Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some new activities

So today I thought, “why not just try and enjoy myself these last few months here?” To  quit worrying about what I did and did not accomplish, what I can still accomplish.  To just let it all unfold whatever way it is meant to be. In my typical fashion, I can get myself pretty worked up about my life. As Pema says, “Lighten up!” And that is what I am going to try and do.

I do continue to be in a much better mood since I returned from my trip, more positive, less inclined to negative musings. I decided to start doing some English clubs outside the library and see what develops. Elmaz, the young woman at the library who spoke some English and whom I have so enjoyed working with the last couple of years, left the library in December for a different job at a children’s library—better pay and more conveniently located for her. It is on the route to my tutor’s, so I stopped by there soon after she began the job to see how she was doing. We got to talking and decided to try and do a children’s English club together. This is a different children’s library than the other one I worked at, and I found the director to be very friendly and open to new ideas, a rarity here in Ukraine. The first meeting of our club was last week and wasn’t very well attended, but we are hoping it will grow. Two of the students that came to my old clubs showed up, and it was great to see them.  The library also invited me to participate in a seminar they are presenting on tolerance in libraries. They wanted me to give an American perspective. I said, “Sure, I would be glad to,” feeling so encouraged that someone is talking about the concept of tolerance. 

In addition to my time at the children’s library, I am now spending  Friday afternoons at the Windows on America (WOA) center in the Crimean Tatar University (not its official name and other students besides Crimean Tatars go there, but it was originally founded to teach Crimean Tatar language teachers and so many people still refer to it as the Crimean Tatar University). WOA is a project of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. In every oblast (an oblast is like a state in the US), the embassy donated computers and books to create a center where people could come to learn about the U.S. and also learn English. Usually the center is located in the main library of the oblast, but for some reason it ended up at KIPU—the Crimean Tatar University. I had conducted an English club there in the past, but now it seems to be a much more active place. The current director is someone I had gotten to know a little, so I talked with her about doing an English club to discuss American literature with the idea of introducing the participants to some American writers they may not be familiar with, especially women and people of color.  

We have had two meetings so far, and it has been great fun. What a lively group of intelligent young people, some of whom are very good English speakers and all of whom are excited to read and discuss whatever I present to them.  Plus I love spending time with Alie, the director. She is also a good English speaker and sort of a kindred spirit. She loves to hike and with her husband she gets out almost every weekend when the weather is good. Cheryl and Lilya and I ended up hiking with them once this fall. So I look forward to those possibilities as the weather warms up. Alie also reconnected me with the young woman and her mother that I had met hiking a couple of years ago.  She works upstairs from Alie and wants to do some hiking together too—maybe even this weekend if the weather cooperates. 

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