Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Once I lived in Ukraine...

June 7, 2011
5 months
141 days
20 weeks
7,000 miles away from home 
9,300 kilometers
25 scared girls
1 day of training
1 "mild" winter
6 different languages
5 different currencies
72 hours in train rides
5 metro passes
3 big dogs
1 parrot
1 cat
200+ fish
1 host brother
2 babushkas
7 friendly parcels of mail
27 awesome Americans
30+ hours of skype time with family and friends
79 episodes of Gilmore Girls
4 awesome jam sessions on Rock Band
50 hours on a tour bus (approximate)
447 games of Unblock Me
50 metro stops
1 desire to work for the American Embassy one day
1 Black Sea
5 Kyiv Temple trips
1 Cooking class
1 Sleepover with all the girls
6 different months
12 hours of Russian class
3 Tanias
1 culture shock 
1 bathroom shared by
6 people in my house
3 coordinators at my school
2 many hours on facebook and gmail
1 piano to play
1,000,000,000,000+ flying cotton things
1,000,000+ pigeons
40+ visits to McDonalds
39 songs on my "coming home" playlist
42 blog posts
1500+ page views
1 author, ME
32 hours of total travel time home
3 airports
8 hour layover in Munich
3 different sized airplanes
16 hours of flight time
12 stamps in my passport
1 night in LA for missing our flight
9 hour time difference
1 bag of no bake cookies brought by
2 awesome parents and 
1 sister greeting me at the airport
1 not hungry stomach, but
1 exhausted girl, happy to be back
Thank you all for your support and love =) I have enjoyed sharing all my adventures with you! 

The End

Farewell Munchkins

Well the semester was finally coming to a close and we had to put together a Spectakle for the parents to watch their kids perform.  We decided to center ours on an African Safari theme.  The week before the performance we made little crafts that we could hang up on the day of the performance like elephants, zebras, giraffes, and monkeys.  It was so hard to tell the kids that we had to hold onto their craft but they would get it back the next week.  Kids amaze me by how well they remember things! Every day they would come in and
say teacher do we get our zebra today? I would explain to them, no not yet, and they would say oh ok, next week then. It was the cutest thing.  Along with making crafts to hang up on the walls we had the kids work on songs they would sing to their parents.  We chose 5 little monkeys, the Macarena, Tarzan, Hokey Pokey and the Waka Waka.  The one that took the most effort, time, and planning was the Waka Waka.  We spent about an hour each day with our kids teaching them the dance moves
and the words to the music. I thought it was hard keeping kids attention when we were teaching them English, but I was so wrong! It is so much harder teaching them to dance and sing in English! Their motivation barely lasted more than 15 minutes. So after a few days of struggling with them
we decided to buy squirt bottles and put kool aid inside it. If the kids were singing and dancing we would give them a squirt of juice. They loved it and it kept their attention so much more! It’s amazing what kids will do for a little sugar =) We had 3 Spectakles, one on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Each of them went so well and the parents really enjoyed the performance.  Our kids totally rocked it =) Then came the hard part, it was time to say goodbye.  How do you say goodbye to kids who you have seen everyday for the past 5 
months? Kids who you have come so close to that you feel like they are forever a part of your life?  Kids whose faces you will never forget? Kids who you will probably never see again, who 
won’t ever remember you? It was hard to say goodbye and give our last hugs.  I will miss them so much! Maybe by some miracle I will run into some of them later in life =)
Here are some more pictures of our goodbyes...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane

May 26, 2011
There is a song called I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane by Chantal Kreviazuk and a few of the lines really describe how I've been feeling lately.  No matter how many times I listen to this song it pulls at my heart every time:
All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go
Already I'm so lonesome I could die
'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Every place I go, I think of you
Every song I sing, I sing for you
Now the time has come to leave you
Dream about the days to come

