Friday, January 27, 2012

Skiing in the Carpathian Mountains!

Over winter break, I had the opportunity to go skiing with Kharkov Gymnasium No. 82. My friend Whitney used to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer there, but she already finished her service and went home so her counterpart Svetlana invited me and another PCV to travel with the students instead. We spent about 6 days skiing at Bukovel, a ski resort in the Ivanko-Frankivska Obast (in western Ukraine), skiing during the day and teaching English lessons in the evenings. It was really beautiful out there, it was almost like being in a whole different country! I had never been skiing before but I loved it, it was awesome :)

Me with a bunch of the students on the ski slopes!

The Kharkiv - Ivano Frankivsk train has been cancelled recently, due to construction and repairs of the railroads... so we traveled through Kyiv. Many of the students had never been to Kyiv before so they really enjoyed walking around Independence Square and seeing some of the main sights downtown. We also saw the "national" Christmas tree of Ukraine, the one located in the Maidan  (Independence Square).

Olya and Nika, two adorable girls from 6th grade. 
Everyone by the Christmas tree.  And a panda photobombing. 
Ty (another PCV) with Illyaz, Marina and Julia. 
We actually stayed in a small town called Yarmche, about 45 min from Bukovel. I roomed with 6 girls, ranging from 5th grade to 11th grade. We had an apartment with 2 rooms and a kitchen. At first I was really nervous to go skiing, because I've heard from so many friends who have gotten skiing-related injuries from falling and whatnot. But after I actually tried it, I found that it wasn't that bad... kind of a cross between the balance of surfing and the coordination of ice skating.

with Darina and Liza. 
Riding the ski lift with Olya!
so many people!
Ty and I taught lessons focused on healthy lifestyles in English. Svetlana and the students wanted to film a series of social advertisements, so we taught topics such as anti-smoking, anti-drinking, the environment, sports, music, leadership, diversity, etc. I felt a little like a Peace Corps LCF (language facilitator) because I was teaching groups of kids and using the strips of paper method that is the signature of many LCF's :)

Maxim and Vadim (7th grade)
Matching American slang words. 
The girls on the couch. 
Olya, Dima and Sasha. 
Ty working with the students on their rap. 
We also celebrated Christmas on January 7th by cooking shashlik (like shish kabobs). Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on the orthodox date because most of them of Eastern Orthodox. Children walk around the neighborhoods, dressed in interesting costumes and singing Christmas carols. However, I was told that this is only a tradition in western Ukraine and its not so popular in eastern Ukraine.

with Ira and Anya, two university students who are alumni of Gymnasium 82.
Nika, Elvira, Olya and Julia. 
Konstantine, Sergey, Marina and Ty. 
The carolers!
I had a ton of fun hanging out in western Ukraine, especially since Kharkiv didn't really get any snow until last week (and now its already -20 degrees C). I walked around the ski resort with the kids and we bought tons of souvenirs :)

near the ice skating rink with Julia and Liza. 
Sasha, Julia, me and Liza. 
Liza, Julia, me and Dina. 
A huge ice-sculpture advertisement with the girls. 
After we got back from the trip, the kids put together a video slideshow of photos and videos from the trip...   enjoy!! I was very thankful to have the opportunity to go on this trip and I hope that I'll see these kids around in the future, they were a ton of fun to be with and they all loved learning English :P


Post a Comment