A Militiaman out for a stroll in Kyinka on Thanksgiving Day

When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, my Aunt Jill always makes us go around the table and say what we are most thankful for this year. I love the tradition, so here I go:

I am thankful for my wonderful family whose eclectic personalities never cease to entertain me or prove how lucky I am to have them in my life. I am thankful for my amazing boyfriend who has the biggest heart in the world and a personality to match. I am thankful for my friends who are truly beautiful both inside and out. I am thankful to be living in a country whose people have welcomed me with arms wide open and have already taught me so much about the simple joys of living.

Our first holiday away from home - Thanksgiving - Me, Aaron, Lauren, Dennis, Larry and Sarah with our feast.

This Thursday marked my first big holiday away from home. My cluster mates and I decided to celebrate on a day late and go into the big city on Thursday to get internet to skype our families. We were all able to talk, some of us for the first time since leaving the states almost three months ago.

On Friday we ended Russian language class a few hours early and started cooking our feast! The gang managed to make some delicious baked vegetables, fried chicken, non-cabbage or mayonnaise based salad, sweet varenyky and even apple pie with ice cream! (Mom, you will be very proud that I also successfully made Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!) I am very proud of what we managed to scrape together seeing that we only had one knife, an oven that smoked profusely, and a whole thanksgiving meal that cost the equivalent of $27.

Aaron teaching the 6th grade

Last week also marked our last English lessons in the Kyinka school since our training will be over in just two short weeks. We each taught a demo lesson by ourselves that was observed by a technical specialist sent from the Kiev office. We were all very nervous for the demo not only because we had an observer, but also because it was the first lesson we taught solo. I taught my tenth grade students how to write a professional letter. Only five kids showed up for my class (because there was an intramural soccer game going on outside), but they were very well behaved and throughly enjoyed how I framed the shape of a letter to be the same as a cheeseburger. I have a feeling that they might actually remember what I taught them 🙂 At the end of the classes, the students gave us a thank you card and a big box of chocolates. Next week we are hosting an English week at the school: On Tuesday the kids will be able to watch episodes of Planet Earth with us after school. On Wednesday we are hosting a workshop for all the teachers in the Kyinka school on how to use a digital projector in a classroom as well as presenting the English teachers with a booklet of tongue twisters we made for them per request. On Thursday we are hosting a game night in the school gymnasium where the kids can play any games they like as long as the commands and calls are in English.

Main street Kyinka