December 9, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Blogs - Ukraine: Personal Web Site: Blog from the Ukraine by Peace Corps Volunteer Heather Rathbun

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Blog from the Ukraine by Peace Corps Volunteer Heather Rathbun

Blog from the Ukraine by Peace Corps Volunteer Heather Rathbun

Blog from the Ukraine by Peace Corps Volunteer Heather Rathbun

I came to Ukraine in October 2003 with 94 other potential volunteers. I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted an opportunity to travel adn learn first-hand about another culture, and I wanted to do something helpful that would be as rewarding and challenging as my previous human service jobs. Peace Corps has definately been the answer!

I spent my first 3 months in a small town near Kiev wher I studied Russian, learned about teaching English in Ukraine, and learned basic skills for surviving in Ukraine. Both Ukrainian and Russian are spoken here, so some volunteers learned Ukrainian and some learned Russian.

At the end of training, not all 95 of us were still here, but those of us who were enjoyed a fancy “Swearing In” ceremony and Christmas dinner together in Kiev and then on December 26th, 2003 I found myself on a train to southern Ukraine to begin my work.

My primary responsibility is teaching English at a Secondary School. I teach English and “Country Studies” to 6th to 10th graders - my favorite age! I have been very surprised at the enthusiasm for learning and school in general here. My kids often ask if we can meet outside of school just so they can practice their English. As a result of their enthusiasm, I have started 2 English clubs. We’ve been learning about English idioms and slang, Thanksgiving, and we studied Halloween by having a party complete with costumes and candy. I am also involved in what we call teh “Practical Course in English Language Teaching.” I meet every 2 weeks with local English teachers to help them improve their English Language skills and learn new, modern teaching methods. I work wiht a wonderful, commited group of teachers and this has becme one of my favorite parts of my job, as well oas one of my greatest successes. I am also a new member of the “Gender and Development Council” which promotes education about gender equality through classes in school, a nation-wide essay contest, and summer camps. Last summer I spent two weeks teaching Gender Studies and Tae Kwon-Do at a summer camp. Great fun!

I am very fortunate to have been welcomed so warmly into this community. I think every child in this town knows me by my first name and they ALL say “hello” when they see me on the sidewalk. It’s amazing.

It is interesting how old meets new here. I have to tell my students to turn off their cell phones during class, but horsedrawn carts make their way through town, taking vegetables to the market, and goats graze beside the road. One of my favorite parts of Ukrainian life is the bazaar. As I walk throug eyeing stray dogs with caution, swatting bees, or trying to control my umbrella in the wind and rain, I marvel at the unique position in which I find myself. I also think about how completely boring grocery shopping at Albertsons will be after this!

Day to day life in Ukraine has taught me some interesting skills, things I didn’t expect to learn in teh Peace Corps. Making soup no longer involves opening a can, dumping it into a bown, putting it in the microwave and waiting…now it involves boiling meat, peeling and slicing vegetables, and discovering that I CAN make soup from scratch! It had never occured to me that it isn’t absolutely necessary to wash clothes in a washing machine. The idea that the bathtub would work just as well never occurred to me, but that’s how I do my laundry here! The same is true for hot water. I heat my bathwater on the stove as I don’t have hot running water. I had never thought about that before. However, these type of adjustments have been realatively minor. The greater challenges have been trying to learn Russian (one of the most diffucult things I’ve ever tried to learn!) and learning to work productively in a culture that in some ways is soooooo different from my own. However, it seems to get easier and easier, and even the small victories seem to drive me forward.

Well, that is some general information about what I do here. Peace Corps has a media policy for current volunnteers so I have to get my posts approved by my regional manager before I put them here. It may take a while to get into a routine of regular postings, but I hope you will check back and follow my adventures here, and please be patient if I don’t post too frequently at first! Thank you for reading, and remember, please feel free to post questions or comments of a non political nature.

When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

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March 1: National Day of Action Date: February 28 2005 No: 471 March 1: National Day of Action
Tuesday, March 1, is the NPCA's National Day of Action. Please call your Senators and ask them to support the President's proposed $27 Million budget increase for the Peace Corps for FY2006 and ask them to oppose the elimination of Perkins loans that benefit Peace Corps volunteers from low-income backgrounds. Follow this link for step-by-step information on how to make your calls. Then take our poll and leave feedback on how the calls went.
Coates Redmon, Peace Corps Chronicler  Date: February 26 2005 No: 457 Coates Redmon, Peace Corps Chronicler
Coates Redmon, a staffer in Sargent Shriver's Peace Corps, died February 22 in Washington, DC. Her book "Come as You Are" is considered to be one of the finest (and most entertaining) recountings of the birth of the Peace Corps and how it was literally thrown together in a matter of weeks. If you want to know what it felt like to be young and idealistic in the 1960's, get an out-of-print copy. We honor her memory.

February 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 26 2005 No: 454 February 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Folk-Singer Steve Schuch releases "Trees of Life" 26 Feb
Christopher Bartlett maintains Marine Protected Area 25 Feb
Joseph Frey uses amputation experience to help others 25 Feb
James McCann concerned by maize in Ethiopia 25 Feb
Sen. Obama says PC can help improve diplomacy 24 Feb
PCVs help remove batteries in Belize 24 Feb
Jimmy Carter praises mother's PC service 24 Feb
Craig D. Wandke's lunar passion began in Honduras 23 Feb
Char Andrews discusses her experience with cancer 23 Feb
Beverly Seckinger tells stories through film 23 Feb
J. Tyler Dickovick: As Togo goes, so may go Africa 23 Feb
Andres Hernandez searches for PCV for 40 years 23 Feb
Bulgaria is now like second home to Aaron Wills 22 Feb
Bernadette Roberts to serve as diplomat in Albania 22 Feb
USA Freedom Corps downgraded at White House 22 Feb
Tom Skeldon seeks to control pit bull trade 21 Feb
Gabriela Lena Frank writes music on Dad's PCV service 21 Feb

Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.
Peace Corps Calendar: Tempest in a Teapot? Date: February 17 2005 No: 445 Peace Corps Calendar: Tempest in a Teapot?
Bulgarian writer Ognyan Georgiev has written a story which has made the front page of the newspaper "Telegraf" criticizing the photo selection for his country in the 2005 "Peace Corps Calendar" published by RPCVs of Madison, Wisconsin. RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow, who submitted the photograph for the calendar, has published her reply. Read the stories and leave your comments.
WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; Blogs - Ukraine



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