Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our Golden Hour of Independence

As I write these lines, I have only 2 more days of summer before returning to school. What am I doing? Sitting at home, finishing paperwork, preparing lesson plans, sleeping late, wearing comfy cotton, and deeply breathing in freedom until I must put on panty hose and introduce myself to 400 new students. It's not all bad. I am starting at a new school with new students and co-workers. I am eager to get settled in a routine filled with lessons, projects, and PC events. Summer was busy with moving and traveling and Autumn will be more packed with seminars, events, meetings, and school activities. 

This past weekend, Ukraine celebrated its 21st birthday! My country is getting all grown up. Several PCVs in my region (a few oblasts put together) meet up at Drew's place for the celebration. With our mattresses and sleeping bags we turned his apartment into an indoor camp site. It was a welcomed refreshment to see so many friends in one place together. Most of these people I haven't seen all summer or were meeting for the first time. I realized, during this past year, that I can't go more than a month without physically spending time with my american friends so Independence weekend helped stabilize me and peel the stress away. Lack of chairs and eating utensils forced us to get creative during dinner time. We scrubbed out sauce jars and coffee cans to create extra glasses and ate massive mounds of pasta out of a communion pot. If anyone doubted that PCVs are family, those doubts were erased after this weekend. 

Drew has started a band at his school with three of his older students. 'Radio Silence' performed at the end of the Independence Day ceremony in the center of town. Every town, typically, has a concert and fireworks on this holiday and Kryzgopil was no exception. We were entertained by singing children, teenagers, and older men. Girls competed to see who had prettier, longer hair and three men competed to see who could lift a 16kg ball over their heads more times. Jay Bags, a PCV, lifted his weight 40 times and was rewarded with a 5kg bag of flour to bake with this winter. The town was roaring as 'one of their Americans' showed off his strength versus hardened farmers and military men. 

Radio Silence, finally, took the stage as the fireworks began. Being from Louisville, I have witnessed Thunder over Louisville (part of the Kentucky Derby celebration) most every year so fireworks amuse me but I always think, 'I've seen better'. Well, I've never seen any better in such a small area. Kryzgopil went all out in piazza. Our ears were less ringing after the fireworks show. The ringing continued as Radio Silence rocked. A few city blocks became a disco filled with dancers of all generations. Several of their songs were in Ukrainian but several more were American hits like Bon Jovi and Band of Horses. Streets echoed and teenagers screamed well past midnight. 

The weekend was perfect. A perfect way to end a fabulous summer. Typically the most beautiful part of a sunset is right at the end - the Golden Hour. Independence weekend was our Golden Hour. The Golder Hour of our summer. It was tough to wave good-bye to all my friends as we got on different buses to go home, stop roaming, stop dancing, settle in, and be teachers again. Teachers do mourn summer's finale. At least, this teacher does. 

Get pumped for concert practice. 

Patrick and Jay Bags. Sitemates. Brothers. 

Meredith starting up a salsa. 

Dinner time! 

Radio Silence and their international following.
Patrick refuses to be involved. 

Patrick's 'going out' hair. 

Artom and his family. 

Happy Birthday Ukraine! 

The guitars of Radio Silence. 

Drew on the Drums.



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