What a couple of weeks! After the Language Proficiency Interview (otherwise known as the oral exam), the final few days in Kyinka seemed to go pretty quickly with all of the things that needed doing. Especially packing! Because of all of the materials we received from Peace Corps, I needed to get a new duffle bag. The day I bought it (last Saturday), we were in the middle of a HOT spell – someone said it was around 40 degrees Celsius. Whatever the actual temperature was, it was pretty hot, and taking the bus into the city was no fun at all. After walking around the bazaar for less than an hour, we (Emily and I) went home on what seemed to be the longest bus ride I have ever taken. However, I got home and found out that we were going to the river! Although most people who live in Kyinka go to the river there, my family was from Chernihiv and preferred to the location in the city. Because it was so hot, there were many, many people there. I can now add the Desna River to the waterways in which I have gone swimming.
Monday morning we left for Kyiv, and found out that same afternoon where we were to live for the next two years. I was assigned to Kirovohrad, which is dead in the center of Ukraine. I had originally thought I would be heading west but after I saw where Kirovohrad is located, I was happy to go, as I will be able to visit people anywhere in Ukraine with relative ease.
On Wednesday night I went to the Opera in Kyiv with a bunch of volunteers – the Opera House is really beautiful (and of course I have photos of it, under the Kyiv album on Picasa) and it was a really nice production, though it had a “happy” ending whereas I believe operas are generally supposed to have more tragic endings…
We had our swearing in ceremony on Thursday. It was nice to finally take the oath of volunteers and be official! Of course there are photos from that too on Picasa, in addition to photos of the people from my region (Region 7).
So here I sit in my new home for the next two years. When we were told that many of us would live in “dormitories”, I was curious as to what that meant. When I found out that I was to be in an Oblast Center, I figured I would be one of those in a dormitory. Indeed I am, but it is a dormitory for visiting faculty, and while there are four rooms, I have one to myself (which has four beds in it, and I am working on trying to get one or two of them removed). There is a kitchenette down the hall with a refrigerator, microwave, and sink. Apparently I am to eat many of my meals in the university’s dining area. There is also a separate room for the shower and one with the toilet and two sinks. Overall it is pretty nice, and the things that I need or have questions about they are working on (such as where and how I will wash and dry my clothes, and getting a wardrobe for my clothes, as they are all currently folded and laying on one of the beds). But I have no complaints – everyone here has been so nice and accommodating, and I did not even have to bring my suitcases up the stairs!
So what will I be doing in Kirovohrad? I have yet to find out precisely. My assignment is to work with a “Union of Entrepreneurs” as a primary project, and with the college/university as a secondary project. The university is where I am living, and yesterday I had a bit of a whirlwind day with them. I spent Thursday night at my counterpart’s house, and at 8 a.m. I was picked up and brought over here. I met the Director of the university right away (and of course, I was not prepared to do so), then they brought me to my room where I unpacked, then back over to talk to the Director, have lunch, and meet again. He invited me to accompany some of the teachers to the Carpathians on Monday for some sort of sporting competition, and of course I said yes! Then back to my room to try to fill out my Emergency Locator Form (so PC knows where I live, how to get here, local police and hospital information, etc.), and THEN back to the school (which is about 20 meters from where I live) for a meeting with all of the teachers, where I was introduced to them all, and the Director talked about a few of the things I “may” be able to help them with…this remains to be seen. One of the things he mentioned was whether I was familiar with scientific methodology at American universities (I’m not). Apparently, while I am with the teachers in the Carpathians, the Director and my counterpart are going to put together a “plan” for what I am going to do for them. So this ought to be interesting, especially since I have not even met the Director of my primary assignment! Apparently he is out of town right now and I will meet him next Monday.
So here I am, thrown into the deep end, language-wise. I am able to pick up some of what is said – more or less depending on the situation and how fast the person is speaking (holy cow people speak quickly!) I consider myself very lucky that my counterpart speaks English, so it is less awkward while I am trying to learn more Ukrainian. In addition, the English instructor at the University apparently also majored in Ukrainian, so she may be able to help me as my tutor, I am not sure yet. Though part of me wonders whether I should start learning Russian, as even though this is a bi-lingual country (and area), it seems that most people here are speaking Russian. Well, for now I’ll keep going with the Ukrainian and pick up the Russian later…maybe…I don’t know…I may consult with the language folks at PC in Kyiv on this one.
As for Internet access…I am uploading this blog post from an “Internet Club” in Kirovohrad, and hope to somehow get access at my home soon.