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Bad Days and Good Days

September 4, 2010

So. I am sitting here at work (yes, on a Saturday. I found out on Thursday that the work week at the University is Tuesday-Saturday), and I am wondering how to relay some of the more recent goings-on in my life without being a total and complete bore. Maybe there is no way around it…so I won’t be too detailed.

Tuesday was a bad day. I got to the Freshman Inauguration, and saw that everyone was really. dressed. up. Of course, I did not get the memo to dress up, and cannot read minds. I was not wearing jeans, but was in normal “business casual” wear. Not a great beginning to the day. At the inauguration, I got up and started my speech. In Ukrainian. Now, because I am not fluent in this really, really difficult language, and I was reading, in front of a large group of people, I was a bit nervous.  And because I was nervous, I stumbled a bit (well, also because I am not fluent, as I said before). Well, I had not gotten far into my (five minute, with my reading it) speech when I was interrupted. The director of the university had told Lena to interrupt me and have me finish my speech in English, with her translating. Well, I did not have it in English, because I was doing it in Ukrainian…so she ended up finishing my speech for me. I won’t go say anything else because it would be seen as culturally insensitive.

So. Tuesday was a bad day. Oy, was it a bad day. It is interesting the impact that a bad day can have on a person here. Luckily for me, it was temporary.

Wednesday, I got two packages from my mom, with some of my cold-weather things, and some treats. Made it a much better day. I also went to the English Club that is run by a couple of the TEFL volunteers, and met some really nice people there. Possibly I will eventually have some friends (other than Sophia, who is wonderful but leaving in December)?

Wednesday was also the first day of school in Ukraine. And since my office is at the university, I get to see all the students and am becoming part of the community here. One thing I find especially interesting is that, at my university, during one of the breaks in classes, all of the students go outside for a “physical exercise” time, when they play music and are supposed to move around. Most of the students just stand and socialize, but it is interesting that they have it. I think it probably fits into the university’s goal of developing well-rounded students. Still, it sometimes reminds me of recess…

So here I sit at work on a Saturday, which is about to become my “routine” except I warned them that there will be some Saturdays when I won’t be here, because of Peace Corps or other activities I have going on.

Speaking of work, many people are asking me exactly what I am doing here. Well, while I am still trying to figure that out, I can give you a list of some of the things I am, or will be, doing:

* Appeared on a local TV show called “Press Club.” They were discussing Pension Reform in Ukraine and asked me a few questions about retirement in America.

* Gave a (half) speech at freshman inauguration for the university.

* Starting a Rotaract club at the university.

* Presenting a 40-minute program on Peace Corps and American Lifestyles to the pensioner students.

* Putting together two photo exhibitions at the university. I tried to get it so that I was sharing these with the students, but that just got it split into two – one of some of my photos from my travels, and one of some of my photos from Ukraine, along with students’ photos.

* Writing for the student newspaper on a monthly basis.

* Starting a Conversational English Club at the university.

* Presenting at the conferences the university is having (on different topics) and writing associated white papers to go with the conferences (which will be published in their materials).

* Investigating the possibility of doing a Model United Nations program at the university.

* Investigating AIDS programs to organize.

* Presentations at the conferences  which the union (my primary assignment) is putting together, also on varied topics.

* Presentation on Gender Politics/Gender Issues in America.

* Presentation on Starting a Small Business in America.

* Presentation on Women in Business in America.

* Working with other PCVs on a program to recognize the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on a Ukraine-wide basis.

* Grant research.

So. That is what I am currently working on. It seems my broad work background is finally going to be of benefit to me!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2010 12:54 am

    That’s an impressive list. Despite the bad days and set backs, it does appear that you are finally in a place where all of your skills and background are going to be fully utilized.

  2. Lisa permalink
    September 9, 2010 12:03 pm

    Ahh, some day you’ll look back at Freshman inauguration and laugh. I picture the students looking ready to go out to a dance club in their fancy attire. Were there sequins in the audience? Kudos to you for trying to do your speech in their mother tongue. You just recruited more students to your English conversation class. They will feel much more comfortable talking with you leading the group knowing that you struggle too.
    There is always a silver lining and you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You are getting some great exposure. Always a good idea to keep track of the interesting things on your list. You’ll need this when you prep for other work post-PC.
    Start to laugh at the silliness of it all. It easier and healthier. Tomorrow is another day. You rock, sister!

    • September 9, 2010 11:02 pm

      Lisa – yep, sequins can be seen here on a daily basis, actually! They don’t wait for a special occasion to wear them🙂

  3. Eve permalink
    October 6, 2010 12:12 pm

    I’m catching up on your posts. 🙂

    I had noticed from your FB posts that you were doing a variety of things at your job, but wow! 🙂 Seriously, that is a really impressive list. I would love to have work that varied. It should keep you busy and interested.

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