2006.08.06: August 6, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Married Couples: Older Volunteers: Idaho State Journal: Peace Corps Volunteers Diane and Dave Phelps write about life in Ukraine

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: 2006.08.06: August 6, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Married Couples: Older Volunteers: Idaho State Journal: Diane and Dave Phelps write about how they decided to join the Peace Corps : 2006.08.06: August 6, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Married Couples: Older Volunteers: Idaho State Journal: Peace Corps Volunteers Diane and Dave Phelps write about life in Ukraine

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Peace Corps Volunteers Diane and Dave Phelps write about life in Ukraine

Peace Corps Volunteers Diane and Dave Phelps write about life in Ukraine

"Language training consisted of four to six hours a day of language classes, five days a week. Interspersed with that training, and on every Saturday, we received cross-cultural and technical training. Peace Corps is very interested in volunteers fitting well into the local society and both language and cross-cultural training aid in this integration. During training we also taught at local schools so that we could learn how Ukrainian schools operate and to help us fit in at our final site. This period was an extremely stressful one for us."

Peace Corps Volunteers Diane and Dave Phelps write about life in Ukraine

Pocatellans head to Ukraine on Peace Corp Mission

Narrative by Dave Phelps


Life in Ukraine has been interesting for us. Life, here, is, in some ways, similar to Pocatello, and in some ways, light years away. In some Ukrainian cities, people have ready access to the internet, and in some cities, it is non-existent. Thankfully, we have access to the internet in Bila Tserkva.

Ukrainian school teachers do not get paid very well. They average salary received would be between 250 and 700 hryven a month, which is about $50 to $140 USD. Most teachers supplement their teaching income by tutoring kids on the side. Tutoring pays 10 hryven an hour ($2 USD).

Most Ukrainians still do not own automobiles so there is a very large mass transit system. Most towns have what are called “marshrutkas”, which are vans that have seating for around 14-20 people. Marshrutkas cost 1 hryvnya to ride (about 20 cents) When fully loaded, marshrutkas can hold almost twice the seating capacity because people will stand wedged in to catch a ride. In some of the marshrutkas, the roof of the vehicle is not high enough to stand up, so you stand bent over. The common saying is: “there is always room for one more”. If you are uncomfortable being squeezed from all sides for a 15-20 minute ride, do not get on a marshrutka. You may get on when it has 10 people and the next stop might add 10 more, then the next stop another five. When you want off you must squeeze past every in front of you. That, itself, will test your comfort with being up close and personal with numerous strangers.

Diane has to ride a marshrutka because of the distance, luckily, I think a 20-25 minute walk is just fine and I am not overly enthusiastic about being packed in a marshrutka. We can not always avoid it, but if we can walk, we do. One day Diane and I were going a long distance so needed to take a marshrutka. It was so packed that I actually pushed Diane in, told her I would catch the next one, and had to push to shut the door.

We have also found that many of the conveniences that we had come to expect in America are luxuries here. We have not had a washing machine while in Ukraine, so wash our clothes in buckets and hang them out on a line to dry even in the very cold weather. Dishwashers are almost totally unknown here. In our homestay in Bila Tserkva we had an outhouse to use instead of a toilet. That was interesting when the temperature was -30 C. Many homes do not have running hot water, so water is heated on the stove in pans and used for bathing. Thankfully, in both our homestays, we had hot running water. Some of the other volunteers did not. We either buy bottled water or boil water on the stove before we drink it.

Diane and I enjoy walking, so the opportunity to live in a country where walking is an every day occurrence, not something you do just on Saturday mornings, has been good. In Pocatello, you can always see people walking, but the sidewalks here are covered with people. The sight of so many people walking surprised us.

On March 25, we moved out of our host family's home and into a flat (apartment) on the eighth floor of a nine story building. Because it is a nine story building, it has a lift (elevator). Buildings that have five floors or less do not have lifts. Lifts here are much smaller than in America, approximately three feet by four feet with somewhat low lighting.

