Friday, October 25, 2013

And Then I Pet a Puppy...

Hi all,

So, if I really were a good blogger, I would have done a better job of putting descriptors on my posts for future cross referencing. Because, indeed, I did not die. What was once my key phrase with Schmee in the village for avoiding the topic of death, made me giggle as I got covered in tiny actual puppy kisses. I already looked into bringing a dog home (to ensure good mental health through plenty of snuggles) and it will simply not be feasible. But really, it's the small things these days.

Not to be mopey - as I really have no cause. Things have just been plenty busy and the start of the week was full of nonstop action. I taught two lessons with Hugo this week - our 9th form on Monday, which went quite well, and then we ended up with the infamous 8th form on Wednesday. I really didn't think they were so bad. We definitely got some attitude, and their teacher was in with the 9th grade (don't ask me to explain how they schedule classes, as it seems it is basically a well-choreographed form of chaos...). But they seemed to get the concepts, and almost all of them did a great job with participating. Our cultural teacher was observing, and she was very pleased.
Immediately following, we facilitated a tech session on tips for teaching grammar. You guys, you know my strong love of grammar, so it should be no surprise that I was slightly stressed out by this. However, Hugo did a great job with some of the more technical aspects as they surfaced, and I think it went well.

Also, my iPad is practically the best thing ever.

I mean, sure, I can't seem to be things to load properly and I had to upload to Dropbox, resave the outline in Pages and the reopen in Dropbox so that the highlighting would load, but it makes the lesson SO much easier!

Museum Trip!
Anyhow, though I'd jump around a bit. Last week (although it feels like ages ago!), we got to go to the city museum. It was pretty cool. We were ushered (unfortunately a bit too briskly) by this incredible man who works as the curator. He is in his later years, and time has not been kind - both hands were sans several digits. Despite this profound disadvantage, this gentleman has produced hundreds of clay figures (made from clay from a local mountain that his son brings him,of course...) in several truly stunning dioramas that depict the history of the region. I don't have the pictures, though I shall attempt to get them from others,but his 6 to 8 inch tall figures were so lifelike. He also gave a brusque talk as we wandered through, and answered the question of how long it took to make a diorama with a simple shrug and answer that he simply did it in his free time. He also did a bunch of wonderful paintings, and works closely with a talented wood worker to produce some of the amazing displays.

We had gathered together some money to pay for the tour and admission, which he flatly refused. Our translator told us he k ow we are like students, and they never have enough money. But something had really touched me. This man has so obviously put his soul into the museum, and has taken much pride in its development and upkeep. So, mustering as poetic a phrase as I could manage, I asked our cultural teacher to please tell him: food cannot feed our souls, but this museum can. With a smile that reached his eyes, he declared that this was a sentiment he could not refute, and this was then obligated to take the money. I will keep insisting I am a realist....

Pizza and Money
We undertook a quest to find the local pizza place that a local volunteer had assured us was not populated by students. Curly was ecstatic to find a place she could have a quiet beer to unwind, and Hugo undertook the unenviable task of ordering. We ended up with three perfectly edible pizzas (with only one moderately surprising topping of slightly-pickled cucumbers), and enjoyed them with a great deal of culinary gusto. On the way back to the bus stop, we caught one of our link mates picking up the money. This is even more strange than I initially thought, as I have observed that even the panhandlers in Kiev do not stoop to picking them up! Apparently there is a belief that every coin (and it may be correlated to its value, not certain) will translate into a number of tears you will have because of it. I am sure the history behind this practice, and will attempt to discover it.

Kiev, Kiev, Kiev

Perhaps there will even be sunshine tomorrow? One can hope. We went again yesterday to Kiev to receive (and then immediately hand over) our residency documents to complete the first stage of becoming a legal temporary resident. This also meant that we got to visit the Roshen outlet store - which is the premier brand of chocolate in Ukraine, and is very tasty. We also had lunch again, and did some serious exploration. Found a large bookstore, branch bank, museums of natural science and literature, the opera house, an underground mall (with the most insane shoes I have ever seen!) and plenty of other shops as well. Our new language teacher (oh yes, to add to the stress we got a new language teacher for a 3 week rotation) was a great sport. We were going to go to a free art museum, but that fell through once we got to the door and discovered they were closed between exhibitions. Another time, I hope.

However we are going tomorrow, and it will hopefully be less stressful that the previous times, as we somewhat have our bearings down. I am not on a mission to find anything other than a tea ball and perhaps Biscoff, but the atmosphere is a nice change from the village.

Anyhow, signing off for the night.

Hope all is well!


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