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


Edging Toward Summer

Graduations weren’t quite over! Here’s a photo of one of the many amazing performances by students of the pedagogical school I saw while attending their graduation a few days ago. So much talent – I had a great time! But don’t take my word for it, check this out:

[Click on the image to go to video] Here’s most of the winning dancing/singing routine they had done for a competition they participated in earlier this year. SO GOOD!! Lots of Donbass region and as well as football team pride 😀 And just try not to have it stuck in your head!

I was listening best I could while speeches were being made and then my friend whispers to me, “She’s talking about you!” Surprise – the director included me briefly and presented me with these gorgeous long-stemmed roses during the ceremony. Way to make a gal feel special ❤

Today’s brief show of blue between the rains. And everything is so shockingly verdant and lush and humid. Brought the fan out today and thinking of making some iced tea. Definitely starting to feel like summer.

Last Bell

It’s that time of year. The pupils have been antsy, the teachers tired. Testing, testing, and more testing. Until, finally, it’s Последний Звонок, or Last Bell. The ceremony celebrating graduation and the end of the school year!

This year was different from last year because this year we had an 11th form that was actually leaving school. So there were more dances, more speeches, and more tears. This year I managed to get some photos:

The 11th Form walking the school yard with balloons for the Last Bell ceremony. A glorious sight when they were all let loose!

Pupils wear white and black like the traditional Soviet school uniforms, down to the white pinafore and enormous hair bows on the girls.

An early escape.

[Click the above image to view video] One of my favorite parts of the event was the dancing – I’m a sucker for a bit of old-school social dancing. Also, notice the magical-looking fluff in the air that gives a dreamy quality to everything. That’s all pollen and dandelion seed and boy-howdy the allergies I had this year were the worst I’ve ever had because of them. Pretty though 😉

The symbolic ringing of the last bell!

At one point in the ceremony, the 11th form’s teachers were called up and we were given lovely flowers and they released a bunch of doves into the sky. Really emotional, and I can tell you there were tears in more eyes than just mine. And to just put icing on the cake, this butterfly landed on my bouquet – amazing!

At the weekend, the school leavers got together to celebrate at our school and then later on at a local cafe. A bit like our prom in the states, but with tons more food, drink, and dancing. I’ve been so privileged to work and get to know these pupils, and I know they are going to go on to do great things in their lives. Hooray and congrats to them!

And now the warm weather witnessed in the previous post has disappeared for a bit and given way to spring storms with thunder and lightning that turns your insides out. I haven’t seen such since my days back east, and I like it. Put all that pollen in its place 😛 The downside is I think the rather frequent power and water outages of summer are commencing which makes for interesting times.

I’ve finished a couple of gift knitting projects in the past few months that I haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of yet, so without further ado, here they are:

Tonight there is a couple out clearing a pathway in the twilight. Kids are still out kicking goals in the nearby soccer field with young mothers looking on and meeting their own goals, laughing and talking while real little ones topple mostly harmlessly onto fresh green grasses.

Time to get ready for my second summer in Ukraine! Be well everyone ❤

Friendship Break

The end of last month a couple friends and I took a break and headed into the big city. Our timing was incredible in all things and we had an amazing time. Some photos we managed to snap during the day…

Everything and one was light and blooming. Lilacs were everywhere!

On a gorgeous spring day like this the sky blue of the Ukrainian flag is pure poetry.

One of the many old trolleys still taking people where they need to go. I got a lucky ticket number too (each half of the sequence adds up to an equal number). The prospect of adventure!

After successfully conquering shoe street (summer sandals make for happy feet!), we set off on a mission for the tasty sushi we’ve been dreaming of since forever ago. On the way…

Masha took all of the great photos that have me in them that you see in this post. Thanks so much!

This is how spring quickly turns our thoughts to summer – heat inducing the worship of water and a cool breeze!

Me and a bounty of dandelions – before they seed into demon allergy propagators that shower the world in their beautiful but snot-inducing fluff.

Happy sushi faces!

Adorable street dog using his sad face, trying to enlist in the eating our sushi.

The Forged Figures Park (at World Prospect and University). There were lots of soccer related sculptures for the upcoming Euro 2012 games, but since that’s not really were my interests lie…none for you 🙂

My favorite works were the many benches throughout – beautifully wrought, imaginative, and actually great for sitting on. A few more…

Hundreds of lovers’ locks.

Love is all around.

I’m full of more goodness, right?

Some great creepy sculptures were about too.

Prohibitions and declarations.

Central covered market closing up for the day with the graying of the sky.

And with that we departed too. Hope you all are well, my love to you ❤

Spring Melody

Spring! Finally here with its gorgeous afternoon light and replete with all of its pollen dripping from the trees. Trees are putting forth their green, the grasses are filling in the browns, and blooms are coming up everywhere in nature and our moods.