Heating in Ukrainian apartments is actually controlled by the City Administration. Water is heated at various locations and is pumped to apartments and businesses. Almost all structures have been built with radiators in them that use hot water to provide heat. The heat can not be controlled in the apartments or businesses. You get the heat that comes and it is what it is. If it is cold, then you will be cold. If it is hot, then you will be hot. The heated water is generally shut off by the City Administration on April 15th and not turned on again until the 15th of October. Some newer structures have begun to build in their own heating system so that they have better control over their own comfort.

In Bila Tserkva there are several large grocery type stores similar to what you find in Pocatello, just as nice and well stocked. In addition to these “supermarkets”, all throughout Ukraine are shops that are called bazaars. These are little individual business spaces operated by everyday people trying to make a living. Most of the bazaar shops are about ten feet square. Some are in metal buildings and are more of a permanent type structure and some are cloth tent like places that can be moved. Most of these bazaar shops are kept open every day. There is a large bazaar in Bila Tserkva that is open on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. This bazaar brings people from all over to it because of its size. Dotted throughout Ukrainian cities are smaller bazaars that have 20-30 different shops. There are also numerous tables, without any overhead covering, set up around the cities with the proprietors selling a variety of products. The bazaar vendors are there in cold, heat, rain, snow or sunshine.

At a bazaar you can buy everything from vegetables, meat, fruit, electrical appliances, clothing, shoes, picture frames, cigarettes and alcohol (and about anything else you might be looking for). If you need to try on clothes here, the shop owner provides a sheet for you to stand behind to try things on. We are fairly sure we will not be purchasing clothes that we must try on at a bazaar.

Another big difference we have seen here is how people dress. The shoes worn by Ukrainians, both men and women have very long pointed toes. Most ladies dress shoes have four inch spike heels.

Most middle aged and older men wear black leather coats with either a black fedora type hat or the large fur hat seen in many Russian movies. Middle aged and old women wear the large fur hat as well.

Children, in the winter, are bundled up and look like the Michelin man. The littlest ones have a hard time walking so bundled up.

The typical Ukrainian family has one or two children. When we tell them we have four children, they are amazed. Most of the housing here would not support a family with more than two children. Many young married people live with one of their parents until they can afford a flat of their own.

Both the Russian Orthodox and Ukrainian Orthodox churches are quite large in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox church, while still somewhat affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, has its own leader and unified organization within Ukraine. As you travel around Ukraine, you can see many onion shaped domes, some gold, some green and some black, that typically grace the tops of Orthodox churches.

We were members of the Pocatello Church of Christ when we lived in Pocatello. When we moved to Bila Tserkva, we found that there is a Church of Christ here, a group of 18-20 members. It has been interesting to meet with them. They conduct worship services in Ukrainian most of the time, but sing both Russian and Ukrainian hymns. Our language skills are not good enough to understand all that they say. Thankfully, there are a couple of members that speak English so they can translate for us. Hearing traditional American hymns, such as Amazing Grace, being sung in the Russian or Ukrainian language is interesting. Trying to sing it in that language has been a challenge.

As of July 3, 2006, we have been in Ukraine for nine months. Those nine months have gone by very quickly because we have been so busy with training and trying to learn about our responsibilities and Ukrainian culture. We have found the people of Ukraine to be interesting and helpful. There is so much history and tradition here we want to learn, that we think will be busy for the next two years. This is truly an adventure, and the Peace Corps slogan, “The hardest job you will ever love,” is likely going to be quite true.

When this story was posted in October 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Harris Wofford to speak at "PC History" series Date: October 26 2006 No: 1011 Harris Wofford to speak at "PC History" series
Senator Harris Wofford will be the speaker at the 4th Annual "Peace Corps History" series on November 16 sponsored by the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Maryland Returned Volunteers. Previous speakers in the series have included Jack Vaughn (Second Director of the Peace Corps), Scott Stossel (Biographer of Sargent Shriver), and C. Payne Lucas (President Emeritus of Africare). Details on the time and location of the event are available here.

