Friday, September 10, 2010

Gifts for My Ukrainian Host Family and Friends

Almost every Peace Corps packing list has advised us to bring along some gifts for our host family in Ukraine, and for the friends that we will meet along our journey. Many PCVs also give gifts to their Ukrainian counterparts at their school or in their workplace. The packing lists that I have read have recommended small things that are made in the USA or souvenir-type trinkets like shotglasses, magnets, postcards, puzzles, hats, ties, small scented body lotions, stickers, etc.The gifts are expected to be generic, and apparently Ukrainians really enjoy things from your hometown or with pictures of life in the United States.

So I went down to Chinatown here in San Francisco last weekend to do a little souvenir shopping. You really can't beat Chinatown's prices for things like this... shotglasses that were $1 in Chinatown would sell for like $4.99 just a few blocks away in Union Square. And Ukrainians love shotglasses since they are useful and some people even collect them as a hobby. I bought some San Francisco shotglasses, magnets and keychains. I also bought a bunch of postcards and I have some New York City postcards from our family trip as well. Sasha, my Peer Advisor, recommended that I go buy a few cheap frames to frame some of the postcards. She says that framed postcards actually look classy and are nice gifts - she gave one to her coworker and Sasha's coworker keeps it on her wardrobe in her living room!

While I was downtown with my family, we ate dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. I forgot the name of it, should have grabbed a business card or something. My sister ordered a Create-Your-Own-Pizza dish, which she thought meant that she just picked the toppings for it. She picked tomatoes, meatballs, and mushrooms. To her surprise, our waiter brought out the raw pizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings for her to actually put the pizza together herself! She was really excited and here is a picture of her pizza creation!

I picked up some cheap puzzles and flashcards at Target. One of the puzzles is a map of the United States and the other one is of a $1 dollar bill. The flashcards are US History and Presidents.... two things that I need to brush up on myself! I can use these in the classroom for activities and games with my students. Its also recommended that we bring some dice and the card game Uno to play number games with.

My sister wanted to go to the Niketown store in Union Square, so we went inside. They were giving away some free Nike Silly Bandz to promote something, so I grabbed a handful of those to give to the high schoolers (or kids) that I teach in Ukraine. I have no idea if they are popular there, but I'm sure they will be since my sister is in high school and pretty much obsessed with them.

We also saw a Rolls Royce outside of Chinatown. There was a wedding at a church on Grant Street, and the drive had rolled out a red carpet leading from the church doors right up to the Rolls Royce. So fancy :)

 Another exciting thing is that my Russian/English Pocket Dictionary came in the mail yesterday! It is not as pocket-sized as I thought it would be... its about 2 inches thick. But the reviews of it online said that it was a good dictionary to have. Plus I bought it pretty cheap on, so I think it will be worth its size and weight that it takes up in my luggage. I was proud of myself when I was able to translate the Cyrillic font on the spine to "Anglo-Russki".


sally said...

that dictionary is HUGE, girls.

also, the 5 thing about asians in your previous post... i do or have done all 5 haha

i'm hitting "follow" right now!

sally said...

i meant "girl," not plural. nick distracted me.

Bi said...

Wow, I must say that reading about all of your prep work is making ME exhausted!! Loved your previous post about your Asian-ness.. I didn't realize that those things were Asian stereotypes! I am very guilty of hoarding plastic bags as well, haha!

AshleyAnne said...

Get ready to transfer that bag hoarding instinct to Ukraine. They are constantly carrying around their own bags here. Good luck getting ready! Looks like you're on your way.
1 recommendation- get one of those booklets of a billion and one motivational stickers for teachers on the cheap before you get here. They will definitely come in handy.

Boston said...

I know we're going to two totally different continents, but I love reading about your preparations. My toolkit says I've been invited but won't tell me where -- I guess my letter is on its way! I'm so impatient!!!

Jing said...

@AshleyAnne - Thanks for the tip! I went and bought a booklet of 535 motivational stickers at the Dollar store :)

@Boston - That is so exciting! If you are really impatient and want to try to guess where you are going, you can take a look at, you might be able to tell if someone else has already posted your departure date in Sub-Saharan Africa or whatever. Good luck!

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