but I’m learning to ignore it, which may be a good or bad sign. When I supervise them by myself, I still crack down on it. For my last English club of the year, I showed my kids “Finding Nemo,” which they seemed to like. At the end of the week, I was invited to the ceremony they had for the 4th graders at the “small school” to mark their moving up to 5th grade. It was very cute, they had songs and poems prepared – I didn’t understand most of it, but it was all very nice, and they gave me a notebook, because I’ll be their teacher next year . . .

Everything here is very green now, and walking to school every day, on uneven, rocky roads, I feel like I’m going on a nature hike. There’s plenty of nature, obviously, as well as all of the various farm animals wandering around, and dogs and cats . . . and then I start to feel a little crazy – and when I wonder why, I look down and realize that I’m wearing a button-down shirt, a skirt and dress shoes on this nature hike. Such is the life of the business-casual Peace Corps Volunteer . . .

So, the last day of school is on Thursday, called the “Last Bell,” and apparently there will be lots of celebration. I’ll get back to Bratslav just in time – after going to Kyiv to pick up my Mom, Dad and sister, who are getting here on Tuesday to visit for two and a half weeks! They’ll get to see the celebration, and then we’ll go traveling for the rest of their visit – so I’ll tell you about all of that afterwards. Thankfully, they are also bringing the summer clothes I left behind – which I am really looking forward to, in this heat. As for the rest of my summer plans – I’m sort of playing things by ear, but I’ll probably help out with some summer camps, and do another SPA round in June.

I got some great mail, so thank you very much to Tim, Marc, Melissa and Armand! I’ll try to have an interesting summer so that I can write similarly entertaining letters back to you.

It may be a while before I write again, because of traveling, but in the meantime – take care and keep in touch!

Love, Virginia

Below: the elevator buttons in Grant's building . . .


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