Friday, May 14, 2004

End of Training

This is the beginning of my last week in B. Hard to believe I have been here 3 months. On Monday I will be tested in Russian and even though I'm told it won't go on my permanent record, I am a tad nervous. I can get by in a pinch. I know to modify my Coca cola when I ask for it in a store. And I'm familiar
with the difference between saying that I walked. I began walking, I
was walking, I finished walking, I am walking, I will be walking, I
will begin walking and I will finish walking. Each of those requires a
different modification of the same verb. And of course if I go
somewhere by vehicle instead of by foot, it is entirely different verb. I am
convinced this all comes out of the Soviet system that kept track of
your every, single move. Even what stage of walking you did yesterday,
will do today or in the future. Its all very helpful for the proper operation of a police state you know.

So I am reviewing and hope to do
OK. Wish me luck.

We had terrible news on Wed. night. N, my host mother, had a brother die. He was Babushka's son. It is always awkward when a friend loses a loved one, but to be living with people, not be familiar with the customs and not confident to speak in a delicate situation, it is even more so. I tried to be
supportive and went to a friend for advice on what is commonly done.
So I brought 4 flowers (have I mentioned that in Ukraine you only give
odd number of flowers for a happy occasion? Even numbered ones are
reserved for tragedies.) and gave my host mother some money. I was a
little uneasy about handing her money but it is the custom and does
make sense. It is probably the one thing they need most, besides
emotional support, at a time like this.

So my last week will be somber around the house. Our goodbye shashlik has been canceled and I don't know if N will attend my PC induction ceremony. It is customary to mourn for 40 days. I hope that she does. After this long I would be very disappointed if she couldn't.

But I'm not complaining. Things like this help you get your perspective back.

OK, enough of the somber stuff.

Today we executed our group community project. We donated supplies to
the local hospital for the children's section. They don't have
supplies like diapers and sheets etc. We were allowed $100 for any
project and so we went shopping. We got baby bottles, diapers, toys
and some dishes. We invited the local press and they will run a story
next week. We wrote the story and emphasized the need for others to
donate as well. The hope is that it will bring attention to the
problem. Everybody felt great about it and we got a lot of kudos from
the staff after it was over.

It was a good day.

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