By the end of this week or by the time you're reading this, I will be swore in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer and, swiftly after, be moved to my new home. Since leaving Kentucky about 3 months ago, I have practically transformed into a brand new version of Cassie.
Living, studying, and working in Burty, Ukraine the past 10 weeks has allowed me to experience aspects of existence that I, otherwise, would have never experienced. Now, I am confident that I have the ability to teach an English lesson with out a chalkboard but using a painted piece of plywood. Now, I am comfortable with de-feathering a chicken during my coffee break from Ukrainian class. (I only have one hand available due to holding my coffee mug but still, I got it done.) Hauling well water is no thing. Piecing together a conversation of English, Russian, and Ukrainian is vastly easy from a few weeks ago. My body and hair have adapted to bathing once a week or maybe a few more days than that. My 'shock sensors' have adapted greatly. I'm not sure I can even begin to put in words how much doesn't surprise me anymore. "Well, okay. That's interesting." is a typically, routine response from any of the 5 Americans living in Burty to what we witness at home, walking around, traveling the country, etc. I mean that in the most positive way possible. I am confident that I am vastly stronger, more able, more intelligent, and more prepared for a permanent life in Ukraine than I ever imagined I could be.
In a few days, I will be moving to my permanent placement in Ukraine. I will be living in Syhnayivka, Ukraine and teaching English to 5th - 11th grades at the Syhnayivka Educational Complex. If you notice, the school is named the same thing as the town. Just like Burty, there is one school for the entire town. I am going to another tiny, tiny town surrounded by gorgeous Ukrainian countryside. Although, I am hesitant about my new home and my landlady and all things new, I am confident I will love my school. I've heard my school is very small, have a kindergarten attached and those little ones live there during the school week, the director or principal is fluent in English. My counterpart or helper/guide/instant friend in Syhnayivka is also teacher at the school. I just met Kateryna or Kati earlier this evening and she is precious. (I will write more about her later.) The village and school know that I am a photojournalist and intrigued by that. Like most Ukrainians, they are intrigued by someone making photography their entire career. It's quite a rarity in these parts.
I will have running water and hot shower in my house with an outhouse attached. I will be living in a house with a babya or Ukrainian grandmother as her tenant. Perk 1: I will survive the winter. Perk 2: I will instantly be integrated into my community by knowing her and being a part of her circle of friends Perk 3: I will a little company during the Ukrainian winter days of 14+ hours of darkness. Perk 4: I hope she will be able to teach me how to croquet. I already perfected my knitting skills and made myself a hat with a matching scarf on the way. I am hesitate about space, privacy, and communication but I hope those factors will improve with time. I will be a 30 minute bus ride from a city, Cherkassy, of a half million that will have my bank, big stores, and a few other Volunteers. Jason and Rachel will live in Cherkassy and have already extended an open invitation to their place. My clustermates - Caitlin, Anna, Sam and Drew - will all be only a few hours away by bus. All in all, I will be just fine.
To finish this off quick, I will leave a few general photos of Burty and the 5 Americans within it. I will, hopefully, have much better access to Internet in Syhnayivka and be able to post follow up entries soon.