Opposite Day

It is cold. Ukraine offers four full seasons with cliff dropping transitions. Only a few weeks ago I was enjoying the hot impact of summer. One morning I stepped outside and it was instantly fall. The trees were still vibrantly green and the streets were littered with soft, verdant leaves that died swiftly in the night from shock. As the next couple weeks unfolded Ukraine dropped heavily into autumn. In America we know fall is coming from the variety of pumpkin spiced everything. Out here it is declared by swift color changing trees and the sniffles.

Today I stepped into winter. The wind rattled the windows of my concrete and welded steel balcony and woke me from a drug induced slumber. My only thought as I made my way to the bus stop is that I need to boil my winter clothes tonight so that they can be worn as armor for the coming school week. The rotation into winter is favorable in that it will solve the remaining bed bug cleanup for me. I can take the remaining sealed trash bags and place them on the balcony and the 4-6 months of winter will cleanse the remains in a much more delicate way than harsh boiling.

The drama club yesterday was quite interesting. The students all arrived and we played an improv game. After that they just wanted to talk. They are ready to start rehearsing the play. I am going to look online tonight for a children’s version of A Christmas Carol to save me from heavily rewriting the play into simpler English; otherwise it will be an interesting and long weekend as I rewrite the entire play to make it foreign language friendly. The change is more for the audience than the actors but the actors will benefit so much from this experience – three months of speaking perfect english to each other in planned out dialogues. I only hope that they pay attention because then they will have so many perfect things to say.

I stepped into my classroom today and everything changed. In front of me sat a class that I had never seen before; rather two classes, one of the teachers went home sick, and the students were eager to meet me. This happens with first timers in Ukraine. They see the American, they listen to everything he says and for a few lessons they are very good students because they are so excited to have this foreign teacher in the room. Then the dust settles and they fall back into their normal habits. I know this will happen but today I let the enthusiasm and smiles fill me up. For almost two hours I walked up and down aisles and had conversations with kids that were trying very hard to communicate with me. Every time I asked a question hands shot up in the air. These kids are 8th graders and because of the ‘foreign teacher’ atmosphere they were working harder and speaking better than most of the 10th graders that I teach. Today I walked away from school feeling immensely happy and satisfied. I didn’t even care that I was thrown into a double classroom without a lesson plan or teacher to actually work with.

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