Guess it all started with the presentation of Japanese Spring by a regional politician who sponsored a Japanese dance school to come to different towns in his district. It was fun to get a little dressed up and be stimulated by something different for the evening.

Remnant of times past in our palace of culture.

Dance of Leaves, one of the few non-ballet numbers. Loved looking at all of the beautiful wardrobe changes throughout the show.

Dance of the Drums was definitely my favorite, an incredibly energetic piece of modern and what I’m guessing to be some traditional elements.

My friend Masha got us these invite-only tickets, and here she is talking about the show to our local television station.

“Об’єднаймося ж брати мої!” United are my brothers! Student work: a portrait of national Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. Note the modern end date, that his ideas are still alive.

We’ve been having lots of the typical rainy and muddy spring but yesterday was a glorious day and my friends and I went for our first good walk of the season in the nearby park.

Sculptures are made to be stood on.

How many arms?

No, no! Don’t get any closer!

AAAAAARRR!!! I haven’t noticed these creepy guys on previous visits.

Russian zombie!

Nothing like having the ol’ hand on skull in the children’s sculpture park.

Little nearby pond filled with a cacophony of singing bullfrogs.

A new edition to the tire swan art – a toucan!

A perfect afternoon out enjoying the weather and friends.


Time for a school update. Out of the lessons we did in March I think the most fun were those on talking about animals and how to describe them that culminated in the creation of hybrids! The younger forms got really artistic and spent some time at home on their pictures; here are a few:

Check out that tail!

The most famous hybrid they knew – CatDog! ‘Course mine is the liger

Three inspired hyrbids.

The jaoonr – incredibly terrifying beast!

She actually did the sentences too! Love!

Such artists and everyone was so active and engaged that it really made for some fun classes. Next up are a few in-class creations from pupils a couple of years older. More fangs and sea creatures in the mix:

And to close out the project pictures (sorry, I just love looking at what they do!), I’d like to show a project story one of my pupils did for another teacher’s lesson, but included a lil’ slang we learned from one of mine. So frickin’ cool! And nothing like a hip hop battle ❤

Final days of winter – the last picture – so glad to see them go! Now the landscape looks more like something I’m used to for the colder months: wet, muddy, and gray. While the dazzling sparkling beauty of snow is gone and I’ll miss that wow factor, I must say that seeing the beginnings of green trying to muddle its way from the ground is a welcome sight. Putting on my peacoat and a scarf to go out feels so comfortable. Be well all ❤

On The Bus

After reading this writing exercise from my pupils, I can’t get this song outta my head:

While I was standing on the bus I realized my dream – I was so happy! I kissed the boy who [was] sitting behind me. He had red hair. He was handsome. I think he was surprised. He said, “Oh, it’s so funny and cool!” He gave me his number. I thought, “Oh, I’m a crazy girl. It’s a stupid situation and I don’t know what to do now!” Maybe I was shy. I promised to call him. Finally, I met my love.

Also, I’ve been on the bus a lot recently. And the train. And on foot. Had a trip into the capitol to take care of some middle-of-service business. Highlights include meeting some other nice volunteers, interesting folks at the hostel, exploration of the Lavra, and eating some kick-ass food. Oh, and fast internet, how I loved thee!

Last month had a couple of main points. Lesson-wise the big one was Valentine’s Day, which is a holiday that is only recently celebrated in Ukraine.

One of the sixth form classes with their valentines. We have a good time 🙂

Just started working with this fifth form class and am really enjoying their energy and excitement! One boy had been having a bad day (don’t we all), told me didn’t want to work, but I left him with a heart anyway and he started getting into it and by the end of class had made a valentine he was proud to show me and was all smiles with his friends. It made my day ❤

The other huge and amazing happening in February was receiving our 20lbs. of free books from Darien Book Aid. This incredible organization ships books to Peace Corps volunteers all over the world, and I ask if you have the opportunity to consider supporting their work.

The excitement created by the box’s arrival was wonderful! Children from all classes gathered around during the day while I was processing the books to look at these new-to-them books. The Darien volunteer who put together our request did an amazing job meeting our needs, the most valuable being some more dictionaries for our class room and then included an assortment of adventure, fantasy, mystery, and other reads for motivated pupils extracurricular interests as well as a class set of books that will be for group reading in the older forms. A number of the books were the after-the-movie release versions so pupils would see familiar actors and be interested in connecting with the book – brilliant idea!

We spent some time in the 11th form looking at them, reading the synopses on the back, delving into the first paragraphs by reading them to each other, talking about cover art, and just generally making them approachable. Five books have already been checked out and the dictionaries get used like crazy so I’m calling this a success!

Spring is on the way here as exhibited by the bodily-harm inducing combination of gigantic melted mud lakes and slick sheets of ice. Can’t wait to start seeing green on the trees in a couple months! Hope everyone is well ❤