Hello again from South-Central Ukraine!
My time here for Pre-Service Training is quickly coming to an end, so I want to do a quick update before I head off to my new location… wherever that may be. As I’ve expressed earlier, my time here has been very busy and very chaotic but it’s all come together in the end. I’ve now taught just under 20 lessons in the school here and I’m feeling very comfortable in front of a class. In writing all my lesson plans there has been a big focus on teaching in a communicative style to really get the students speaking. It’s an interesting task to use the nationally issued textbooks and follow the national curriculum but at the same time conduct lessons in a positive, energetic atmosphere. I taught the 3rd, 7th, and 8th grades here and I ended with a positive relationship with all of them. They all wanted to take pictures with me on my last day teaching, and my 8th grade class handmade some very nice keepsakes for me to take with me.
Another very positive aspect of our last week at school was the fact that we sang and danced a traditional Ukrainian song in front of the whole school this past Friday. It was a day of national song and dance, and the school didn’t want us to be left out. We were told we should participate and there is no way to say no to that… The four folks in my group (plus our two Ukrainian teachers) got all dressed up in the traditional Ukrainian clothes and sang a fun song that everyone in the country seems to know… I’ll upload some pictures when I can, they’re worth the wait :-)
Our community project was another big activity we’ve been working on over the past months and it will be wrapping up here in the next 48 hours. The school here is really lacking in authentic (or any) audio resources of native English speakers. We have spent the last couple weeks recording audio tracks to go along with the textbooks that the teachers/students use. Hours and hours of audio tracks… all…read…very…slowly… It’s been a time consuming though very meaningful project and we can get a nice warm fuzzy feeling knowing that students in the 5th through 9th grades will be listening to our voices drone on for years to come :-) With a grant we applied for through the Peace Corps we were also able to facilitate the purchase of a small boom-box for the schools English department so that they can easily use the newly recorded CDs.
Language was the other main component of this Pre-Service Training time and that will be concluding today with our Language Proficiency Interview (LPI). Gotta love Peace Corps with their many wonderful TLA [Three-Letter-Acronyms]. I’m feeling very happy with the level of language I’ve achieved in these short (though oh-so-very long!) three months. Living with a host family has been a great help when it came to learning the language, mainly because the house gets pretty damn quiet if you’re not trying to talk. My host mother Holla has been wonderful. It’s often the case when we have guests over (speaking rapid fire Ukrainian or Surjek, a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian) that Holla will ‘translate’ into simplified Ukrainian that she knows I can understand. It’s been an interesting learning process and I look forward to getting more proficient over the coming two years.
And now, just as a place starts to feel like home and the community welcomes you with open arms, it’s off into the unknown again. On Monday the 13th (less than a week now!) our bus arrives to pick us up along with all our baggage (physical and mental) and bring us back to Kiev. That afternoon we’ll learn how we scored on our language tests as well as (drum-roll please) where we’ll be heading for the next 24 months. The following day we’ll meet our local counterpart, who is a teacher from the community that we’ll be working in and will be our closest co-worker for the whole time at our site. No pressure there :-) The day after that is the official Swearing-In Ceremony, which is a big event with Ambassadors there as well as national news crews filming the whole thing. And that same evening you hop on a bus/or overnight train (depending on how far you’re going) and head out to your new site. And that’s that, a new home for the next couple years. I have a gut feeling about where I’m headed generally, but I don’t want to jinx it by putting it down in writing. I’m excited about whatever may come, and ready to get started…
That’s it for now! Hope you all are well wherever this finds you. I don’t have any idea what internet access will be like at my new site, so if you don’t hear anything from me for a while after this just assume good things. I’ll be chopping wood and chasing chickens around :-)
Ps. I think I’m going to have to change to a new blog site after this because Peace Corps requires that if you have a blog it is password protected and I don’t think I can do that on this site.