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Miss You

As I wrap things up here in Ukraine, it’s inevitable that my mind is already aware of what I’m going to miss when I’m back in the States. So this post is in an attempt to keep the memories vivid. And I apologize in advance for the War and Peace length of this post – it’s a long one.

So let’s begin!

Easily what I’ll miss most are the excellent people that I’ve met here. Thank gawd for friends and the fun we have had together!


Photo of our last meeting together at my apartment. I’m going to miss them so much!! If you’ve been following my posts, these girls have become my close friends and been essential to the good times that I’ve had here in Ukraine. Smart, fun, beautiful, open-minded and the list goes on, these girls are incredible and I’ve been so lucky to know them. All I can say is thank gawd for the internet and the ability to keep in touch after I’m back in the States.

***

For the past two years, two girls in the older grades took the time to get to know me outside of classes and we met regularly, becoming friends. We always had coffee, something tasty to eat, good conversation, and usually ended up watching something on the computer (they got me hooked on The Vampire Diaries – I was Team Elijah myself :P). These our a couple pictures we took with the self-timer when we last got together – fun! I’ve missed not having them at school as they started university this semester. I am so looking forward to seeing what these kind and amazing girls do in the world!

***

Of course, of course there’s the pupils!! There are many moments and classes that I have loved teaching. Teaching can be such a difficult and time consuming job, but oh such a rewarding one! When an activity works, when ideas are expressed and words remembered, well, it’s a great feeling for everyone.

This last week at school was my week to say goodbye to my classes and them to me. Structured it with having them write something/make something in English that I could take back with me as a souvenir. I have no doubt if I ever need a pick-me-up all I have to do is take these treasures out and remember. I’m sorry, but I had a very hard time narrowing these down so it’s long….so much love!

First up, let’s go to the Pedagogical College:

Course we brought some snacks, drank some tea, and let loose with the paper and markers! Even played some Mafia 😛


From my awesome colleague and friend Masha ❤


And my other awesome colleague and friend Yulia ❤


Love the star theme that cropped up in this meeting


From Dima, the one boy at our meetings.


A couple of the girls made me some gifts, and as a whole they made this amazing video:

Easily some of the funnest lessons were the one’s we had together. Such a cool, creative bunch of students, and they are going to be great teachers!


So, I’ve read a lot of books since coming to Ukraine, and they have found a new home with my friend Masha and the students at the school. Nothing like some extracurricular materials on zombies and such to learn English 😀

***

And moving on to my primary work site, School Number 18:


My counterpart Irina and I. The impetus behind me coming to my site, the person I turned to when I needed help, I’ll always remember her.

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Irina’s 6A Class.


He worked so hard all period on this, frickin’ awesome!!


Love the face on this ❤


Beautiful!


Such cute faces.


Tropical beach of Ukraine?

***


Irina’s 8B Class.


I find I’m doing this and reversing my n’s now too…


Cover…


…inside “Made in Ukraine”


Sponge Bob usually makes an appearance.


Like a ray of sunshine.

***


Irina’s 7B Class. The phrase ‘herding cats’ applies here – so enthusiastic and into themselves it’s sometimes difficult to get even simple things like a group photo taken.


But they’re sweeties 🙂


The envelope…


…the insides.


Lots ‘o Britain in the house.


Even Dima got into the swing of things by copying some randomness out of his book – good for him!


The cover…


…the inside.


Bingo and the letter ball were always a big hit 🙂


I love the togetherness ❤

***


Irina’s 7A Class. I got really close to this class as their homeroom teacher was my counterpart.


Sergei told me there’s 50 stars there! And inside…


By the end of our time together, this boy was perfectly saying hello to me and trying during our lessons. He loves to draw. My teacher’s heart swells thinking of how awesome my pupils are!



“Thanks for tenderness of your eyes and kind smiles” – we would always smile and talk to each other; I’m getting a little teary thinking of her own sweet smiling face and enthusiasm


I love this one stark heart out above the grass and under the sun.


Love my pupils using what they know themselves and just trying to communicate = it works perfectly for me ❤


“I’m very prudence” – gotta love dictionaries 😀

***


Irina’s 9A Class.


