We are officially at the three week mark today, which absolutely blows my mind considering I feel like I’ve seen 3 months worth of new & extremely different things & been separated from everyone for 3 years (OK maybe a slight exaggeration, but still). The highlight of my 21 days however, happened last Saturday night. Not a short story, but quite possibly life-changing.
We took the train from Baryshivka & I made it home in time for our family dinner where we celebrated Yanna (my ‘sister’) getting her 1st passport. At the table she mentioned that she was continuing the celebration at the local discotheque later & asked if I wanted to go. I tried to say that I didn’t think I was allowed to but they either know something I don’t (generally always the case) or didn’t care, because 10 minutes later I was getting a full out Ukrainian makeover by my 16 year old sister complete with blue eyelids & hair curled with rollers soaking in boiling water. The fresh-faced look isn’t really in here but makeup has been the last thing on my mind so I’ve been going au natural & the family flipped out when they saw the finished product. She did a great job, but when all was said & done…let’s just say it took about 10 minutes to wash my face off at the end of the night. They continued to pimp me out with my ‘Mom”s red leather coat & a tres European scarf. Plus brown leather high heel boots. Got a good visual? Obviously a lot of activity for all 6 feet of me.
So we departed around 9:30 & met up with her 19-year old neighbor who claimed to know only a little English but made up for what he lacked in sheer volume. By the time we got out of our taxi (an unmarked car that picked us up on the corner that I thought was an aquaintence the whole time) he had managed to shout that I was an ‘amazing’ and ‘shiny’ girl. I’m still not really sure how ‘shiny’ could be a compliment but he seemed to think he was waxing pure poetry so I’ll chalk it up to yet another cultural miscommunication. We were let out at a store (very broadly comparable to a 7-11) where I explained that I didn’t want to drink so instead I was handed a Capri Sun. Ballin. We stood outside & I sipped on my little yellow straw & then followed them to the village’s community center/library combo. After about 10 minutes a 50ish year old woman unlocked the door (after our neighbor friend yelled ‘I love this grandmother’ and bear-hugged the stranger) & led us into a room that looked like it was intended for church potluck dinners. And then the music started…
There really aren’t words to adaquately describe the night from this point on. The lights changed into an epilleptic’s nightmare, some sort of cross between black lights & strobe lights, & oh…my…gosh, the dancing. Yanna is awesome & looked exactly like one of the silouhettes in an ipod commercial. Everyone else…I honestly can’t do it justice. Pretty much anything you could imagine was there. Some people looked exactly like Sims characters gyrating with the hands above their heads, some people looked like they had spent months trying to think up the weirdest moves possible & some people looked just plain dangerous. No one danced together which was kind of a welcome respite from the grinding in America, but everyone danced and everyone danced hard. It was so much fun. I was too busy laughing my head off to get overly creative but my token ‘techno’ move was not only appropriate but mild if that’s any indication of what went down. I’m really frustrated by my lack of ability to adaquately illustrate, so next time I’ll try to rock a video camera to facilitate some overseas education. It was probably good that I didn’t go all out though because it turned out that a few of the kids I people I met there are students at my school. Definite potential for awkwardness there.
Speaking of students, we started teaching this week 🙂 My friend Thomas & I taught a 7th grade class yesterday about food adjectives (sour, sweet, ect.) & I loved it. Even with my mom as a super-star teacher expample I never realized just how much detail goes into lesson planning, especially considering the resources are nonexistent or incomprehensible (i.e. the back of wallpaper instead of butcher paper, no tape & grammatically incoherent textbooks). Translating & explaining the directions for our activities was the hardest part given their limited English familiarity, but the kids are extremely receptive, adorable & remarkably nice for 13 year olds. We’ll be teaching two lessons a week now in all of the different grades & I’m really looking forward to it.
Other than that everything is business as usual. Language class is still kicking our collective butt, but the people in our community are warming up to us more & more each day & my host family is still more than I could ever have asked for. Really sweet & really protective. Even the 13 year old, Snijanna, scolds me when I try to clean my own plate & I’m writing this while wearing pink thermal socks & flats (what would Stacy & Clinton say) because the ‘they just don’t go’ argument holds absolutely no ground here. I did however, have a small victory this week when I managed to explain that I’d like to know how to draw a bath myself (when I tried previously I think they thought I was asking how to bathe…yikes). So baby steps, but I’m on my way to being able to effectively communicate. Kind of. Maybe. Oh well. Miss you!