Monday, November 15, 2010

Ukrainian Dance Class and English Week

For the past few weeks, Laura, Nathan and I have been attending a dance class here in Ukraine! I originally wanted to join a traditional Ukrainian dance class, but that class is closed to the public (due to the dance troop is paid to perform at events so they are pretty professional). We attend dance class twice a week in the evenings and its great to have an extracurricular activity to do outside of the classroom. Plus I get the chance to just dance around in my TOMS shoes for a few hours. I don't really have proper dance shoes (the ladies here dance in 2 inch heels) but they don't sell any dance shoes in my little town, so I'd have to find them in Kyiv and I have no idea where to look for dance shoes. 

So far, we have learned the Cha-Cha-Cha, the Rumba, the Samba, the Jive, the Waltz, the Slow Waltz, the viennese Waltz and a hip-hop dance. There are also a few standard dance steps that our instructor calls the New York and the Stop-and-Go.  I love when we dance to familiar American music, and I actually had the opportunity to teach an American hip-hop dance move :) Dance class is also fun because the instructions are all in Russian... and the count is also in Russian - Raz, Dva, Tree etc. So I get to practice my Russian with the other people in the class and they like to practice their English skills with us so it works out well! I've also picked up a few random Russian words that haven't been taught in our Peace Corps Russian language lessons.

Here are a few photos from our dance class. My apologies for not chronicling this as much as I would have liked to - usually I am busy trying to follow dance steps in Russian and therefore I always forget to take photos during class.
One of the ladies is teaching me part of the Rumba dance. Check out my friend Luba's shoes in the background...  I am always impressed with how well she moves in those heels!
Practicing the Cha-Cha-Cha, and watching Laura (in the gray shirt) figure out the steps.

I can't believe we are already done with the Language facilitator rotation! We have been in Ukraine for approximately 6 weeks now, and Russian class is moving along rapidly. Here is Vika, our rotational Language facilitator, and her younger sister who came to visit us!

We got a picture with her sister! She was super sweet and just as excited to practice her English with us, and patient with us when we were trying to practice our Russian with her.
 We have been building our Russian vocabulary and now I can tell the time of day, talk about the weather, speak about dates and birthdays, name buildings within a city, give directions, talk about traveling on public transportation and describe most of the furniture items within my apartment using prepositions. We have learned the 4 different motion verbs in Russian for transportation - walking and traveling by vehicle (for everyday actions, for completed actions/to emphasize the duration of an action, for the beginning of an action, for the ending of an action) in the present, past and future tenses.

We played a board game in Russian class to practice saying where we were coming from and headed to, using common words like school, library, bazaar, etc.
For example, my character is the bear and I am walking from the theater to the park (between circles 24 and 26).

Nathan is practicing how to give directions in Russian while walking within a city.

Have you ever thought about how many different grammatical tenses there are in English? There are 27! Here is a photo of an exercise that we did during one of our technical training sessions.

We should have just watched Schoolhouse Rock and called it a day haha.

Margo, our super awesome Adopt-a-Cluster mentor visited this week! It was really cool to hear about her experiences with training and living on the eastern side of Ukraine. She was actually in an advanced Russian language cluster as well and now she lives in a small coal mining town (and they have a pool in the town!).

We also helped plan after-school activities for English week at school! The theme for English week was "Welcome to America" and it was a great opportunity to work with all different forms and practice English. We grouped the forms (grades) into different days and planned games and activities based on age and skill levels. We also made several posters advertising the schedule for English week.
This is the poster from the front lobby of the school, with my fun little signs about American Holidays!

For 1-4th form, we played games like Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says, and Red Light Green Light. We also sang the Hokey Pokey, I Don't Wanna be a Chicken, and I'm a Little Teapot. Although we had to give some of the instructions in Russian, the kids absolutely loved the games!

Kids love running around in circles for Duck Duck Goose, but watch out because they are super serious about it!
A huge game of Red Light Green light is hilarious with little kids and certainly helps them practice their listening skills in English.

For the older students, we presented about everyday life as a teenager - going to school, working part time, after school clubs/sports, music, etc. I taught the 10/11th form students several popular American dances such as how to do the Cupid Shuffle and Cha-Cha Slide.

The six of us PCTs with my 10th form class :)

And of course last but not least - I just wanted to share what our school lunch looks like. It is a ton of food for $8 UAH (about $1.20 USD). This photo is from last Wednesday, we had mashed potatoes, hot dogs, apple pancakes with honey (not as good as maple syrup but still tasty), bread and cabbage.
Nathan and Monica are ready to chow down.


Jet-Setting Divas said...

I want to take dance classes soooo bad! I really want to learn the Samba! Sounds like you're having fun!

Henry Gay said...

Well, it definitely sounds like you had a great stay in Ukraine as a Peace Corps volunteer! It’s unfortunate that you didn’t get the chance to learn the Ukrainian dance. That would have definitely taught you a lot about the local culture. But seeing as how you learned how to dance Chacha and Rumba, I’d say it isn’t all that bad. And looking at the photo, it seems like you certainly had a fun time in each class.

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