Highlights of the Week

Teaching

  • Feeling like a mother hen as I lead my 2nd-formers up two flights of stairs from their classroom to mine – “come along, little chickies!”
  • Having one of my 3rd-formers – Ira – see me in the hall, put her hand on my arm and say, “Добрий день, Ms. Tammela.”
  • Spending an entire class having an interesting discussion about love with my 11th-formers (the lesson in their textbook was about Valentine’s Day). A couple of the girls were surprised I don’t have a boyfriend. (Ha.)

Miscellaneous

  • Got a free ticket from my school to a concert of Богдана Сташківа, “народна артиста України” (Bohdana Stashkiva, “people’s artist of Ukraine”) – there were a few opening acts with decent voices, and Bohdana himself had a good voice too, though he loves to belt big notes whenever possible. The performances were complete with ever-shifting red and green laser light patterns in the background to match the electronic beats of every song. Not bad for a free ticket.
  • At the Saturday bazaar, the woman I was buying apples from recognized my foreign accent and asked, “Are you Ms. Tammela?” “Yes,” I responded. She told me her granddaughter is in my 3б class and proceeded to recommend sweeter apples than the ones I picked initially, and then gave the kilo to me for a discount price of 10,00 UAH instead of 12,00. I’ll be buying all my apples there from now on!
  • Our school was blessed by an Orthodox priest on Friday. He went to each classroom, said a few words about the new year, sprayed holy water on everything/one, and had the teachers kiss his cross. A male choir sang in the hallway.

This is not a highlight, but many of you may have heard about the death of Sargent Shriver this past week, at age 95. He is seen as the founding father of the Peace Corps, the one who carried out the call to service uttered by JFK, Jr. at a 1960 speech at the University of Michigan. Shriver was the Peace Corps’ first director (1961-66) and after his tenure went on to work in many other areas of humanitarian aid for our country and our world. The Peace Corps’ tribute to Shriver can be found here. Below are a few quotes that strike a chord with me as I spend two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer — words we can all live by:

  • “Shatter the glass. In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. Learn more about the face of your neighbor and less about your own.” -Sargent Shriver
  • “Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.” -Sargent Shriver
  • And one from JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Lastly, below are some pictures from the Old New Year celebrations in my town — the three-weeks of Ukrainian winter holidays have finally ended (I think)! (Click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

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6 thoughts on “Highlights of the Week

  1. Mary Van Nortwick says:

    Tammela,
    It’s been really interesting for me to read your various blog entries. Some of the holiday ceremonies, especially those around Did Moroz and the New Year’s tree, are Russian imports that came to western Ukraine when the Soviets took over that part of the country after World War Two. It was part of their effort to eradicate the religious aspects of the winter holidays just as they had already done in Russia and eastern Ukraine. After a few generations, of course, they’ve become part of the fabric of life there, I’m sure. They are never part of holiday celebrations among Ukrainian immigrants to Canada and the U.S. The caroling is something I remember vividly — groups would go from house to house throughout the city in which I grew up (Hamilton, Ontario), greeted at each one with refreshments. The priests would also come to one’s home in the (old) new year to bless it, just as they did your school.

    • taplatt says:

      It is interesting, Mary, that these a-religious traditions have stuck around. You could say the same for Santa Claus in the US (though I don’t know his origins).

  2. Nancy Richie says:

    Enjoyed your week of highlights, Miss Tammela! Especially the grandmother who sold you apples and discussing LOVE! You are definitely part of the community!!! I love you, Nancy

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