Well, I am pretty sure some of you thought this blog was defunct. But not yet!
9 months after my last blog post and all I can say is whew. So much has happened in the last nine months that to write about it all would be impossible but here is a quick list of the highlights.
Started teaching. Loved teaching. Met the handsome man I call my boyfriend. Met some great friends. Started Russian lessons with one of the best teachers I have ever encountered. Still loved teaching. Started to dislike teaching. Went back to liking teaching. Got a kidney infection. Was hospitalized at home (yea Ukrainian medicine!!). Cried a lot. Called my mom a lot. Got healthier (sort of). Kristen (Luther buddy) came and visited. Went home for Christmas. Saw a kidney doctor who finished off my infection with some good 'ol American antibiotics. Came back to Ukraine. Started to hate teaching again (it was January...nothing is good in January). February came. Started to like teaching again. March came. My birthday came. Went to Lviv for the first time. Came back to Kyiv and back to work. Planned a trip for my parents. Practiced being a tour guide with another Luther buddy Amelia. FAMILY CAME TO UKRAINE! Family left Ukraine. May ended. Summer came. School ended for kids here. English classes started to wrap up.
WHEW. And that is just the highlights. All of that plus my day to day has made it impossible for me to do the reflective thinking I did last year which help manufacture my blog posts. I will try to be better moving forward. But no promises. I think it is finally time to announce my next step.
At the end of July I will be leaving Ukraine and heading to Washington, DC.
This was one of the hardest decision I have ever had to make. My transitions have never been self inflicted, they have always been forced upon me. So in March when I started to consider what I wanted for the next year I was overwhelmed with options...all which seemed to have equal pros and cons.
My decision essentially came down to my need for something new. While I do generally like teaching, I am not sure that teaching classes in a private school is really my thing. I miss the freedom
of my Fulbright and I miss having more of a role in the decision making process when it comes to my students and my classroom. I have loved my year in Kyiv and I have learned a ton but I
want to try to do something new.
So what is 'something new'?! Well, in August, I will be moving to Washington, DC to start a 10-month contract with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I have been hired as an assistant teacher at Briya Public Charter School which provides Adult education for immigrants to the United States. I will be teaching a mixture of English classes, digital literacy and life skills. Basically using English teaching as a tool to help adult students as they adjust to their new life in the United States. I am really excited and really nervous. When it comes to LVC one of the biggest challenges is living on their monthly stipend of $250. So that should be interesting. But I am excited for the challenge, excited for the change, and excited to be in DC.
I will also be applying to graduate school in Public Policy and MAYBE Education. I haven't decided yet but second language acquisition and education systems in general have fasciated me the entire time in Ukraine so I am considering a dual program. Being back in the States will make this process easier (both the application and final decision making process) .
I think leaving Ukraine is going to be heartbreaking and I am already preparing myself for that pain. Ukraine hasn't just been a place I have lived for two years. This place has presented me the greatest challenges and in return the greatest joys I have experienced. Living in a foreign country, especially a country like Ukraine presents a daily intellectual challenge that has forced me to grow. Who I am today is completely different from who I was when I arrived in Ukraine.
I am scared about coming back to the States and sinking into the easiness of living in America. The easiness of living in a country where you speak the same language as the people you meet on the street, the easiness of living in a city where Amazon has 2-hour shipping, the easiness of living in a place where I can go home when I want (kind of). The challenges I experience in Ukraine everyday have come to define a big part of who I am. And I am scared when I wonder who I will be when I come back to the States.
What about my boyfriend?! Dima has been my rock this year. And when I think about the year...the good and the bad I can't imagine how different it would've been without him. We are working on plans for our future but nothing has materialized...as of yet. As you can guess, getting to the United States isn't that easy nowadays. For us to even try to get his a visa to VISIT me and my family in the United States is improbable if not impossible. Even as an educated electrical engineer with an array of experiences, our hopes of him obtaining a work visa at this time are nonexistent. This is the reality of America today and we are going to take it.
All of this is producing bouts of anxiety and excitement and sadness and back to anxiety. I am not one who takes changes lightly. They weigh on me heavily until the change happens. I keep repeating my Russian teacher to myself and others she always reminds me...шак за шагом or step by step in Russian. I am trying to take each day as it is, feel the emotions of each day as they are and not let my worry for tomorrow ruin today. Шак за шагом.
This is the end of the CliffNotes of my last 9 months. As summer sets in, I find more time to purposefully sit back and reflect. Especially as my departure from this beautiful place looms. I hope to spit out some posts about my trips to Lviv and my Kyiv tours as well as how I entertained my family for two weeks while they were in Ukraine. Until then thank you for reading. Thank you for your good vibes and all of your support in over the last two years.