Monday, January 17, 2011

Back to School and Celebrating Old New Years in Ukraine!

Sorry for the long delay between posts, I was traveling around a bit for the holidays. I went back to my old town in the Kyiv oblast for New Years, which was great. It was nice to be back and to see my host family (including our two pet bunnies). I also had the chance to walk around Kyiv on a sunny day :)
Independence Square at night, with all the holiday festivities.
The view of St. Sophia's church from up in the bell tower.
A mosaic exhibit inside St. Sofia's church entirely made out of the hand-painted eggs! Click the picture to enlarge for a closer view of the eggs.
There is a skylift behind St. Michael's church! I am going to check this out next time I travel to Kyiv.
When I got back to my site, it had snowed! So we did have a white Christmas in Ukraine after all, since most people in Ukraine celebrate Christmas on January 7th. Thank goodness for my Yaktrax, I would have slipped and fallen on the snowy and icy roads without them!
The walkway leading to the front my school, all covered in snow!
The snow is so pretty on the trees.
During the winter break, I also traveled to Kupyansk (a nearby town that is a little bigger than mine) to hang out with a few other American friends. Fun Fact: Kupyansk's claim to fame is that sometime in the period between 1917 – 1934 when Kharkov was the capital of Ukraine, the government apparently moved the capital of Ukraine to Kupyansk for a day. We played Apples to Apples, cooked  homemade hamburgers, and tried a Ukrainian dish - bread and butter topped with fish eggs.
With Alison and David.
The interesting new Ukrainian dish... It looks like sushi but definitely does not taste like sushi!
Me and Chris : )
Ukraine also celebrates Old New Years with several traditions (see previous blog post for the explanation of why there is an old new years and a regular new years). On January 13th, Old New Years Eve, children go from door to door and sing Christmas carols in exchange for candies and chocolates. This is very similar to the American Halloween trick-or-treat tradition, though the Ukrainian children do not dress in costumes for Old New Years. On the morning of Old New Years Day, January 14th, men and boys go around knocking on everyone's doors. According to traditions, it is lucky for the first person to enter each room in a house to be a man or boy. Once the man or boy has entered the room, he throws buckwheat or grain onto the floor and recites a rhyme wishing good luck and happiness for the upcoming year. Then as thanks, the men or boys are presented with small gifts such as candies or $1 UAH bills.The last part of this tradition is that you may not clean up the buckwheat grains until the next day, or else you will sweep away your good luck!
4 students from my 5A class came to throw buckwheat in my English classroom.
I started team teaching my English classes last week. I am currently teaching the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 10th forms (grades) and working with 3 of the 4 English teachers at my school. My younger students are super excited to have class with me, they always run up to me and say "hello!" in the halls. My older students are a bit more shy to practice their English, but are also excited to be able to talk to an American and learn some more about American culture and lifestyles during English Club.
With some students from the 8B class and my fellow English teacher Larisa Alexandrovna.
With most of the students in my 5A class.
And last but not least, happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Today was a normal school day for us here in Ukraine, but I had the chance to share the famous quote said by Dr. King in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963: "I have a dream that one day, my four little children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character".


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