The Real Winners and Losers

It is said the Olympics are about international ‘unity’ and a celebration of the best and brightest athletes… not about the medal count.

However around this time, I get strangely patriotic. I enjoy seeing my fellow Americans – many of whom have dedicated their entire lives to their sport… win.

I enjoy seeing that America can excel in so many events.

On so many levels.

I enjoy seeing that despite our economic recession and the fact that many argue that the American dream is slowly dying…

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That young American snowboarders, skiers, and skaters can show us that if you work hard… you can still succeed.

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… that no dream is too big or too impossible.

To see the pure joy on the faces of so many deserving American athletes ignites a sense of hope.

But yesterday, I was kind of happy we lost

I know the Women’s Biathlon Relay doesn’t get as much attention as skating and it isn’t as exciting as the snowboarding events.

However watching the Women’s 4x6k Biathlon Relay, I was so happy, and moved…

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I cried.

What happened in the Women’s 4x6k Biathlon Relay was as moving, as watching the US ‘Miracle‘ game against Russia in 1980, or when the ‘Magnificent Seven‘ won in the gymnastics team event in 1996…

Because you could tell that win was about more than a medal… Continue reading

The Real faces of EuroMaidan

This video:

 

This is the Ukraine I know.

These are the Ukrainians- who invited me to their kitchen tables, taught me how to make Borscht, found my American accent charming (rather than annoying), and made sure that I never forgot to wear a hat during the winter…

These are the real faces of EuroMaidan and their hopeful faces, will change Ukraine – forever.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

-Margaret Mead

Cлава Україні! (Glory To Ukraine)

Stay strong Ukraine.

We are with you.

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 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

Love In The Mail

So March has been a pretty stressful month- I’m in the process of re-registaring which involves a lot of paperwork in a foreign language… Thankfully my counterpart has been awesome and doing a lot of additional work on my behalf- without complaint.

Have I mentioned how awesome my co-workers are?

Besides, that I’ve trying desperately to fundraise money for Camp MAKE.

Why?

Because, we are all born to make a difference and the kids of Ukraine deserve to know that.

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Thankfully it seems mail always comes to Ukraine when I need it the most to cheer me up… and I have gotten some pretty wonderful things in the mail recently. 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

I Always Thought We Were Irish With A Weird Last Name…

The title of this post is sort of a running joke in my family… I really had no idea that we were Polish until our family had one weird conversation in our car, while we were discussing a school project I needed to do about my family’s ancestry

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I’ve always had an unusual last name by American standards. Definitely not O’Donnell or Sullivan.

My Dad: Kim what did you think we were?

Me: I just always thought we were Irish with a weird last name…

My grandmother ‘Busia’ always held a special place in her heart for Poland and the Poles. The town our ancestors came from is not far from Krakow. So when we had the opportunity to visit Poland. We made sure to visit Krakow. 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

Lessons Learned & Winter Wonderland Fun

And yes I got some great photos of the winter wonderland fun!

The first snow of the year was today and yes I got some great photos of the winter wonderland fun!

The 44th group of volunteers to work in Ukraine were sworn in a few days ago(And yay! Another volunteer will also be working in my town). The whole thing seems a little surreal- I’m from the 42nd group of volunteers to work in Ukraine. Continue reading