Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Korychevka Village School

The kids, and backrow, left to right, Olga;
principal Ludamila; me, and Tonya.

Tonya invited me to her school last week to meet her pupils. It's a school of about 100 students from first to 11th form in the village of Korychevka, where Tonya lives and teaches.

It's about 45-minutes from Starobilsk. Olga, Tonya's friend who made the arrangements and joined me, managed to get Vladimir Romashky, director of Starobilsk TV, there, too, to cover the event. And also to drive us out to the school! It was Ukrainian hospitality, generosity and talent all the way.

We were greeted at the door by Tonya and two students holding homemade Ukrainian bread on a red embroidered Ukrainian table runner,a wonderful traditional greeting for guests. We were entertained by the students, who put on a play, read poetry, and sang Ukrainian and American songs. A chorus sang Jingle bells. I met the principal, Ludamila, a lovely woman, warm and welcoming, and some other teachers and students.

Next we went into a room set up with dining tables featuring a variety of Ukrainian food, including vareneky, a national dish, made by the students. What's a Ukrainian gathering without food? It was served by young students in Ukrainian dress; they looked beautiful. We were regaled with more singing and welcomes.

I was up next. I thanked everyone, said how honored I was to be there, how much I liked their play and songs, and told a little about myself. Then came the Q & A. The students asked good questions, obviously well-prepared by their excellent teacher, Tonya. Do you have a family? What do you do here? How do you like it? What did you do in Ameria? Do you like Ukrainian traditions? Are they like American traditions?

It was fun, and the kids could not have been sweeter or more enthusiastic. It was like being at Camp Sosnovy and, in fact, I did recognize one young boy, Slava, who had been at the Camp. He was pleased I remembered him. He's the boy in the hat looking through through the window of the Ukrainian house, part of the students' play. You can see the beautiful bread and embroidery work too.

I passed out maps of the US, and like at the Camp, the kids wanted me to sign their copies, which I was happy to do! It was fun for the children to see a real American. For them it is a treat, and for me it is always a pleasure.

It reminds me how rich in talent and creativity young Ukrainians are, how they inspire hope. "I'll be back," I said as I left. They were delighted. I was grateful. I had received so much more than I gave, another heart-warming and unforgetable Ukrainian experience.

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