2009.04.07: April 7, 2009: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: ReporterHerald.com: Jessica Benes is volunteering in Ukraine through the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : Peace Corps Ukraine: Newest Stories: 2009.04.07: April 7, 2009: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: ReporterHerald.com: Jessica Benes is volunteering in Ukraine through the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) (141.157.16.199) on Thursday, April 09, 2009 - 4:44 pm: Edit Post

Jessica Benes is volunteering in Ukraine through the Peace Corps

Jessica Benes is volunteering in Ukraine through the Peace Corps

Iíve done things here so outside my normal comfort zone (sometimes unintentionally) that Iím not sure Iíll find my way back to the same place. Nor would I want to. Iím living in Ukraine as a Peace Corps volunteer. I like it. Well, usually I like it, on the days when I havenít been stuffed into a sardine-train (the cheap commuter trains), asked why Iím not married or been told Iíve gained weight. But even those moments I take in stride now, because Iím a volunteer, and this is my home for the time.

Jessica Benes is volunteering in Ukraine through the Peace Corps

Loveland volunteer learning about life in the Ukraine, her pupils and herself

By Sarah Bultema
Loveland Reporter-Herald

Caption: Jessica Benes of Loveland, center in pink, poses with several "seventh form" English students at School No. 5 in Koziatyn, Ukraine.

About a year and a half ago, former Reporter-Herald staffer Jessica Benes moved to Ukraine to teach English to schoolchildren.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, the 29-year-old has been leading classes, tutoring pupils and running an English club ever since.

Now, after seeing a need in the classroom, Benes is trying to raise money back in her hometown and home country to buy new books and materials for the Ukrainian students.

Below is Benesí personal account of her time volunteering abroad and an explanation about why the children so desperately need the help.

ē ē ē

Me: You know I donít like to eat the organs of the animals.

My teacher friend: Well, the pancakes (malincy) that I made a few weeks ago had the meat of hearts and livers in them.

Me: I ate hearts and livers?

Iíve done things here so outside my normal comfort zone (sometimes unintentionally) that Iím not sure Iíll find my way back to the same place. Nor would I want to. Iím living in Ukraine as a Peace Corps volunteer.

I like it. Well, usually I like it, on the days when I havenít been stuffed into a sardine-train (the cheap commuter trains), asked why Iím not married or been told Iíve gained weight. But even those moments I take in stride now, because Iím a volunteer, and this is my home for the time.

The weather has been improving and with it, my mood has risen by leaps. Things that donít help my mood are when people like my sister say itís 75 degrees in Colorado while Iím shivering here at 25-30 degrees with snow and rain. Snow AND rain. At the same time.

I have made great friends here and my counterpart teacher is amazing. I travel every other week to Vinnytsia, the capital of the oblast (territory), to attend an English club with other English-speaking Ukrainians and Americans.

And, most importantly, I teach English classes to fifth through 10th grade in School No. 5 in a city called Koziatyn.

My fifth forms are precocious and active, not necessarily at learning English, but at least still interested in me. Every day when they see me, they run up and ask in Ukrainian, ďWill you be with us today?Ē I used to answer automatically in Ukrainian, but now I ask them, ďHow do you say it in English?Ē which stumps them but they repeat after me and are starting to remember it.

My sixth forms also do their best. There are about five or six girls who shake their arms wildly to answer and sometimes I have to shush them to ask some of the less-active pupils.

My seventh and eighth forms like to push the limit because Iím not as interesting to them anymore and donít speak the language as well as their regular teachers.

I feel accomplished some days, and not so much some days. Iíve been teaching my own curriculum on the United States with the ninth form (because according to the national curriculum, they are supposed to spend several weeks on the U.S., yet there is little information in the book).

A few weeks ago I brought the ingredients for burritos during the talk on American food, and they loved it.

My tenth form is strong but getting lazy and Iím working harder to push them to do their homework.

I could use some help. We would like to get some better English textbooks in the classroom. I canít stress enough how frustrating it is sometimes to teach with some of the books.

We want to buy some great British seriesí that engage the children, and have better texts and activities than most Ukrainian-authored books.

In addition, when I went home for Christmas, I recorded videos in different scenarios. Iím editing them into educational videos to show in the classroom, to go along with the more difficult books. Iíll have some of the kids help me, so that they can take ownership of the project as well.

The teachers need a way to show these videos, as well as other English movies and presentations, in the classroom, so weíd like to get a computer projector and a white board. The whiteboard would be a godsend because 1) their chalkboard is ancient and doesnít work well and 2) we will be able to project onto it.

Iíve applied for a Peace Corps Partnership grant which enables me to partner with all of you, my friends, family, and those readers who remember my column, in helping me to expand the English department resources.

Peace Corps has set up a Web site link for me at (and this will be fun for you to type): www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.donor s.contribute.donatenow.

Search by country of service, Ukraine, and click on ďBenes J.Ē You can read a description of my project.

It would be such a help to us if you visited the link and donated (tax-deductible) to help my kids get more excited and interested in English. This is the reason Iím here.

Iím always so thankful to all of you for posting comments on my blog (located on the Reporter-Herald Web site), writing me e-mails, or just thinking about me.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: April, 2009; Peace Corps Ukraine; Directory of Ukraine RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Ukraine RPCVs





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Story Source: ReporterHerald.com

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