The Heart of Ukraine

It has been 3 months since, I’ve been home… and as expected I left a huge part of my heart in Ukraine.

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It’s hard to know when you’re teaching a group of eager youngsters that they were born into a country- that is considered one of the worst places to be born in 2013.

But during my service I never felt like Ukraine was a ‘hopeless cause’… I always felt as though it was one of those rare places where hope could be right in front of you.

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In its people…

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In its children…

Maybe it took really being there to see the beauty of ‘that country‘ that has been on the news lately.

I miss the heart of ‘those people‘ so much, that I can still see the beauty in Ukraine even though its capital is on fire.

I’ve been trying to distance myself from the news lately… because when a country you love is facing the prospect of martial law and is on the brink of collapsing.

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It is hard to watch. I know the people ‘over there’.

They are more than a 1 minute news segment, they are very real people.

Continue reading

The first of so many “lasts” and my message to America

I still have some posts to make from my adventurous summer. But I don’t want to give the wrong impression a majority of Peace Corps. service- you simply stay at your site and do your job.

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And that’s what I’m doing now.

September 1st. historically marks the beginning of the school so even though it was Sunday – schools across Ukraine had their First Bell (aka “Day Of Knowledge”) ceremonies.

Since it had been rainy the last couple of days – my school moved the ceremony to our town’s palace of culture.

For me, it marked the beginning of so many ‘lasts.’ Continue reading

The world as I see it

To be honest, I have never really been one for adventure. I’m an introvert by nature who’d much rather sit at home and watch re-runs of The Office, and The Big Bang Theory with a bag of potato chips by myself.

But somehow in this crazy life adventure always seems to find me- whether I’m ready for it or not.

That’s the crazy thing about life~ you can make one ordinary decision and it changes everything…

That’s what led me here. To a country the rest of the world rarely thinks about… Albania.

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A country that my life was changed by… long before I ever set foot in it.

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There’s a phrase in the non-profit field called “compassion apathy” and I admit I suffered from that for a long time.

Sometimes you really do, need to be crazy in order to be hopeful in a suffering world. Continue reading

Moments In Ukraine- Camp MAKE

Some people have asked me for advice, on taking photographs. I’m not an expert at lighting or how to get the perfect angle by any means.

In fact, most of my favorite photos are extremely ill-lighted and topsy-turvy.

It took me a while to realize that it’s not really how the photo comes out that matters…

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It’s the memory behind it that does… Continue reading

Never Helpless

Whenever, I’m sad… or feeling gloomy about the state of the world. I always open up my iPhoto program and try to find some familiar faces- that somehow always make me smile :).IMG_2472

Like most Americans, my heart is broken by the news I heard from Connecticut. The distance between Ukraine and the USA doesn’t change that.  After all, America has always been a country that has stood together in tragedy.

Instead the distance only makes me feel helpless.

Helpless to help- a community going through some pretty unspeakable pain.

Helpless to help- parents that lost children during what should be the most wonderful time of the year.

Helpless to help- some pretty scared children, who are probably having nightmares at night.

But, you know what? I’m no longer hopeless about the state of our country… why? Continue reading

Senseless

Senseless. In every way… I’m half a world away. Absolutely numb. Frozen in my apartment as I hear about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School (and it’s not the cold Ukrainian winter that’s giving me this cold feeling in my gut).

Some days, it really would be better to be living in a remote African village then, to have access to the internet and running water… because, some days you just don’t want to hear the news from home.

26 dead. 20 of them children. Who wants to hear that right around the holidays? Holidays that loved ones will now, have to spend burying the ones they held most dear. Continue reading