20100329_off to Peace Corps camp

March 27, 2010

Caroline at the San Diego International Airport with the allowed 100 pounds of stuff … and a bit more….

A City water main on Harbor Drive broke the morning of my flight causing major traffic delays and every flight leaving San Diego was delayed three to six hours.  I made it to D.C. at 2 a.m. the next day!

The green navy parachute bags in the photo belong to my organization now as these bags will hold LOTS and as my organization has changed office space a few times during our original office remodel, these bags are great.  The bag cart/carrier is also now happily at home with my organization.  The tennis racquet is coming home!




2010_0617 004 Our baggageJune 17, 2010

After three months of language and cultural training, the 100 allowed pounds of luggage has somehow multiplied to four huge bags that contain:  Fifty pounds (yes, I kid you not 50 pounds) of Russian language materials, an electric heater for my soon-to-be-discovered living conditions (another 50 pounds) ; a fire extinguisher for the soon-to-be-discovered living conditions, a smoke alarm for the soon-to-be-discovered living conditions, and mosquito netting for my soon-to-be-discovered living conditions.

We had to put all this stuff on the train – under my bed/bench/bunk and under my travel companion’s bed/bench/bunk – and then we had to take it all off the train and get it to my soon-to-be-discovered living conditions!




2010_0705 001 On the move againJuly 5, 2010

Ready to move to my flat in the city center.

Added a fan and a printer to the collection of stuff!





July 6, 2010 to May 13, 2012

I thought it might be fun to share with everyone what my little flat is like.  As Peace Corps Ukraine experiences go, I have absolutely zero complaints.  I live in the city center. I have running water all day every day. I have hot water, all day every day. I have indoor plumbing, a tub that also had a great shower.  I have very fast internet service. I walk daily to work, to the markets, to the train station, to the symphony, to just about everything.

My building as seen from the street in front of my flat. First photo was taken at the end of Summer 2011, second photo was taken this spring, March 25, 2012

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This is the view of the street from my living room, kitchen and bedroom.  These photos were taken during the seasons- spring, summer, and winter!

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The photo with the full moon was the night of the BIG, Bright Full moon, one year ago, March 19, 2011.

This is the small street that runs parallel to the street in front of my building.  I access my building via this little street. 

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This is the entry to my building.  Once the door is open, there is a small entry and then stairs up to the elevator (which I won’t use).  The stairs have a variety of “rises”  from one inch to 12 inches! And there is no light in the hall way.  The light is by the elevator.   I did not use these mailboxes.  I had a P.O. box at the local post office, two blocks from my building.

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This is the stairwell; I walk up four flights of stairs to my apartment.  There are three apartments on either side of the elevator.  The walls are less than perfect and the wiring is in tubes on the exterior of the walls.  When the Soviets pulled out of Ukraine, any Ukrainian that was living in an apartment (that was owned and managed by the State) became an instant owner of the flat.  BUT because the buildings were always maintained by the State, NO ONE takes care of anything other than their personal flat.  Hence, the stairways, the hallways, the walls, etc.. are in very bad shape and need TLC.  The last photo in the group below shows the elevator and landing the area with three apartments on the left side,  one of which is mine.


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The first photo is the heavy steel door that unlocks to the area where my Flat is.  The three buzzers are the door bells that advise me someone is visiting. The second steel door (with my “playdough” d├ęcor) is my front door.  The third door, with the number 13, it the door that opens into my flat.  Note that the #13 is on the inside door, not the heavy exterior door.

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While the hallways, stairwells and exterior areas of the buildings may look depressing, many apartments, once inside, are nice.  My flat was remodeled just before I moved in in July 2010.

First photo: my entry hall where you leave your shoes and coat. Second photo:  shows doors to the WC and the bathroom (sink and tub).  The hall goes directly to the Kitchen.

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My living room has a wardrobe, a sofa, three tables, my computer desk, five stools, two chairs.  The wardrobe has a mirror and shows the reflection of my living space.  My bedroom is a small enclosed porch off the living room.  I have vinyl windows WITH SCREENS in all three rooms.

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I have had a lot of fun living in my little flat.  IAs many of you have seen in past blogs, I have cooked up a storm in the tiny kitchen with one oven, four burners and a very small sink! 

Living proof that my live style is transportable anywhere!

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Because I purchased most of the apartment supplies and bedding, it is now time for the “Great Luhansk Garage Sale” in order to sell or donate almost everything (clothes, dishes, pots, pans, kitchen cutlery, and WINTER CLOTHES) that is in my little flat. 

Hard to believe that in six weeks, I will return home with a lot less than 100 pounds of stuff, but I will have a lifetime of great memories with my PC pals from Group 38

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Next blog, I will take you on a walk around Luhansk! 

ENJOY SPRING!  I hope rain comes to California and I hope sun and lovely trade winds stay in Hawaii!


Happy Women’s Day

Hello Everyone!

Today we celebrated Women’s Day.  This day is a VERY BIG DEAL in Ukraine.  So important in fact, that everyone (or almost everyone) has a four day holiday weekend.  YES… Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

And no this holiday does not replace Mother’s day in May! 

Our organization celebrated with a fun festival- the young men put on aprons and recited poems of thanks to their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends etc. 

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And then, the group played fun games: taking balloons and making a lovely feminine face and adding a scarf – adding the scarf was tough on a latex balloon!

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Then the entire group had fun making cards for the women in their life or we made picture frames from craft sticks, yarn and very glittery, very fun stickers! I am using the last of the fun things all my friends from home have sent to me!  MY group has had a ball with all these craft items from home.

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While my work is lots of fun- literally creative fun, I have also been busy with more seminars presenting what Americans do for disabled students, elementary school through college.  Our organization has received funding from the United Nations Development Fund for seminars on “Inclusive Education.”  It is fascinating to look out and see faces of teachers :  Some teachers are so ready to move forward and have disabled children in their classrooms.

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It would not be a complete blog from Caroline without a Luhansk cooking club update!  Sunday, Feb. 26, we celebrated Pancake Day, well really Pancake Week in Ukraine.  Rather than one day, Mardi Gras, for one last party before Lent, Ukraine celebrates the week before their Lent with Pancakes.  LOTS of pancakes.  The cooking club had an evening of Ukrainian pancakes and American buckwheat pancakes.  The Ukrainian pancakes had cheese and fruit syrups.  The American pancakes had black currants on them (because I thought I had bought blueberries) , maple syrup and bacon!  A total feast before Lent.

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Our Ukrainian cooks making Bliny

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The American cooks making buckwheat pancakes

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Bacon and pancakes…. ready for syrup!


When I finished my last blog, I had thought perhaps spring might not be far behind.  I will never have a job as a weather forecaster!  We have had more snow and many more cold days.  We had two days where the temperature was +1 (that is 33F) and so the snow became lovely slush.  And then the thermometer went back to –7 or –8 and all that slush turned to ice!

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Brown ice on the sidewalks—sand is used to “melt” the ice, but it doesn’t work the way salt does.  It is just very slick and very uneven.

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A mini-skating pond on the side walk!

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The ONLY ice I really like- and where it belongs!

To all my gal pals, celebrate Women’s Day in style.  To all my guy buddies, celebrate Women’s Day with a wonderful lady!

See everyone soon! (72 days remaining!)

Big hug to all.