Though I would’ve loved to stay at home last weekend after spring break, it so happened that I had to go to Kyiv for the Healthy Lifestyles Working Group (HLWG) meeting. The HLWG is one of many working groups within PC/Ukraine. Working groups are support groups and resources for helping PCVs survive in-country and reach out to Ukrainians. I knew I wanted to apply to HLWG and was lucky enough to be invited to be a member! So off I went on the Thursday night train with Rachel, a Group 38 PCV also in the group. We had a very hot but otherwise uneventful “platzcart” (2nd/3rd class equivalent; beds, but no separate cabins/rooms) ride.
After spending Friday with my host family in the village – see this post – I crashed at a hostel with some other PCVs and got up bright and early Saturday for our day of filming HLWG exercise videos for distribution to PCVs to encourage staying fit during service. What a hilarious and fun day! I was in the Yoga/Meditation video, led by a senior volunteer named Maggie, who’s a certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher but led in a basic, beginner’s practice for the film. I hung around and chatted while the other videos – Latin dance, resistance bands, core workout – filmed. When it came time for the last video, Cardio Kickboxing, to be taped, they were calling for volunteers and I was sick of sitting around so I jumped in and rocked out for 20 minutes of kickboxing led by Kevin and Kim, two hilarious and energetic PCVs.
Once HLWG business was finished around 7:30pm, I walked to the train station to meet my friend and fellow Group-39er, Julie, and her mom, Jan! I hadn’t seen Julie since Swearing-In, since she lives in the NE and I in the SW of Ukraine. I spent Saturday night and most of the day Sunday with her and her mom, who had been visiting for a week. We played tourist on Sunday, catching the cathedrals and souvenirs and eating cups of melted chocolate. It was so nice to catch up with Julie and meet her mom – now I know where to take my parents when they come!
I was a little nervous about the train ride home on Sunday night because Rachel and I hadn’t been able to get seats together. My worries were unfounded, however, as I ended up sharing space with three Chernivtsi University students – great people whom I played cards and chatted with all evening, mostly in Ukrainian with some English here and there. A good end to a good weekend, though I’m glad to be back at site for a while with no immediate travel plans.