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Election 2006: Top Races for RPCVs Date: October 22 2006 No: 1002 Election 2006: Top Races for RPCVs
Congressman Chris Shays in Connecticut
Shays not afraid to differ with Bush 21 Oct
Maybe it's time for Shays to depart 29 Sep
Shays says US should have gone into Iraq sooner 20 Oct
Shays slams National Republican Committee 13 Oct
Shays says Abu Ghraib more pornography than torture 14 Oct
Chris Shays calls for Rumsfeld to resign 4 Oct
Shays says his faith has been shaken 15 Sep

Governor Jim Doyle in Wisconsin
Doyle started with service in Peace Corps 8 Oct
Margaret Krome writes: Doyle helps Wisconsin 27 Sep
Doyle has a slight edge in the polls 20 Oct

Kinky Friedman in Texas - Candidate for Governor
Kinky Friedman—singer, writer, governor? 31 Aug
Friedman No. 2 in polls as election day nears 16 Oct
"I want to be your good shepherd" 12 Sep

Congressman Jim Walsh in New York
Walsh facing his first serious challenge in a decade 11 Oct
Walsh points with pride to his earmarks 27 Sep

Congressman Sam Farr in California
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John Garamendi in California - Candidate for Lt. Governor
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John Kefalas in Colorado - Candidate for State House
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October 22, 2006: This Month's Top Stories Date: October 22 2006 No: 1005 October 22, 2006: This Month's Top Stories
The crisis over North Korea's nuclear bomb test 14 Oct
Hill faced strong opposition for denuclearization agreement 8 Oct
John Coyne writes: The first Peace Corps book 20 Oct
Thomas Tighe moderates discussion with President Clinton 17 Oct
PC announces Community College degree program 18 Oct
Donna Shalala expresses dismay over football brawl 16 Oct
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley defends Lebanon policy 16 Oct
Jan Guifarro elected Chair of NPCA Board 15 Oct
Carl Pope writes: From the pump to the polls 13 Oct
Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez Says Africa a Priority 12 Oct
Chris Dodd opposes Bush terrorism bill 10 Oct
Isaac Edvalson is founder of Africa's Tomorrow 9 Oct
The Man who turned down Shriver 8 Oct
Mae Jemison tells girls to reach for the stars 6 Oct
Loren Finnell receives Shriver Award 4 Oct
Matt Sesow paints onstage during opera 2 Oct
Film examines anti-malaria drug lariam 29 Sep
Blackwill dismisses Musharraf's claims 27 Sep
Ron Tschetter sworn in as 17th Peace Corps Director 26 Sep
Rape Victim Student Gets $1 Million From City College 26 Sep
Ricardo Chavira narrates Public Service Announcements 25 Sep

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps Date: September 23 2006 No: 996 Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps
Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

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Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

Chris Shays Shifts to Favor an Iraq Timetable Date: September 2 2006 No: 971 Chris Shays Shifts to Favor an Iraq Timetable
In a policy shift, RPCV Congressman Chris Shays, long a staunch advocate of the Bush administration's position in Iraq, is now proposing a timetable for a withdrawal of American troops. How Mr. Shays came to this change of heart is, he says, a matter of a newfound substantive belief that Iraqis need to be prodded into taking greater control of their own destiny under the country’s newly formed government. As Chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, he plans to draft a timetable for a phased withdrawal and then push for its adoption. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War who said that if drafted he would not serve, Chris Shays has made 14 trips to Iraq and was the first Congressman to enter the country after the war - against the wishes of the Department of Defense.

Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact Date: July 20 2006 No: 930 Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, the Peace Corps President, has been lobbying both Democratic and Republican legislators to support the US-Peruvian trade pact before July 28, when his term ends and a US congressional recess begins. If President Bush fails to get approval before Congress goes on recess, it will be a case study proving that the United States does not reward its friends. Please call your representatives.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

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Story Source: Idaho State Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; Married Couples; Older Volunteers


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