Obviously this isn't the whole song but these few lines really pertain to my experience here in Ukraine.  Of course I am excited to go home and be with my family and friends again.  But I am so sad to leave this place. Change is a strange thing to cope with.  I was finally starting to feel comfortable with my host family and my schedule and now I have to pack my bags and head home. I have been here for almost 5 months.  It has been my home.  Now I'm packing my bags and I don't know what to feel.  A part of me wants to be excited, but another side of me is screaming at me saying why on earth are you leaving this place?  Going home I will have to find a job, figure out college plans and get back into the swing of things.  I have been so care free for these past few months.  Coming to Ukraine has been an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.  I will never forget all the life lessons I have learned here, the friends I have made, or the places I have traveled to.  Ukraine has taught me that you do not need much to be happy.  The people here do not have very much but they make the most of what they do have.  They are so giving and so humble.  Being away from home has really taught me to appreciate the simple things in life, things I hope I never take for granted again.  Most of all it has made me realize how much I love the examples my parents have set for me.  They truly are shining beacons in my life, without them I would not be the person I am today.  They set the way and I will be forever grateful for that.  I hope one day I can be as good as parent to my kids as they are to me.  I also have learned that now is the time, you don't know what tomorrow will bring so you might as well make the most of today.  I am so lucky with my family, they are so good to me! Thank you to all of my siblings, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, and extended family for all of your support.  Your letters and emails have made all the difference. Time is quickly coming to a close, people are starting to say goodbye and whether I'm ready or not my plane heads home to America on June 1st.  
To sum up my feelings Kaitlin said it perfect:
I am leaving:
Ukraine in less than a week
All the adorable kids who won't remember me a year from now, yet I'll remember them for the rest of my life.
My dear sweet babushka
Teaching companions 
Native friends and coordinators
The most fantastic host family in all of Ukraine
What? Am I really leaving this place that I have lived for 139 days and learned to call home?
I am kind of freaking out.
Just a teeny tiny bit. 
I am excited/nervous/sad/scared/anxious/lost/overwhelmed (yes you can feel that all at once)  
Only a few more days here and I hope I can make the most of every moment.  

How do I adjust to real life again?  It has been 139 days since I left my home in Boise and headed to Ukraine.  I had no idea what to expect and things have been more amazing than I could ever hope for. Soon I will have to say goodbye to this beautiful place. I won't get up each day to my babushkas voice telling me its time for breakfast, I won't have to travel 40 minutes to my school, I won't take buses and metros to get everywhere, I won't be with the wonderful girls I have come so close to, I won't be able to teach the kids I have fallen in love with, I won't be with my host family anymore and I don't know when or if I will ever be back.  Frodo said it best "How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back.  There are some things that time cannot mend, some hurts that go to deep that have taken hold." My Ukrainian adventure is fast coming to close.  I have cried, laughed, learned, taught, danced, traveled, and experienced so much! Thank you ILP for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow so much.  I will remember this experience for the rest of my life and cherish it always.

BBQ-ING Ukrainian Style

May 21st 2011
Saturday was such a great day! It started off with all of our group and Kayla's group meeting up and heading to a BBQ/ talent show our coordinators put together for us. We were out in the woods right next to a little lake and it was absolutely beautiful.  The food included hot dogs, chips, and fruit, what could be better? While we were eating I kept feeling like we were camping and that I needed to be setting up a tent! I guess that means I miss camping or something =) After eating we had our own little talent show:

Ameri wrote some lyrics to 'Hey There Delilah' about our time in Ukraine for Igor and Tanya.  We had never practiced it before... so it was ... interesting.  Props to Ameri for writing a way cute song though!

Tanya and Igor did a little skit to "there's a hole in the bucket." It was the cutest thing ever! 
Kayla's group did handstands and a little dance! They are so talented! 

Center school did a little puppet show! It was a really cute story about a little 'roll.' Very creative guys!

Rockie jammed out to the boombox! 

Tanya and Igor are the best Native Coordinators ever!  I love them to death and I'm going to miss them so much! 

They gave all of us personalized certificates that congratulate us on completing the semester and give us rights to come back to Kiev whenever we want.  That was super sweet! They also gave each of us flower head dresses.  Each one is different and unique because they had a group of children with autism make them for us.  Can you say COOLEST gift ever! I love it so much! 
After this BBQ was over we all headed over to the Robert's house for another BBQ! It was just as amazing as the first! These people are so nice to feed us all the time! Along with feeding us we played some Rock Band which was a BLAST! I have missed Nintendo a lot since I have been here! It was so fun to just hang out with everyone and play around.  I cannot believe how fast time is flying by! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Folk Dance Concert

 May 24, 2011
About a month ago we all got tickets to go see a folk dance concert on May 20th.  We weren't really sure what to expect but our coordinators told us it would be really neat.  Well the concert hall was HUGE and so many people were there!  

We got in and found our seats and then the show began. There was dancing and singing and an orchestra playing.  It was absolutely beautiful! The people were so talented. Here are some pictures from the show =)

I Love to See the Temple

May 24 2011-  Since we are heading home soon we decided that we wanted to go to the temple one last time before we came back to America.  We have been so fortunate to have a temple so close to where we live.  We all headed to the temple for the 5 o'clock session.
We had the privilege to hear from the temple president again.  He is a really cool guy!   He talked about how to get the temple inside of us.
1. Pray with temple words 2. Read the scriptures with temple eyes                                         3. Thank your ancestors.  I didn't realize that this is the first temple to be 
built in the USSR region! How cool is that =)  The session went amazing of course then afterwards we decided to take some pictures around the temple.  It was a beautiful day outside.  I'm so glad we decided to go one last time. I am definitely going to miss the Kyiv temple a lot and all the friends we made there!  My life is good. I've been blessed with so much. I owe it to my ancestors to do their temple work.