#PeaceCorps #Ukraine Journal from 19 October 2005 “Float”

I, alongside my wife (and many other Americans), served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. These posts represent pieces of the daily journals I kept.

Taught my second english class today at the Gymnasium. (Gymnasium as in secondary school, not as in basketball court–though the latter might have been just as successful.) I thought the class went really well. I taught exactly what my partner teacher asked me to teach, which felt a little weird and scripted. However, it was a great learning experience for me to teach sort of a straightforward, grammar-heavy lesson. Little did I know, the learning was only beginning.

When I got home, my X-Cultural Coordinator (XCC) called to discuss how the day went. I gushed. I thought it had went smashingly. The teacher seemed pleased; the students seemed eager. Well, my XCC had talked to my partner teacher, and the pleasantry after the class was pretty much just an act. She didn’t like the lesson, didn’t like what I had taught (thought I taught exactly what she asked me to teach, though with a different style, I suppose). She said the lesson was inappropriate.

Somewhere along the line, something definitely got lost in translation, even though we were all speaking English.

As in all things, I need to learn how to keep my mouth shut. (NB, LLL 2012: Still learning that.) I practiced with my XCC tonight. I took all of the criticism with an ‘okay.’ I can’t be defensive; I’ve got to hear it all, process it, and move on, incorporating what I can. I did mention that there’s only so much I can do, that a five-gallon bucket of water can’t hold seven gallons of water.

That Humboldtism definitely got lost in translation.

After my class, long before the call from my XCC, I went to the teacher’s lounge and journaled, as I do after every class. Reflection. Decompression. Turns out, though, that the head teacher thinks I’m writing critiques of all the teachers to pass on to the Vice Principal. Like I’m a spy. I had zero notion people thought I was being covert and espionage-y with my teaching journal.

With this assertion too, I need to learn to be calm. Linda, one of our fabulous doctors, said to get on my back and float. Be buoyed; don’t thrash against the waves. So, I say to myself: fucking float.

Let’s see how long this attempt lasts. As long as each successive try endures longer than the previous, I’m probably headed in the right direction.

 

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