October 10, 2017

Now that summer has officially ended (the first day of Fall was last month), I am very excited to share my summer adventures with everyone!

My summer began with a two-day celebration! The first event honored the teachers.  We got flowers from our students, awards from our school directors, and had a special lunch.  Since there were no more classes to teach, we were able to relax and enjoy our free time together.  We talked (without students being present), ate, drank, and played games!  The next day, we celebrated through a holiday called “Last Bell”.  In my village, we celebrated the end of the school year and the beginning of summer during the ceremony.  We also recognized our graduating class of 11th formers (yes, they really do graduate a year earlier than American students…and no I don’t think it’s fair that we have more schooling than they do).  I truly appreciated all the love and attention I got during those two days.

I did not have to wait very long to see some of my students and teachers again.  A few weeks later, we held two English Summer Camps.  The first camp was for the 1st and 2nd formers, and the second camp was for the 3rd through 5th formers.  Thinking about what the children would normally be doing during the summer, we planned to incorporate these activities into our lesson plans.  Some activities included: playing Red Rover outside, Piggy-in-the-Middle with vocabulary words, and relay races.  Other activities that were equality as fun, but did have the same vigorous active component included: Pop for Sight Words, Twister with vocabulary words, and cards.


The reasoning behind our Summer Camps

During the end of last school year, the English teachers at the Opishnya Specialized school held a meeting to discuss various topics.  One topic that was particularly interesting involved information retention.  It’s fairly common knowledge that students forget a lot of the information learned in school, during their summer vacation.  Students are spending time during the summer months outside, playing games with friends, traveling with their families, and spending time by the river.  They are not thinking about school (unless it’s to think about how many more days of summer they have left) and often forget what they learned during the previous school year.  My fellow English teachers and I did not want this to happen to the students at our school.  We decided to hold English camps during the summer to help alleviate the situation.


After the camps ended, I was able to relax and enjoy my summer.  My 25th birthday was the next event.  At first, I was actually sad about my birthday and did not want to do anything big (it was my first birthday that I would be spending without my family).  My Ukrainian family decided that they wanted to cheer me up though and help me celebrate my birthday.  I ended up have a joint birthday party (my “Ukrainian brother” was also born on July 7th, but a few years after me).  All the people who had made an impact on my life while I have lived in Opishnya came to the event (i.e. friends, family, and even some of my students).  The celebrations continued the next day, when I got wonderful surprise: a visit from a few of the teachers from school!  They brought cake, ice cream, flowers, and a few small gifts.  I am so happy that my birthday (which had the potential to do dreadful), turned out to be so much fun!  It is definitely a birthday that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.

My next adventure involved meeting a new family!  I was randomly told that there was a family in the nearby city of Zinkiv and they wanted me to come for a visit.  I have always enjoyed meeting new Ukrainian families in the past and couldn’t wait to tell them yes.  Within a week, I was on my way to Zinkiv.  My first visit was just for the weekend and I found myself back on a bus to Zinkiv a week later.  My second visit ended up lasting me a month and I enjoyed every minute of it!  Besides spending time with each other at the house, we enjoyed swimming in the river and attending a summer camp at Коттедж-парк Славна (Cottage-Park “Salvna”).  That summer camp might have been my favorite part of my visit.  There were multiple classes that we all got to attend (both children and adults) including: cooking classes, swimming lessons, acting classes, English lessons, and dance classes.  When we weren’t in a class, we got to enjoy the river and petting zoo.

After coming back home to Opishnya, I relaxed and spent some time by myself (before I had to go back to school).  I enjoyed cooking a few new Ukrainian recipes that Allah taught me in Zinkiv, finishing up two paintings that I forgot about, taking walks around the village, and spending a few afternoon with the children who live nearby.

My first summer in Ukraine came to an end, in almost the same way as it began…a holiday celebration!  This time, the celebration was called “First Bell”.  During “First Bell”, we got to meet the new 1st formers for the first time!  It was very exciting to welcome our new students and their parents to school.


P.S. Make sure you stay tuned for my next blog post! It’ll be about my first month of school.





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