What a crazy week. It all started with me ordering a coffee from Starbucks at the Spokane airport and ended with me living with a babushka in a village – and a million things in between. I flew out Saturday morning from Spokane and arrived in DC that night and luckily only lost one of my bags on the way. The bag was found but it will be a couple of weeks until it gets to me. I had a great time in DC and met so many amazing people. We had a couple of sessions about the logistics of the Peace Corps and their expectations.
We departed from DC Tuesday morning and flew to Frankfurt. The flight wasn’t too bad but sitting on a plane for six hours can be quite torturing. During our layover in Frankfurt, I decided to be brave and test out my Ukrainian knowledge. I sat near two ladies speaking Ukrainian and I decided to interrupt them and ask where they were from. We started talking about our lives and had a great time chatting. Their names were Oksana and Tonya. Oksana is a student who lives in Spain and Tonya was in Detroit visiting her children and grandchildren. They were very lovely ladies and I really enjoyed talking with them. The flight from Frankfurt was quite enjoyable because I got to sit next to Tonya and we had a great time talking about our lives. She was flying back home to Ternopil after visiting her family. Ternopil is the city where my grandpa is from so we had a lot to talk about. We landed in Kiev around noon and I finally felt like I was home. All of the good memories I had about Ukraine rushed back to me, and all was great besides the lack of sleep for the past 25 hours. I talked to Oksana at the baggage claim again and swapped contact information. We Americans got on the buses and headed to Chernihiv.
We arrived in Chernihiv and the intense retreat began an hour later. We had a lot of sessions from Wednesday to Saturday that included learning about the Peace Corps and starting our new projects. We also had language lessons. It was a great time to get to know everyone better.
On Friday I decided to walk to the center where I worked last year. It was great seeing all of my old coworkers and the children there. Unfortunately the director was not there and so I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. It was still really nice to see everyone. The first thing that they all said was that I lost weight and that I probably don’t get fed well in America. They also said I grew up a little bit more.
It was my birthday on Saturday and it was a great day. I got to skip lunch and go out with one of my best friends from Chernihiv. The Peace Corps workers told me that they wouldn’t have let me go, but since it was my birthday, they made an exception. It was really nice talking to Yarik and we only spoke in Ukrainian, which was strange for him because when I left Ukraine last year, we only spoke in Russian.
After lunch with Yarik, I had to rush back to the hotel to gather up all of my stuff to head off to the village where I am living for three months. We all got on the buses and headed out. I live in the village of Kolychivka. It is a small village right on the outside of Chernihiv. I live alone with a babusya (grandma). Her name is Lubov Ivanivna. She is a very lovely lady and I have really enjoyed my stay with her. She has opened up to me about her life in the village and her work. She works in Chernihiv one day a week working as a caretaker for elderly people. She makes excellent food and I am sure that I am going to be ten pounds heavier after pre-service training. She really cares for me and always wants to be sure that I am not hungry.
It really has been a great first week and we have been bombarded with so much information. I really am enjoying myself and the people I have met have been really great. I am really looking forward to the weeks ahead.