Romny’s beautiful main square.

Ukraine continued its tradition of endless holidays these past two weeks. I am not exaggerating when I say, I almost expect my schedule to be completely altered when I arrive at school every morning. May is the climax of school holidays, and it is really effecting my motivation to prepare for lessons. Here are a few highlights…

Labor Day – May 2 – We did not have school this day, nor the two days before. Traditionally, the townspeople go to theie country houses to prepare the fields, plant potatoes and have picnics. I tried to offer my help, but was turned down by at least thee people saying that I wouldn’t be able to walk for a week after. I went to Kharkov for the weekend and experienced the worst bus ride of my life…80 degrees, no windows, 7 hours, long pants, with people sitting in the aisle the whole way.

Last Bell – May 3 – Literally, the last class bell for the graduating 11th formers. The entire primary and secondary schools gathered outside in their black & white school uniforms to congratulate the “school leavers” (as Ukrainians like to translate, graduates). They sang songs, danced, and presented flowers to teachers.

11th formers in their school uniform

Holupsti Day – May 5 – A personal holiday that commemorates the first time I made the amazingly delicious Holupsti traditional dish without tragedy! Simply mix a kg of farsh (ground meat), spices and vegtables. Boil a head of cabbage, remove the leaves, whole, one by one. Then roll the meat & vegetables in the cabbage leaves. Stick all the rolls into a pot, cover in tomato sauce and let simmer for an hour. Eat with sour cream and enjoy my new favorite food.

Victory Day – May 9 – A time to celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 and more specifically to remember the Vetrans of the Great Patriotic War (WWII).

A few of the Vetrans from Romny.

Click HERE to see some amazing photos of Victory Day celebrations throughout the post-Soviet states from Boston.com’s ‘The Big Picture‘.

My 6th form students holding photos of fallen vetrans.

Some of my fellow teachers and a strange camera man enjoying the Victory day parade.

Ballon release with adorable children and adorable veterans!

11th Form Graduation – May 12 – It started at 6pm with the graduates and teachers from all 13 schools in Romny parading down main street to the center square. The graduates wore suits and long gowns, the equivalent of US prom. The streets were lined with hundreds of people who gathered to watch the Mayor’s speech and award ceremony. At 9pm the schools walked back to their buildings to watch a special concert prepared by the 11th formers for their parents and teachers. Diplomas were presented at the end and our Director said a few words about each student. At 12 midnight, the students gathered at the local club, which our school had rented out for the night, to drink, dance and ‘make’ photos. The students stayed awake until sunrise…

Some beautiful fellow teachers and two beautiful 11th form graduates.

One of my favorite 11th formers and I. Congratulations Vika!

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