Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Day in the Life of Ukraine: May 5th, 2012

I've been really behind on my blog since our school had exams to finish up the semester, and now that school is out I have a little more time on my hands... This blog post was my submission to "A Day in the Life of Ukraine," a project organized by two Peace Corps Volunteers, Melissa Krut and Andrew Cartright. The idea of the project is to capture a glimpse into the diversity of life in Ukraine, with many people from all over the country sharing their personal stories and experiences on one day of the year. 

On May 5th, 2012 my sitemate Sam Choi and I conducted a mini-camp for students from our schools. This camp was focused on HIV/AIDS education and awareness, and each of the volunteers taught a lesson with the help of one of Sam’s 11th grade students. The camp was funded by Sam’s PEPFAR grant – also known as the Presidents Executive Program for AIDS Relief.  

The students are showing off the posters that they made about HIV. 
Due to a lack of education about HIV and AIDS, many Ukrainians are afraid of anything associated with this disease. This leads to an enormous stigma attached to being HIV positive in this country so therefore, many people choose not to get tested because simply being seen walking into a testing center may lead to problems in their professional and private lives. These are just a few of the reasons why it is especially important to teach accurate information about prevention and transmission to better educate our communities, hopefully also reducing stigma and discrimination. 

We began the camp by playing some classic American summer camp games as icebreakers, such as “Let Me See Your Funky Chicken,” "Baby Shark" and “Boom Chicka Boom”. Ukrainian kids always think that these types of active songs and games are hilarious because they don't tend to sing such songs at Ukrainian camps. 
Acting out "Baby Shark" - this is the part where they saw a shark... 
After that, the students were divided into 5 teams and we began teaching our lessons. I taught a lesson with one of Sam's 11th form students, Ira Melenchenko, about HIV Biology and Transmission. 

The other lessons were Prevention, Stigma and Discrimination, Statistics and a condom demonstration. The students rotated through all of the lessons during the day with their teams. I think that the students enjoyed the team-taught lessons, we did our best to make these serious topics interesting so that they would pay attention and be active participants. 

10th form boys listening in their lesson. 
Learning about prevention.
Discussing stigma and discrimination. 
The camp lasted from 10am until 4pm, and we invited several other Peace Corps Volunteers from our Oblast to come help teach lessons and work with the students. Sam conducted a “training of trainers” with some of his students last year, and they have been actively helping him with his HIV-related projects during the course of this year.
Kyle lesson planning with 2 of the girls.

We took a break during the afternoon to have some relay races and let the kids run around outside. The Ukrainian kids had never participated in what Americans would consider to be classic outdoor games, such as a 3-legged race or wheelbarrow race. This was an interesting cross-cultural moment: whereas American children think that its perfectly normal to run around barefoot, Ukrainian children are mildly appalled by this idea and some of them actually grimaced at the thought of taking their shoes off. 

The boys are ready to start the wheelbarrow race. 
The girls thought taking just 1 shoe off was crazy... 
Working together to figure out how to make a pyramid with 6 people was challenging. 
But they got it... this team was the winner! 
Throughout the day, each team of students worked to help paint two benches that Sam bought for their AIDS Memorial Garden. Each student had the opportunity to paint their name or a fact about HIV. Some students even painted statistics that they learned during the day! 
Starting to paint the red ribbon for HIV awareness. 
a few girls working on their sections. 
The two finished HIV/AIDS Memorial benches! 
The last step in Sam's PEPFAR grant is to plant some red flowers in the shape of a giant red ribbon, and they will place the two benches along the garden to complete the AIDS Memorial. Sam is still currently working on digging the garden, so I'll post up some photos here when he is finished (maybe in a week or so). 


Cara Memperbesar said...

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A Day in the Life of Ukraine: May 5th, 2012

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