Cliff Gardner

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Camps by the barrel!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while--camps have pretty much been occupying all of my time. Here's what I've been up to:

--Camp Big Bang! My "gender and race issues" class that I taught with my friend Lindsay was a hit--so much so in fact that when campers were surveyed about their favorite class at camp, it was ranked #1, ahead of free time (where they played kickball and soccer) and arts and crafts (where they made dream catchers). I felt loved. Other camp highlights include getting to know awesome PCV's from all over Ukraine (and writing them happy notes to put in their "happy bags" on the wall, a great feature of this camp that is basically the most "me" thing ever), cross dressing as a woman for a competition (I looked hot), kicking out 25 year old locals from our nightly disco, and meeting a member of the Rada (basically a Ukrainian Senator). I also watched some episodes of the third season of "The Office," which was amazing, and the entire last season of "Grey's Anatomy," which was terrible. Despite being one of the more exhausting two and a half weeks ever (we worked from 7 am to 10:30 pm every day) I'm totally going back next year!

--Visiting friends in Kyiv! I went straight from Big Bang to Kyiv to have a mini-break/brainstorm lessons/camps with folks from my cluster, including Jess, Emily, Hillary, Shelby, Ashley and Nick. It was great, and I've decided that if I could live in any city in the world other than Portland, it would be Kyiv.

--Camp Tobe (Teaching Our Boys to Excel)! This camp is still going on--we're climbing Mount Hoverla (the highest mountain in Ukraine) tomorrow--and it's the camp I'm doing because I'm part of the Gender and Development working group. So far, we've gone on a hike, had lessons on decision making and gender roles (which I co-taught), played football, swam in a river, and had the campers buy condoms, diapers, tampons and other things that shouldn't freak them out but for some reason do. Also, I spent about a day, including a horrific 19 hour train ride from Odessa to Kolomia, getting here--something that I get to repeat in the next 48 hours and which I plan to chronicle for posterity/entertainment in an upcoming blog post and/or newspaper article, and saw the giant pasanki museum which featured a giant egg out front--pictures to follow. Oh, and I missed the giant cloud of phosphorus that hurt lots of people in the oblast next to this one--I'm fine, but lots of people are in trouble, so keep them in your thoughts and prayers please.

These camps have been great, but I'm just tired and can't wait to go home to my site. However, only a day after I get back from TOBE, I'm headed up to Kyiv again and then Konotop to meet Jess' dad, step-mom and little brother, and I'm really excited about it, though I'm basically living on night trains at this point. I love and miss you all!