This class’ theme – boats!


These boys are a bit of a handful, but kind hearts and usually give it a go at our lessons which is great. And frickin’ cool as heck – some transliterated Victor Tsoi lyrics (of my favorite Кино which I’ll mention below). AWESOME!


Beautiful right?


“USA Free America” and the British flag.

***


Vitaly’s 11A Class. They surprised me with the most delicious cake *mouth waters* Nothing like a crazy amount of cake for breakfast 🙂


Beautiful shawl made by the mother of one of my pupils and gifted to me ❤


Pupils are def into origami here.


“Live in the rythm of hip hop” – heck yes! Moments like this, so good to be a teacher ❤


Ever!


Simpsons still going strong.

***


Irina’s 9B Class.


The skull – Halloween forever!


Love the eighties vibe I get from this.

***


Tatiana’s 8B Class.


Saddest cat eyes EVER.


I’ll always be a Darling ❤


When in doubt mention New Year’s and the ideas are flowing – everyone’s favorite holiday here 🙂

***


Tatiana’s 5 Class.


“You beautiful woman!” These kids are gonna give me a complex!

***


Tatiana’s 6 Class.


These two from Julia are quite amazing! I only had a few months with this class, but I’m so glad to have had the opportunity as they were so much fun!


“We you love” – It’d be a good shirt ❤


Check out the awesome portrait of me, side-braid and everything! Though I swear I don’t have a smiley shirt…


Yes! I was hoping to get a couple of Halloween cards.


I love seeing kids who struggle put their all into something – it makes it all the more special ❤


Love these bats.


Bet you don’t have any ninja turtles giving you heart balloons!


Helloweenn! This vamp and skeleton are the ultimate in radsauce!

***


As a final farewell, I laid out a spread of cookies, candies, and tea for my school’s teachers, gave a little speech in Russian thanking everyone, and presented the three English teachers I worked with and my director with certificates of appreciation. A nice way to end our time together.

***

Foodwise, it’s rather difficult to say what I’ll miss most. The first thing I made myself while here was taught to me by my host mom during training – Яблочная шарлотка or Apple Charlotte – super easy, super quick, and super tasty.

I loved eating lunch during my ‘window’ between lessons at the school cafeteria – such wonderful, kind ladies work there and the food was always so tasty. It was there that I first came across my favorite Russian ‘Korean’ Carrot Salad (Корейская Морковь). One woman even got me the correct grater to get the long slivers of carrot. Borscht, plov, akroshka, and other dishes I’ve learned and made here I look forward to continue eating back in the States as the ingredients aren’t difficult to find.

Not everything will be so easy to recreate though. Where will I get my salty delicious копченый сыр косичка or smoked cheese braid – so perfect with beer. My favorite here being Chernihivske White (Чернігівське Біле) – a “triumph of primeval taste!” And the many, many varieties of candies! I especially like those produced by АВК with Королевский шарм (Royal Charm) being my favorite, a kind of chocolate cover wafer with a creamy nut middle, mmmm. Their truffles are quite good too 😀

Music discoveries I can pretty much take with my – lucky! What I’ll miss though is that mood that happens when something comes on that I like and know – like the first time I heard someone blasting Кино on the train, awesome! I’ll be forever grateful to my language teacher during training who introduced me to him. There’s even a Kino tag here in my town – Victor Tsoi forever!

Other random musicality that I’ll remember: the alternating sound of oldschool Soviet movies or songs coming from my neighbor’s apartment, with the songs primarily being sung with gusto as he left to and fro to go outside to smoke. I couldn’t ever pick out specific ones, but they’re usually in the vein of this:


This is a song about the mining region Donetsk I live in called Спят курганы темные (Sleeping Dark Mounds) from an old 1939 film Большая жизнь (Big Life). Check out another version with the lyrics here.

