Sunday, January 29, 2012

Firsts, Seconds, and Thirds

This week has included lots of firsts, seconds, and thirds for me. It was my second week of teaching but first week of full work load. I held my first english and photo clubs. The english club for younger grades was attended by three excited students. We played games and learned simple songs. I wasn't quite sure if they had fun or not or if they learned anything or not. But since Monday afternoon, all three students have been answers far more questions correctly in class. Wednesday afternoon was the first english club for older students and I had to lock up rooms to find enough chairs for everyone. We went through our first session of slang. Since then, I have heard a lot of "What's up Ms. Cassie?" and "Class today was real tight." When the other English teacher looked at me with wide eyes, I just laugh and promise her it will be okay. I couldn't be more proud. Thursday afternoon, my classroom filled with eager, young photographers with point and shoots or cell phones cameras. We looked at photos from all over the world thanks to many of my talented photo friends who let me browse and grab from their blogs or websites. I was able to translate most of what I needed to saw but the visuals sealed their understanding. Just one the reasons I adore photography. It's universal. Everyone gets it. Everyone can appreciate a gorgeous frame with faces or colors or patten or astounding light. My photo club was given their first shooting assignment: Color. I eagerly await viewing what they discover to photograph. 

I saw my host sister for the second time this weekend. She came home from Odessa on a spur of the moment trip. Last time we saw each other, I was brand new in town. I invited her over for dinner and in attempt to use her English skills she came. I don't think she thought I would soon after move into her old room and become a permanent fixture in her family. Vika is just as amazing as her mother, father, and grandmother. I adore them all. They help me learn Ukrainian, give me plenty of space yet include me in most everything, and brag all around town. Vika and I talk often, almost every night when she calls home. We started planning a spring trip to Turkey during our first conversation and I can easily imagine her visiting Colt Drive. She will fit in with my family like I have in hers. Yesterday, Vika said, "Cassie, I need to tell you something. I need to tell you that you have made a dream come true. When I was smaller I wished for an older brother or sister but then when I get old I wished for someone younger to stay at home with my family when I moved away. You have done this for me. You are both things I dreamed of." I am not worthy of such praise. When she said this, we were walking to Kati's house in the dark so Vika couldn't see whatever emotions flashed across my face. I promised her that I would look after her family and be the best older sister I can. I don't have any experience being an elder sibling but, then again, I don't have a lot of experience doing most things I do in Ukraine! 

This week Ukraine reached the lowest temperatures yet. Every morning, Baba Nina reminds me just how cold it is. If that brazen woman thinks it's cold, you can imagine how it felt to me! Vika and I went sledding with our cousins and several of my students wearing three! layers of everything, socks, pants, shirts, you get the picture. Skating down the street, sledding, and climbing up the track many times underneath such weight, I felt like I might have sweated off dinner. It was a good trade off of not being able to put my arms down to my sides or pick up small items with less than four fingers. 

Here a few frames from Week 2: 

My first week's frame of the field.

After a few conversations with other photo minds, I am starting a project. During my placement interview, I told the PC I wanted to live somewhere I could watch the seasons change. Photograph the seasons. So, I am going to photograph this field, my favorite spot during my walk to school every week for the next 26 months. We'll see what comes from those frames. 

The barn after a fresh snow. 

Sunset sledding with several of my students and Ukrainian relatives.

Making snow angels with Vika. There isn't any snow in Odessa so within 20 minutes of her arrival home, she and I bundled up with three layers of everything and headed outside.
I felt like a mixture of Santa and the Michelin man in my blue snow suit and red fur coat and, yes, a large black leather belt. My host family has promised me I am fully Ukrainian now.

Vika had never made a snow angel in her 21 years before yesterday.
I was honored to give her some coaching tips! 

My host family just finished remodeling their living room. The youngest cousin in our family, Misha, decided he wanted to help to. He began 'painting' Uncle Tolrick's feet since Uncle Tolrick had painted lots of other things. 

My Ukrainian Family.
Papa Tolrick, Vika, Mama Halya, Myself, and Baba Nina.

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