Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Adventures in Ukraine

Brrrrr... its so cold here in Ukraine now! It has been between -10 and -20 degrees C in my town, which is definitely a lot colder than winters in Atlanta, GA. Many children are getting the flu, and schools across Ukraine tend to either shorten classes or cancel school altogether when it gets too cold outside. Many of my friends who live in the Donetsk Oblast have quarantine at their schools, meaning that school has been canceled to prevent the students from getting sick from each other. Well, I'm not sure how cold is "too cold" to go to school, but my school is still operating normally for now. My town newspaper published an article about me coming to work at the Lyceum and about my sitemate Sam who works at the Gymnasium in our town. Here are two photos from the newspaper- I uploaded them and can't seem to rotate them back to horizontal (sorry, blogfail!).
My picture from the front page.
In the classroom with a few of my 8th grade students.
This past weekend, I traveled to visit my friend Alison in the neighboring town (about an hour away from me). Alison lives in an apartment building close to her town's Бокзал (vokzal - train station) and right next to a swimming pool! We went swimming with a few teachers from her school, which was quite the adventure... they made us take legit showers (including washing our bodies with soap) before we put on our swimsuits, only then were you allowed to get into the pool area. Most swimming pools have a rule that you should shower before swimming, but this was honestly the first pool that I have been to in many years that strictly enforces the shower before swimming rule.

The pool turned out to be a 3 lane by 20 meter pool, which was completely strange and foreign to me. I've traveled to quite a few countries and swam in their pools, and this is the FIRST pool that I have encountered that hasn't been one of the international standard lengths of 25 meters (short course), 25 yards (American short course), or 50 meters (Olympic size/long course). They only had one lap swim lane, and no T on the bottom or flags... but they did have blocks! I wish I could have taken a photo of the pool, but I forgot to bring my camera with me.

There is also an outdoor skating rink and football stadium near Alison's apartment. While the football field is completely snowed over, the ice skating rink is super cute. You can rent skates and go ice skating there for just $8 UAH (the equivalent of $1 USD) per hour. Alison goes ice skating there frequently with students from her school, and they invited me to go along with them!

Yasa and I - she is one of Alison's cute 6th graders.
Alison and a few more of her students.
Yesterday, Alison's sitemate Tiago met up with us downtown and we went to their Bazaar (open air market) to go shopping for some fresh food. We decided to make pizza using lavash (the Ukrainian version of tortillas) and random toppings such as pineapple, ham, cheese, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, beans, and red bell peppers. The pizza was really easy to make and turned out delicious!
so many toppings!
Today, Alison and Tiago and I decided to go check out the old steel mill on the edge of their town. The Kharkiv region used to be a very busy industrial production area with many factories about 50 or 60 years ago. It used to be one of the biggest steel mills during Soviet times, and they employed around 35,000 workers. I'm not sure what happens in the steel mill now (since my industrial Russian vocabulary is pretty limited), but there are still guards posted at the entrances to the mill and the factory is still surrounded by barbed wire. We were hoping to be able to walk inside and take a look at their production lines or operations, but the factory is closed to the public so here are some photos from our walk around the outside of the steel mill.
This sign says that this is a Soviet factory.
maybe an old shipping/receiving dock of their warehouse?
One of the old gates to the factory.
piles of old materials covered in snow.
A crane and some sort of conveyor belt behind the gate.
This week at school, I taught the Past Continuous tense to my 5th grade class. I wrote out a bunch of different verbs, pronouns, and all the names of the students for them to come up to the board and build a sentence in the Past Continuous tense (disclaimer: the teacher that I work with wrote the stuff on the chalkboard). Also, I applied for Darien Book Aid and my request got approved! That means that 20 lbs of free English books will be shipped to my site soon. I'm really excited to see what they send us :)
Helping one of my students learn Past Continuouse.
5th graders love talking about playing football!
 One of the English teachers that I work with at my school was nice enough to give me a jar of pickles and a jar of pickled squash. Her name is Svetlana and she hosted the Peace Corps volunteer that my school had from 2006-08. She brought me pickles because she remembered that the other PCV girl loved pickles... I love Ukrainian pickles too! The pickles here are all home grown and home-made, canned in glass mason jars. And this reminds me of  The Pickle Project, a project by two girls who worked in Ukraine as Fulbright Scholars. You can check out their project here about the local foodways of Ukraine, including the sustainable food practices of growing and selling produce locally.
Mmmm... pickled squash and cucumbers!


Geeta Singh said...

very nice well organised blog

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