A lot of the music I listened to was on the radio, where I alternated between the mostly English-language rock station and the oldies station, Радио Мелодия, while preparing my food in the kitchen. This earworm from the year of my birth seemed to be a go-to selection:


Юрий Антонов – Не забывай/Мечта (Yuri Antonov – Don’t forget/Dream). I could watch this video forever. It’s also well-played on local route marshrutkas/buses. That and lotsa pop/dance/techno music.

I’ll miss my apartment, the way the westerly light shone through the kitchen in the afternoons. Such a glorious feeling to make some tea after lessons and finally sit down and soak up a bit of calm with a lovely view to look on.

And there’s lots of other people, places, and things that I will miss that I haven’t mentioned. But this post becomes ghastly long and my time remaining is short. Time to live and contemplate later.

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A Marshrutka Eye

Had to make a trip into town the other day to get train tickets for some summer travel before they were all snatched up, and I thought to bring my camera along for the ride.

It’s rather an all-day affair, the first part taking 1 1/2-2 hrs each way to get to the eastern bus depot in the city and the second part another hour to cross the city in marshrutka to get to the train station. Most of the photos were taken on the second leg of the journey while in the city.


Реклама – advertisements – ever new ways to catch the eye.


Bar Musical – someday I’d like to check it out…


Донецк Сити – торгово-развлекательном центре. Donetsk City, shopping and entertainment center. Like our malls; I’ve been here a few times to wander and look at stuff I can’t afford.


Exterior of the train station. The best part of Euro 2012 coming here for me has been the addition of the electronic boards around the station with train track info. So much easier than trying to listen to the garbled PA system.

There’s some video of the station as well as a taste of what it’s like to ride overnight trains here in this BBC video.


Golden spires of the church next to the station.


Рынок – market – near the station.


A tram.


Meat stand.


Fresh bread.

So, just a taste of what I see sometimes.

For the intrepid who have made it to the end of this post, I have also crafted a springtime mix of what I’ve been listening to these days. You can check it out by clicking here.

Here’s the tracklist:

Motorama – To The South
Galway – Mria
Air Waves – Knockout
КИНО – Бездельник-2
The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
Girls – Lust For Life
The Glands – Call Me Doctor
Beach Fossils – Sometimes
The Velvet Underground – I’m Set Free
Houses – Endless Spring
Regina – Haluan Sinut
Phoenix – Second to None
KDIMB – Springtime in Toronto
Andrew Bird – Orpheo Looks Back
The Bad Shepherds – Ever Fallen In Love (Buzzcocks cover)
The Wedding Present – Cattle and Cane (Go-Betweens cover)
Beck – Guess I’m Doing Fine
Pompeya – Slow
Pinback – Good to Sea
Lou Reed – Crazy Feeling
Jeremy Jay – The Days of Casting Clouds Away
Bats – Smoking Her Wings
The Threads of Grass – Holiday
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Let’s Pretend It’s Summer

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To The New Year

It’s my second New Year here in Ukraine. And it’s shaping up to be full of the best from last year and promise of change and good things to come!

First, I managed to make a mix which you can listen to here. It’s been awhile on the music front, and really enjoyable for me to dive into songs I’ve enjoyed from the past year again, with a beat and bit of melancholy.


Celebrated the New Year with good friends here. Wouldn’t you know it, the power went off as it seems to do rather frequently lately and we started our food prep and tree decorations by candle light.


Makes for some giant hoorays and sincere appreciation when the lights come back on! Our lovely tree and some of the presents we exchanged.


The crew, kicking back and getting ready to eat some of the tasty feast.


Readying to toast the upcoming year.


And wouldn’t be a celebration without sparklers! After a long and lovely evening, we still had lots of food to divvy up and keep us going in the days after. I’ve discovered a rather new and all-consuming love for green olives that I didn’t know about before, mmmmmm.


We’ve finally got another round of snow to cover the ground now that we’re in 2012. Brings on that stark beauty that I’ve come to love here.


“Just do it?” A fine question to ponder at the arbitrary boundary of time we’ve made. For me, I’m reminded of what is to come in this year, and the thought to be as present and aware of the mundane beauty and relationships of my everyday life as I can be. It will be enough. My thoughts go out to all my amazing family and friends in thanks and appreciation ❤

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Thanks

It’s that time of year. It’s one of my favorite holidays, back in the States. A time of family and cooking amazing feasts. Of thinking about the things we are thankful for in our lives.

