Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Swearing-In and My New Home

I can’t believe 3 months have flown by so fast in Ukraine!

After a very busy week in Kyiv last week, I am now officially a Peace Corps Volunteer! The Swearing-In Conference was a week of informational sessions and excitement, as it was great to see old friends that I hadn’t seen since Staging and meet the other half of group 40 that arrived in Ukraine a week before me.

With Nicole, Avital and Colette.
Hanging out with Peter, Jonathan, Warren, Jun and a few new friends.
Shortly after we all arrived in Kyiv, we settled into the dorms. It was fun to be back on a university campus, I forgot how much fun living with roommates was! I was in the triple room of a suite that connected with a double room and bathroom.
My awesome roommates, Deedra and Nicole.
Alison, Katie and Bri in the dorms.

After lunch on our first day, they had announcements of where all the Trainees in group 40 would be working in Ukraine! There are 86 volunteers in group 40, and we are now spread out all over the country. My site is located on the eastern side of Ukraine, in Kharkiv Oblast. Here is a glance at the map of all of our sites.

I am on a purple post-it note in a teal colored oblast.

We also got to meet our Ukrainian Counterparts for the first time. Counterparts are typically future colleagues, so for us TEFL volunteers that means that our Counterparts also teach at the same school that we will be working in. For Community and Youth development volunteers, Counterparts are usually involved in a volunteer’s primary organization.
My Counterpart Alina and I with my friend Melanie and her Counterpart, by the flags on stage.

We also had an informational session about all of the different “working groups” that are within Peace Corps Ukraine, such as the Volunteer Advisory Committee, Gender and Development (GAD) Council, Technology for Development, Healthy Lifestyles, Multicultural Awareness Council (MAC), HIV/AIDS Awareness, Environmental Working Group, and Special Needs Working Group.
My super awesome peer advisor Sasha came to Swearing-In to represent MAC and GAD.

On Wednesday evening, we had a little concert as Peter Yarrow from “Peter, Paul and Mary” came and performed live on stage. He was joined by Kurt Hagamann, a PCV from our group who is awesome at playing the sax.
Peter playing on stage with our Country Director Douglas Teschner and Kurt.
Not to be outdone, Warren shared his lovely piano skills.
 The actual Swearing-In Ceremony took place on Thursday, and many host families came to watch their Trainees become Volunteers.
My training cluster and linked cluster (minus Monica) with our country director.
Repping the ATL with Dara and Nathan.

With my suitemates Deedra, Melanie and Natalie.
 We also said goodbye to our dear Language Facilitator and Technical Facilitator. Without Larysa and Vika (our two Language Facilitators), I would not have learned enough Russian to score at the Intermediate High level. And our Technical Facilitator Ludmyla was immensely helpful in providing guidance on how to plan and structure our English lessons.
With Luda, Larysa and two of the host families from my training town.
Heather, Nathan and I with Vika.

Moving into my new town was a little bit crazy since my train arrived at 6:30 in the morning. It was snowing outside on top of the already existing 4 inches of snow on the ground. Luckily a few people met us at the train tracks, including my school Director, her husband, and my fellow PCV site-mate. They were a great help with my luggage and drove me to my new apartment. My new apartment is great, it is a furnished 1 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and bathroom (including a regular shower with running hot/cold water and a clothes washing machine!). I am also lucky to have lots of pots, pans, dishes and a full size refrigerator in my kitchen. Here is a photo tour of my new home.
My bedroom/living room. I sleep on a flip-down sofa.

This is the other half of my bedroom, with a flip-out table and 3-ft tall teddy bear.
I have a balcony, which will be nice for hanging out in the summer.
The view from my kitchen.
Washing machines look a little different here in Ukraine! Don't worry, my landlady showed me how to use this one.
My kitchen (sorry for the unpacking/cooking mess).

The view from my balcony... check out how icy the streets are!
 I can't believe Christmas is right around the corner! This will be my first Christmas without my family, but hopefully I will be able to spend it with some of my new friends here. Happy holidays to everyone!


Sally K said...

Congrats on getting sworn in!!!! So proud of you!! Send me your new address!

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