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 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

Is it worth it?

Throughout my service I ask myself one important question- “Is it worth it?”

Introducing... PINK TEAM.

Introducing… PINK TEAM.

Is my time and energy- worth investing in a particular project or ideal? All PCVs encounter that question (during their highs and lows of service- some of us dare to ask that question to ourselves daily).

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Throughout the summer, Ukraine Peace Corps. volunteers dedicate their time and their effort to make wonderful English camps available to young Ukrainians throughout Ukraine.

Its a lot of hard work.

Introducing... the yellow team "Ninja Lemons"

Introducing… the yellow team “Ninja Lemons”

And it takes months of preparation.

But is it worth it?

Costume Challenge: "Spirit Animal Day"  (this kid went on to win the "King of Camp" award)

Costume Challenge: “Spirit Animal Day”
(this kid went on to win the “King of Camp” award)

As a Peace Corps. volunteer I can tell you these kids,  made the time and preparation involved in Camp MAKE- worth it.

There are few times during my service where I have actually felt like something I have been involved in… has made a lasting difference.

But Camp MAKE allowed me to work with some very smart, articulate, and eager young Ukrainians and passionate Ukrainian counselors.

At times camp was crazy.

"Day Of The Dead" morning costume challenge

“Day Of The Dead” morning costume challenge

Continue reading

Summer Sunshine- photo SPAM

Hey everyone! Sorry guys like most Peace Corps. volunteers towards the end of service my blog has slowly been dying… 😦

Things have been super busy in a normal-crazy kind of way.
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What does that mean?

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I don’t have any thing extra-ordinary to report. Mainly for the last couple of months. I’ve simply been doing my job. Teaching my fourth forms the proper use of prepositions with a game involving four-leaf clovers. 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