This year is a bit different from last year. Last year I had just come to Ukraine, was in training, and living with other volunteers in the same town so it made it easy to get together for celebrating this holiday. This year, I’m the only volunteer in my town and teaching the next day so will be staying here in my town. I’ve got a plan to make pumpkin cupcakes, perhaps with cream cheese frosting. And salivation commences…

At lessons today, we talked about what we are thankful for. And I got some lovely responses, some that went beyond simply saying family and friends. One boy said he was thankful for his mother, for the warmth of her hand and love that she gives. Another boy said he was thankful for every minute of the day, every beat of his heart. And another boy was thankful for the Earth that tolerates us and the trees that give us air. One girl wrote hers in the style of a poem that rhymed – quite a feat in another language! I look forward to what the rest of the week will bring.

After having a few difficult weeks, I was and am so thankful for these calm, thoughtful classes, and I made sure to tell them so. They remind me why I am here.

I am also thankful for finding new Russian music. Самое Большое Просто Число (Samoe Bol’shoe Prostoe Chislo – The Biggest Prime Number). You can download all of their albums here (all are free but the newest); I’ve only gotten around to listening to the newest one so far and am loving it. With the deadpan vocal delivery and repetition on top of catchy electronic rock/hip hop music I can actually make out quite a few words and phrases and have found myself caught up and remembering parts of the songs as I go about my day.

Some videos from older albums:


In other news: I’m in love with the afternoon light in my bedroom.

I wish you a wonderful holiday, and I am thankful for you.

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Apples and Oranges

First things first: I want to share with you these two (there are more, but I haven’t given a listen yet) compilation albums of Russian musicians – Apples and Oranges. Love love love! And I think you will too. Far From Moscow has been my go-to place for checking out new-to-me music in this neck of the woods.

Other than that, some odds and ends since my last post:


Tire art – I’ve been seeing these lovelies all over town!


Lots of poplars round here.


My friend Masha during a lovely autumn walk in the park.


Marigolds, last flowers of the season.


Last time I came out here I missed out on this crocodile as it was covered in snow.


Like a path in a fairy tale, beautiful but best to watch your step. This led out to…


…this warrior on a horse. Really cool in this vast, empty field.


I always like to add to my misspelled English graffiti collection.


Was looking out my window one morning and scoped this random goat walking down the road. Made me smile.


The first of two sets of Clue that I made for this week’s lessons. It’s always Miss Scarlet I tell you!

Halloween was good – lessons that week were super fun with lotsa gory talk, special activities, and, of course, candy! Got together with some friends to celebrate and had a nice evening hanging out. Busy days, busy nights. I gotta get back into the habit of finding time to study my Russian. Been loving me some trashy Sookie Stackhouse novels before I conk out in the evenings. It’s getting mighty dark real early now; I had forgotten about that. And on that note, I’ll say спокойной ночи (good night!)

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Autumn Leaves

I love the changing of the guard, all of the different smells, different afternoon light, different routines. August and September came and went, full and crazy and trying and wonderful. In a nutshell, the summer ended and school began.

Some main points in my brain. My refrigerator died while it was still scorching outside; though it took a bit I got a kickass replacement. Loved getting back to school and those wonderful pupils that make my days brighter. Went on some excursions, notably one to Saur-Mohyla to celebrate the liberation of the Donbass region as occurred during WWII and one to Donetsk that will forever be known as Shoe Street Day. Computer finally died resulting in many bus trips and chaos while I worked out a replacement. My operating system is even now still in Russian, which would be great if there wasn’t so many problems and the dang thing won’t let me cut and past the long errors/warnings into my translator. So, I get to try and look up each and every word. Fun 😉

But, as usual, nothing beats looking at pictures AND text, so let’s get on with the show!

Firstly, you should go here to Motorama’s site and download any (read ALL) of their albums. Then, proceed while listening. You’ll like it, I promise.


After a summer thunderstorm – view from my balcony. To remember the green.


