Hello from Rozhniv, Ukraine. I am settled in here and have all the time in the world to write in my blog. We were sworn in as US Peace Corps Volunteers on December 15, 2011. The US Ambassador to Ukraine was unable to be present, but someone was sent from the US Embassy to administer the oath. It was a sad and exciting moment to finally be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m not a newb anymore.
I met my counter-part (the person I will be working with for the next 2 years at site) at the swearing-in conference in Kyiv. She is a great lady and speaks excellent English. She calls me almost everyday to see how I’m doing. Anyway, I’m now here in Rozhniv and can tell you the details. I am working in a school of 700 students (Saltykova by comparison had only 80 students) and there are over 80 teachers (Saltykova had around 10). The population is a little less than 7,000 (Saltykova by comparison had 800-1100 people) I live in a cottage alone just outside the school. The cottage is a cute little house, unfortunately I don’t have running water or a bathroom, but it’s a struggle and challenge that I enjoy … if that makes any sense.
My first day of school was actually on my birthday. The day started out at the crack of 8:30, every Monday there is a teachers meeting and I was asked to attend. I walked in the room and could see the longest table I have ever seen and there were 80 pairs of Ukrainian eyes looking at me. Now, Ukrainians are unbelievably hospitable and nice people … but when they look at you, it’s kind of like how you would look at the Unabomber or Charles Manson if he walked in the room. I sat down right away; I had a speech prepared in Ukrainian because I knew I would probably have to introduce myself. After the director (principal) finished the meeting I was asked to introduce myself, which went pretty well. I had spent the night before writing it. So I gave my speech and my counterpart (Iryna) stands up and tells them it’s my birthday. They all stood up and sang me Happy Birthday … IN ENGLISH !!!! …. It was great.
I observed a few lessons after the meeting and I am very excited to start teaching, the students seem eager to learn English. Every Monday there is also a student meeting and at the start of the meeting they play the Ukrainian National Anthem. They played the Ukrainian National Anthem and then to my surprise, they played the American National Anthem!…I’ve honestly never been more proud to hear it. When the school day was over the English teachers took me out to dinner and we chatted for a while and drank some wine (which tasted and looked more like grenadine). But it was very nice to talk to them and the food was amazing.
So I now have an address…if anyone would like to send me a letter or better yet a package my address is below. The best thing to do is copy it into a word processor, print it out, and then paste it onto a letter or package. The address needs to be in both Ukrainian and English. WordPress decided to double-space both the English and Ukrainian address, so just ignore that. At the end of this post there are mailing guidelines.
Ukrainian Address (Don’t write “Ukrainian Address” on the envelope/package):
Івано – Франківска Обл.
English Address (Don’t write “English Address” on the envelope/package):
I have a lot more to write, but I think this post is getting too long.
Parcels send via USPS Priority Mail International and valued at $200 or less are delivered without a customs declaration. Please mark the parcel value as less than $200.
Ukrainian Customs Law does not allow medicines, money, official documents, or jewelry to be sent across the border.
It is allowed to bring foodstuffs across the Ukrainian border if it meets the following conditions:
Not more than one box/pack per one kind of foodstuff
All foodstuff weight should not exceed 2kg
Total value of it should not exceed 50 EUR
Food should not be raw
It should be factory packed
Due to recent changes in Ukrainian customs regulations, Peace Corps strongly discourages you from using courier mail services (such as USPS Global Express Guaranteed, USPS Express Mail International, DHL, FedEx, TNT, UPS, MeEst etc.) when sending mail to Ukraine. The new customs regulations provide for mandatory customs processing of all courier mail sent via these services, regardless of declared value.
United States Postal Service Priority Mail International (USPS Priority Mail International) is believed to be the most convenient way to send mail from the U.S. to Ukraine; if the declared value does not exceed $200 and if the weight is less than 50kg. It is also necessary for the shipper to apply the following statement: “Goods for personal use.”
Please do not indicate anywhere in the address or on the package that it is for official US Government use or related to the Peace Corps.