I have no excuse for my absence. I have a computer, which I only broke a few days ago. But it’s working again, so that fails to be the reason I don’t write. I have lots of interesting stories. But they all seem too personal for a website, too difficult to explain to someone who does not walk in my shoes each day, and too bland when described in a language I am forgetting how to use properly.
I spent the Orthodox Easter break in Chernigov. It was amazing how returning to the city where I first experienced Ukrainian life could feel so much like home. My host family welcomed me with more food than I could ever consume, and we reflected upon all of the things that had changed or stayed the same since I’d arrived a year ago. One of the differences is how my host mother and I rarely communicate in English anymore. I spent hours in the kitchen and garden with her, talking about life while we cooked or planted vegetables. They have more Peace Corps trainees staying in their home, but this time an older couple trying out PC post-retirement. They are an awesome couple and I am excited to see where they will be placed in the next couple of months.
Returning back to site was difficult. The long holiday and being gone for trainings had put weeks between my last meeting with my colleagues. I have a lot on my plate for the next few months and being back to site meant getting some quality work done. I had this feeling lately, that although things are increasingly easier to accomplish here, and I feel more comfortable overall, somehow I am wearing out my welcome. The novelty of who I am and where I come from has worn off. I am always asking for favors or help, my energy is lacking, and the weight I am carrying on my shoulders is becoming a bit overbearing. So imagine my surprise when I saw my counterpart the other day and she asked me to be in her wedding. We’ve never been incredibly close, but she needed someone to stand up for her and she asked me because she thought I might enjoy the opportunity to participate. I almost cried. I’m not sure she understands what it means to me, and I’m a bit nervous about fulfilling all the necessary traditions, but I will learn!
Projects here are going well. Our trainers are teaching HIV/AIDS education in schools and I am compiling surveys to see if the students learned anything. We are just about to start out adoptive family project to encourage foster and adoptive families in our town. All of these ideas came from my director, not me, but I enjoy being part of the process. Someday soon I would really like to sit down with her and have a conversation about why I am really here: non-profit development. So far, all of these projects are “organized and executed” by a non-profit, but in actuality it is done by the social services division of the local administration. I’ve spent the first year here understanding this, evaluating it, and trying to see how to develop a self-sustaining NGO when a nagging voice in the back of my head keeps saying “if it ain’t broke…” But I know it could be better.
Planning our camp this summer has been a challenge. We have a campsite, we are rounding up campers, but there are no fewer than a million details to work out over the next two months. It’s a great experience; this kind of logistical planning is not something I have done before. But it keeps me up at night, as I lay awake and think of all the things we have yet to arrange and how despite the camp being three months away, that time is quickly running out. Much like a paper one just can’t seem to sit down to write, I know everything will work out and it will be great, but it’s a matter of getting there.
The weather has been ideal. It’s cloudy today and there is a shade of gray that surely means rain, but for the past week it has been nothing short of perfect. People say we are going to have a brutally hot summer, which pains me, but perhaps I will miss out on the worst going home in July for my brother’s wedding. While there I will get to meet my newest nephew, Gavin, born only 5 days ago. It’s difficult to remember that people at home are changing and growing while I am so far away. It escapes me that just because I am not there to witness it, amazing things are happening at home!
I appreciate you reading my blog even though I have been so terrible at writing. As I promise every entry, I will try and be better! For now I will keep moving along, enjoying spring and wondering where all the time is flying.