Last days of summer at our town’s main park, partaking in the attractions. And Yulia is definitely on my team when the zombie apocalypse happens.


Some fine afternoon light, the awesome replacement fridge, and the John Peel bio I had picked up in London.


I re-created my favorite sweet treat from my London trip – Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars. Oh man, so dang good! I couldn’t find caramel or corn syrup here so used some reduced zgushchyenka (згущенка) instead. Didn’t set very well and was quite messy, but still quite tasty.


First Bell on September 1st. The official first day of school filled with ceremony, songs, poems, traditions, and a short lesson before letting the kids go home.


Pupils dress mostly in black and white, many girls, young and old, with these amazingly huge bows in their hair.


Most of the activities were around the school arrivers (1st form) and school leavers (11th form).


(Click image above to go to the video). And now for an exciting treat! The one good thing about the new computer is I can now download the videos I take on my camera. So I’ve got some snippets to share! Here is some pupils dancing to an old Soviet tune during the ceremony.


(Click image above to go to the video). And here’s the 1st and 11th forms reciting some bits during First Bell.


My counterpart’s home class, now in the 6th form. Getting them  to take a picture without hand gestures is nigh onto impossible 🙂


I went on an excursion with the 8th form classes to Saur-Mohyla, which is a main point for celebrating the Donbass region’s liberation from the Nazi’s on September 8th, 1943.


Me and Olga taking a requisite photo on a gun-thing. Yup, my knowledge of war astounds even me.


(Click image above to go to the video). At the foot of the memorial for the liberation of the Donbass region in Saur Mohyla where people gathered before the procession to listen to music, watch dance performances and hear speeches. And Olga waving 🙂


(Click image above to go to the video). People dressed in period clothing singing old Soviet songs. Warmed my heart to see the enthusiasm and dancing of the older babushka with flowers who joins in on the right.


Communist Party of Ukraine was there too.


It took about an hour in our procession formation of groups and flags to get from the bottom of the memorial to the top of the hill where people would stop to take photos and lay down flowers and wreaths. I ended up seeing a friend in the crowd ahead of me and calling her, pretty funny.


The Ukrainian flag – blue skies and golden fields.


There were lots of people in period costume around the memorial, as well as veterans and current soldiers in full dress uniform. The view of the region from the top was simply astounding. It was a gorgeous day.


First meeting back at the pedagogical college – we have such a great time together!


English is all around, even on classroom chairs.


Ksusha from the 11th form and I during the countries fair at our school. So much fun, and food!


The boys stop their promotion for a quick pic.


9th and 10th form boys making the rounds – I seem to remember being serenaded with Nirvana’s About A Girl. Super cool! You gotta know our lessons about music have been awesome.


(Click image above to go to the video). Song dramatization performed by some of the 11th formers at the countries fair. I really want to find out what old movie this is from – I love the music!


Concert for teachers at our Palace of Culture on Teacher’s Day. And now get ready for a slew of video!


(Click image above to go to the video). Just a short bit of the intro to the concert for education workers – to remember the drama and pomp in our small town of wearing that dress!


(Click image above to go to the video). Part of the talent at the concert – he’s a whistler!


(Click image above to go to the video). Girls from pedagogical college performing at concert for Education Workers – one of them goes to our English club meetings!


(Click image above to go to the video). Misha from our 10th form – and if I remember right, he’s been on a television show for his singing. This song has such a strange-to-me switching of beat.


(Click image above to go to the video). So cute, dancing flowers, singing, and then a bee, just when I couldn’t imagine going awwwww anymore!


Toma’s impromptu note for me on Teacher’s Day. This and some of the kind words from caring students, not to mention the pile of chocolates and flowers, really blew me away. A ray of sunshine during what was otherwise a difficult teaching time.


(Click image above to go to the video). These cuties are at my school’s Teacher’s Day concert. I love seeing my cute 3rd formers perform; wish I had the whole song, but ran outta memory :(.

