Inside Two Months

I recently started journaling…yeah, now…and I’ll admit it has made me more reflective and introspective than I normally am. Typically I look forward; trying to identify a new challenge, skill, or just a general area of interest. However, writing my thoughts down has afforded me the opportunity, if not forced me, to slow down and take a look back.


Yesterday I wrote an email to a good friend of mine. We catch up with each other from time to time and its always cool to see what each other is up to, what is going on in life, what our new goals are, etc. As I was typing, I literally wrote “…this might end up as a blog post at some point soon…” Obviously, the whole thing isn’t going to be shared – it was a personal email after all. However below are some edited highlights I feel have helped to bring my service to a close.

Here we go (I’ve added the links for blog purposes):

I’m inside two months…don’t know the exact number of days. I’ve refused to count since I got here and I’ll be damned if I’m going to start now. I’m not going to lie, I’m not ready. Mentally, emotionally, project-wise; I’m not. I think part of that is that I’m unsure of exactly what I’m going back to…every time I’ve left somewhere, I’ve always known where I was going to end up, what I was going to do, etc. Either that, or I feel that with the momentum I have now, there is a lot more I can accomplish. I would rather leave on that note, though, instead of being in a hurry to get out. It is probably a combination of the two. This experience has definitely prepared me for the unknown. 
Wrapping up, I’m busier than ever…and I like it. My crowning project will be an Instructor Training for our Eastern Rinok project. As many things in Peace Corps go, everything isn’t going to plan. However, we’re going to be OK and we’ll be good to go. Its actually the first project of its kind in Ukraine sponsored by Peace Corps Volunteers, so I’m thinking everyone is paying a little extra attention to how it will go. No pressure right? I do have an awesome partner and great support from others, so the planning is a lot easier. (More on this in a later post)
Over the summer, I also helped to start a US-based NGO called Bridge2Ukraine with current and former volunteers. We will be sponsoring Youth Banks in Ukraine. Basically, it means is that we will be fundraising to help support youth-driven projects. Since seed money is often hard to come by, especially here, we wanted to be able to provide youth here with the opportunity to design a project, create an action plan and budget, identify goals and outcomes, and finally go through the process of applying for funding. By design, they will start by working with another current PCV in country. We’re trying to teach multiple things here: project planning and management, youth empowerment/development, civic engagement, and volunteerism. We have a built in caveat, too: the more you do, the more active a group is, the more they can apply for – the proverbial “carrot” so to speak.
Finally, we are wrapping up a renovation project here with my primary organization to help create the resource center and initiate a “social project” we’re calling it Клубок, which in Russian literally translates to “ball of yarn.” What it also sounds like and spells out are the words, Клуб and ок, “Club OK”. See what we did there. We’ve created a pretty cool logo where the “ball” is actually a collection of clothes meant to symbolize the items we have for distribution, etc. This whole thing project actually contains what I consider to be an intangible success story for me. Short version: Ivan has gone from randomly designing a project and pulling budget out of the air to handing me a line item budget with price justification. 
Here are some after pictures from our drive (click the “renovation project” link to see before pictures):
Finally the clothes are out of boxes and properly displayed
Finally the clothes are out of boxes and properly displayed
This is just the start, next purchases is more hangers.
This is just the start, next purchases is more hangers.
Ivan admiring the new setup.
Ivan admiring the new setup.

Again, a huge THANK YOU to those who helped fund the renovation! There is no way we could have even gotten started without you. There is more to come and I will update as it goes along.

At the very beginning of my email I mentioned I have no idea how many days I have left in country; I really do refuse to count. There is a reason: I don’t want to lose focus of what I am trying to accomplish. After we finish our training in November, I’ll probably be singing a completely different tune…until that time comes, I’m going to hang on to this:





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