The more time you put into Ukraine, the more flowers you will get. And not just flowers, but memories that will last a lifetime. Today was “Last Bell” at school- the very last day of the school year and as I looked out over the sea of children gathered in the traditional square block I was filled with emotions of joy, sadness (it was my last “Last Bell”), and pride for my students. I was recognized with the English teachers during the ceremony and many kids ran up to me and gave me flowers at this time- I felt so special. And I couldn’t help but think back to the year before when I only received a few flowers- I was new at school and not many of the students had worked with me yet. But this year after working at school for the full year, I was not just “the American,” but “Ms. Jeramie.” To me each flower was representative of something, a symbol of the time I have given. One was from Natasha who is going to camp with me this summer, one was from the 5th grade class who I enjoy teaching so much, and one was from one of my English teachers, Lyuda, who I work with on a daily basis. It was so nice of everyone to give me flowers, I felt so special.
After the ceremony the English teachers and I gathered in Violeta’s room for a mini celebration… of course. The school year was over! We had sandwhiches, fruits and vegetables and meat, which I shared some of my BBQ sauce for. They thought it was really spicy, but liked it! I also made some brownies for the teachers… got to share America with them somehow, and what better way then with brownies?
At 12:00 I left my English teachers to join other teachers from my school for a tour of Baturin. Baturin is a historical town dating back to the 1600s, about 30 minutes outside of Konotop. We got to go inside and see the museum, which was really beautiful, as well as the fortress that was also nearby. After the touring was over, we drove down a little ways to the river and had a picnic. For the 3rd toast I was asked to say something, and in English, because my teachers wanted to hear me speak in English. After my first line of, “First of all I would just like to say thank you for all that you have done for me, I am so blessed to work at your school,” and no one understanding, they asked me to switch to Russian ha. And it was pretty funny when I used the toast before mine, which ended in “budma oorahh, oorahh, oorahh,” to teach them the Texas variant, “cheers, yeeehawww, yeeehawww, yeeehawww!” I really love spending time with other teachers from my school because we have an opportunity to talk on a different level then just the “hellos” that are exchanged at school. It means a lot to me that so many people are interested in my country and how things are different there.
Saturday, two married teachers from Danny’s school invited us to the dacha of one of the students that they tutor. It was about a 20-minute ride outside of Konotop, and it was the most beautiful dacha I have ever seen. There was even a washing machine in the dacha! In the dacha! I couldn’t believe it. The owners of the dacha were both in business, so they were quite well off. The way the house was decorated kind of made me miss home a little- the owner was a big hunter so there were some dead animals hanging on the walls and a barn outside with his hunting dog and some horses. Who ever thought that some dead animals would make me miss home… dad what have you done to me?!? We spent the evening watching some people horse back ride, playing ping pong, eating freshly picked strawberries with cottage cheese, and singing songs on the guitar. It was such a relaxing evening; I was so glad that Danny and I were both invited to such a wonderful place.
Thursday, May 31, 2012 is a day that I will always remember. Halyna, Lena, Lyuda and I went to Kiev to buy our new English textbooks. Our first stop was the bank to get all of the money out- we were all so nervous having $5,000 on ourselves, so we took a taxi directly to the bookstore. There we were met by a methodologist who helped us choose which books would be best for our school, and we spent the next three hours discussing and deciding how many books of each to buy. My school ended up raising almost $1,000 as well because each student donated $2, so that really helped in allowing us to buy even more than what we had originally expected. It was a long day, but the joy on my teachers’ faces at the end was worth it. All of our books will be delivered this Friday, and I can’t wait to start using them this fall! I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who helped me complete this project. You have contributed to a cause that will impact our students’ lives for many years.