Well guys, I've managed to get to a (relatively) reliable computer for a moment so I'm going to do a quick first blog from Ukraine to get things started. I've got about 20 mintures until I've got to go and meet up with my group, so I'm going to dive right into it...
After arriving in Ukraine on the 26th of September my group, known as Group 40, had two days for what they call an arrival retreat in a town a bit to the northeast of Kyiv. It was a whole lot of informational meetings, paperwork and general administrative stuff to get the ball rolling. It was also nice to have two days to compose a bit and get our bearings. The group that I arrived with had ~55 people with another 40ish comming a few days later (they had visa issues a got delayed...). At the end of that arrival retreat we were broken up into our 'clusters' which is usually a group of 4-8 people that live in the same village/town during the three months of Pre Service Training (PST). These are the folks that you take language classes with, get teacher training, and do your PST community/school projects with. I've been luckey enough to end up with a cluster of very good people, four of us total, which has made PST thus far interesting and doable (though extremely busy, stressful, and chaotic!!)
For our three months of PST my cluster is living in the village of Kevshovata, a community of about 3000 people (counting all the out-skirts...) with one school, one post office, 3 stores that carry identical products, and lots of lovely rural views. I'm living with a host family which consists of my host mother Aholla, her husband Petro (who lives in his own house on the other side of the driveway, he's 72 and has some issues with his legs) and their grandson Maxeem, who just had his 13th birthday which we celebrated with a cake and champagne. Like I said, it's definately a rural community... we have about 20 chickens (the number depends on what's for dinner) and 4 or 5 roosters who are my alarm clock in the mornings.
Ukrainian culture and life revolves around food, and your are always having more and more pushed on you as a gesture of hospitality... I never leave the breakfast or dinner table feeling hungery, or capable of walking for that matter. I've been eating lots of borshch and other soups, little meat patties, lots of potatoes and beets, and drinking tea like it's my job... it kind of is.
Every weekday we have 4 (!) hours of Ukrainian language class, which is so damn complex I'll dedicate a whole blog entirely to it, but just a taste: all nouns are conjugated with different ending for gender, different endings if there is one of them or 2-5 of them, or 5+, numbers are conjugated based on gender too, nouns are also conjugated with different endings (based on gender) depending on how they are used in the sentence (direct object vs. indirect object) etc. I'll vent on all of that in a different blog :-)
I've also started teaching. I had my first 7th Grade English class in the local school last week, and I'll have two more this comming week. We receive 'technical training' on teaching techniques and lesson planning tutoring. We are also getting started on a community project, which is as yet undefined, but should prove to be very rewarding and very time consuming :-)
Aside from all of that there is always stuff to do around the house, helping out in the kitchen, work around the yard, etc. All in all there is a lot to do and not enogh time to do it in. I don't sleep to much but when I do it's deep... until I hear those damn roosters :-)
Ok, I've run out of time! Sorry for any typos, no time to proof read. I'll post some more later this week.
Love you all!