So after difficulties and feeling rather down, my friends proposed that we take advantage of some of the last good weather and go on an excursion to Donetsk, check out some places for boots, take pictures, eat good food, and generally cheer up. Right as usual, and we had such a great time. I’m a lucky gal for sure!


Here stand Masha and I, two of the happiest girls with our new boots on what I can’t describe as anything other than Shoe Street. Store after store of shoes and only shoes. It was great!


Ira and I at a beautiful park near a planetarium on this perfect autumn day. To the right is even a skate park.


It felt so good to walk around in different parts of the city I’d never seen, exploring, seeing the sites, taking pictures, and just being around friends. Especially when we went to get some honest-to-goodness awesome delicious sushi for lunch. Oh, I’m dreaming of the next time!


Me and my crazy tiara from the fountain at Donbass Arena. Euro Cup will be happening here, and wow, I am just waiting to see what the city will be like when everyone arrives for it in the summer.


The new boots!


We have a dang good time together 🙂


Icecream is always a good idea.


A couple enjoying a beautiful autumn day at the park near Donbass Arena. In the background is the spoils mound from a mine in the city.

****

I’ve been in Ukraine for over one year now, and I’m surprised how my body is remembering those sensations from when I first arrived. Walking home from my lessons in the afternoon flashes me to moments in training walking back to my host family’s apartment – the dank, earthy smell of wet leaves, the quick moment of feeling slightly off balance as your foot finds a place in the mud. Breaking out the peacoat, and being in awe of the slanty golden rays of sunshine when they decide to peak through the clouds, utterly spectacular and breath taking. The wind catching up my hair as I pull my scarf a bit closer around my neck.

The contrast to those feelings that are different, the comfortable friendships, the coziness of afternoon tea at the apartment, a better ability to plan for work, those things are surprising too. I don’t feel like I’m on the down slope, but I am as ever frankly amazed at how time passes and how I have adapted to it. Here’s to our rising in future occasions.

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Shiny New Mixes


Well, I finally found where all the old vinyl is hiding…on the walls of college dorms!

Made some new mixes, new as in the past couple of months! The artwork isn’t what was originally made to go with each, but I forgot to grab a picture of the them. Oh well.

I uploaded the tracks and am trying out this new mixtape site 8tracks that I’m liking pretty well. The only thing is the second listen to a mix randomizes the tracks because of how their licensing is set up (which sucks cuz of the flow destruction but maybe that means the site won’t shut down after 6 months like all the rest).

So, first is the mix I made for my friend Avital for her birthday. Click here to give it a listen. Here’s the tracklist:

The Voluntary Butler Scheme – Trading Things In
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – When We Swam
Generationals – Faces In the Dark
4 Короля – Так Не Должно Быть
Feist – Leisure Suite
David Bowie – Sound and Vision
The Morning Benders – Cold War
The Mountain Goats – Dance Music
Аквариум – Рыба
Jhameel – The Human Condition
Tune-Yards – Bizness
The Very Best – The Warm Heart of Africa
Aloe Blacc – Green Lights
Tap Tap – 100,000 Thoughts
КИНО – Весна
North Highlands – Sugar Lips
The Thermals – Now We Can See
K.Flay – 2 Weak
Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo
John Cale – Big White Cloud
Unbunny – Landslide
Birds & Batteries – Strange Kind of Mirror
Mirah – Person Person

The second mix is for my friend Erin (you can peek if you want-who knows when that dang package will get to you!). Click here to listen to it. Here is the playlist:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Vocal Chords
Os Mutantes – A Minha Menina
Beck – Gamma Ray
Tame Impala – Solitude Is Bliss
The Liminanas – I’m Dead
Dávila 666 – Basura
Wavves – Take On The World
Best Coast – When I’m With You
Generationals – Ten-Twenty-Ten
LCD Soundsystem – Tribulations
Joy Division – Disorder
ночные грузчики – розовые мандавошки
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
Deerhunter – Revival
Caetano Veloso – Nostalgia
Birds & Batteries – Strange Kind of Mirror
The Bens – Just Pretend
Woods – Blood Dries Darker
Nobunny – Blow Dumb
Lou Reed – Wagon Wheel

Enjoy!

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