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Last Ukraine post from Kelly

Last Ukraine post from Kelly
Kelly - Sat Jun 30, 2012 @ 11:29AM
Comments: 6


This will be my last entry from Ukraine.  We fly home tomorrow.  We returned to L'viv last night--this time our driver was pulled over for talking on his cell phone; however, he managed to talk his way out of a ticket.  Today has been spent enjoying this beautiful European city and buying every souvenir we can get our hands on.  It's a gorgeous day so we began by hiking to the top of High Castle, a scenic overlook with a picturesque view of the city below.  We wound our way through the souvenir markets; hunting for the best deals.  At about mid-afternoon the whole team met up at a cafe for an afternoon snack.  I ordered kaba (kava) glasse, which is espresso with ice cream.  Yum!  And a cheese strudel with vanilla sauce.  To die for!  I could eat in European cafes sitting out on the cobblestone streets for the rest of my life.

Last night was the best time I've ever had in my six years of coming to Ukraine.  First of all, my demeanor changed drastically with the end of the conference and the enormous weight that was removed from my shoulders.  For dinner we went to a military themed restaurant.  You are greeted at the door by a man in uniform carrying a machine gun and he demands a password for entry.  He says, "Glory to Ukraine" and we must respond "And glory to heroes."  As you enter he pours a flavored shot of vodka out of a canteen; another requirement for entry.  We were led downstairs into some amazingly decorated underground rooms.  Raid sirens periodically could be heard throughout the restaurant.  At one point the lights went off and we could hear people yelling and demanding answers (they were looking for Russians).  They came into the room where we were eating and demanded to know where the Russian was.  They accosted one of our translators; throwing her over someone's shoulder and carrying her out of the room.  She wasn't returned to us for about 15 minutes.  Safe and sound.  I shared a 1/2 meter long sausage with someone and it was one of the best sausages I've ever had.  On the way back to the hotel we passed a street musician playing a violin.  One of our group members, Johanna, has played the violin since she was 11 and was allowed to play for us using the man's violin.  She's extraordinary!  The street musician likes to play Appalachian folk music so he demanded we dance and taught us a simple square dance.  A few of us danced in the streets and had a blast!  Seemed like the perfect ending to a great week.

The conference ended on Friday on a high note.  It was a super day.  For some reason our message of 'we want to use your computer and your projector every morning' was not understood well.  Again, on Friday morning, it was not set up and Karen's presentation on Special Education Delivery Models was delayed by about half an hour as we waited for the equipment.  It worked out though because I was able to use the time to get feedback about the conference and ideas for next year's presentations.  The group really liked the set-up of the afternoon breakout sessions and had specific ideas for future topics.  I hope to use their ideas to draft a schedule for next year's conference early in the fall and use that to find volunteers earlier than April and May.  Lori gave a combined lecture of theory and practical approaches to teaching literacy, which was received well.  Both Karen and Lori consulted in the afternoon.  I finished the week by showing them how to conduct a preference assessment to find highly motivating reinforcers for their children and tried my darndest to finish my presentation on treating behavior.  I got through about 50 of my 80+ slides.  Other than not finishing, I felt really good about my presentation.  Unfortunately I had to stop at 2:45 because we needed to hold the closing ceremonies and hand out certificates, but Zhenya (my translator) told me they were upset that I wasn't finishing and would have stayed longer to allow me to finish.  I kind of felt bad I wasn't able to.  My presentation was about 3 hours worth of material and I only had two hours.  Plus, I too had technical difficulties.  The slides weren't advancing on the overhead and at one point they stopped advancing altogether.  They managed to find another computer and we were able to get it fixed.  Everyone was thrilled to get their certificates and stopped to pose for pictures with us.  We learned that the conference counted as a part of their mandatory professional development so they needed those certificates as proof.  That made us feel like we truly were helping the teachers.  It was official that we were helping.

It's been a topsy turvy wonderful week.  Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement.  I couldn't do this without all of you.
Comments: 6


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