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Living in Ukraine II: staying abroad

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It’s hard to deny that the act of living in another country, in another language, fundamentally changes you. Different parts of your personality sort of float to the top, and you take on qualities, mannerisms, and opinions that define the new people around you. And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s often part of the reason you left in the first place. You wanted to evolve, to change something, to put yourself in an uncomfortable new situation that would force you to into a new phase of your life.




Even just going to the grocery store — when in an exciting new place, when all by yourself, when in a new language — is a thrilling activity. And having to start from zero and rebuild everything, having to re-learn how to live and carry out every day activities like a child, fundamentally alters you.


And the most important part: while doing an EVS you get to know many people. Many different people, very often coming from different countries, different backgrounds and this is I think the most valuable part of EVS experience. Suddenly you can have friends everywhere, be able to stay at ‘friend’s place’ in any town in Europe, because you are all members of a great community, the EVS family. To me this a great thing and even though I was travelling quite a lot before my EVS, I only then understood how easy it can be, even when your budget is tight. EVS was a turning point for me in discovering Europe. And its inhabitants, because a town in a local’s eyes is always more interesting than when you visit it with a guidebook in your hand. I am in touch with people I met during my EVS since February 2014 and I know that I will meet many of them again - it doesn’t matter where we will do it: whether it’s Madrid, Berlin or Warsaw.

Living in Ukraine I

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I was so focused on my project and trying to get by day to day – I literally tried to absorb all the moments as they happened and hold tight to those. Well, I guess now is a good time to take a break and write a bit about daily life in Ukraine, beginning with a photo of the bedroom I used to share with two other volunteers  from 10th of February till the 1st of June 2014.  It’s a good introduction to living there.

I loved that apartment. It was not cheaply updated and tacky like many of the apartments that locals might opt to recommend for foreigners. It had old wallpaper, antique furniture, and a distinct soviet character. It was renovated (but the unique style remained), well-equipped and capable to become „a home” for me.

One of the things I noticed immediately is that most toilets in city apartments are separated from the bathroom  – so one can take a shower without blocking use of the toilet.

Continental winter might be very cold – we all know this. What I didn’t know is that the heat subsidized in the cities makes every apartment like an oasis to come home to. It was not uncommon for me to be walking around in a tank top and shorts during the winter months when I was at home in the apartment. But here is  a list of things that could happen on any given day and for which you just have to get used to. First of all, it’s not uncommon for the hot water (or all of it) to be shut off for a moment (some hours, one day, sometimes few days). If there were any sort of renovations in the building going on, you might see a tiny little sign on the entryway saying they were going to shut off the water – or you might not and it might just go off.  Second of all, in some houses the hot water is only available from the morning (about 7-8 AM) up to 10-11 PM.

I remember one morning waking up and it was -30 C outside. I went to go take a warm shower only to find that there was no hot water. I opted to just wash my hair that day. Having the water shut off on random occasions became a normal thing that I would just shrug my shoulders at and cheer when the faucet began to spout water again. 

Other things that became a regular occurrence, aside from the water being shut off, were things regularly breaking, especially the shower. We’ve had problems with every new shower head in the apartments we rented while traveling in  Ukraine. They would either break, or there was the one time we flooded the apartment below us in Kharkiv while doing laundry because we didn’t put the draining hose in the bathtub. Turns out this is also common in Ukraine but the apartment where I lived in Donetsk  had the hose drain through the sink, so I wasn’t aware of it. Like the water, sometimes the electricity would go off spontaneously and not come back on until the end of the day. And yes, in public bathrooms most people don’t clog the toilets with toilet paper (though I never really caught on to this). In fact, some public “toilets” are just squatty potties – porcelain bowls in the floor that you squat over. This is mostly common in train stations.

Being active is trendy

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Being active is a new tendency and we can easily notice that by checking a couple of new advertisements, that appeal to our activeness. We don’t want to be passive so in the morning we drink strong coffee and in the evening we turn on the light to stay active longer than the Sun is shining. Sometimes we also help ourselves with energy drinks to be more productive, when energy is running away. Active lifestyle is equally trendy. We climb, cycle, go to the gyms and swimming pools, we run the marathons and then post pictures in sportswear on facebook and vkontakte. We don’t wish to be out of this trendy active community.



How does it refer to our social life and public sphere? We have come to believe that being active is reserved only for special ones – to people with certain ideas and a wish to change the world. But these days it is changing. We start to notice how important each of the members of community is. There are more and more people in Europe, Ukraine and namely, Chernivtsi who actively take part in designing current life conditions and future of the society. Such citizens do not want to stay old-fashioned guys, who only care about their family circle. They understand how crucial it is to plant trees, to use green transport instead of cars, to preserve traditional culture or to organize free-time activities for youngsters.


The truth is, active citizenship is not in a special place, where somebody decides for the whole world how it is going to look like. It is not connected with popularity of social activists. Active citizenship cannot be built by one person. Active citizenship is a passion of local people who have a dream to live in a better society. As long as each of citizens has own vision how to make a change for “the better” – “the better” may vary strongly, depending on the person. Nevertheless, all the spontaneous acts of involvement are a manifestation of an active citizenship.


An active citizen is not necessarily a “good citizen” in the sense that they follow the rules or behave in a certain way. An active citizen may challenge the rules that are not satisfying. However, there is a general set of values and dispositions that can be associated with active democratic citizenship including respect for justice, democracy and the rule of law, openness, tolerance, courage to defend a point of view and a willingness to listen to, work with and stand up for others. Active citizens are those who develop the skills, knowledge and understanding to be able to make informed decisions about their communities and workplaces with the aim of improving the quality of life in these.     

Как понимать идеи неформального образования?

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Я предпочел бы развлекать и надеяться,что люди изучили что-то,  чем обучать людей и надеятся, что их развлекли.   

Уолт Дисней 



Есть несколько ценностей и идеалов в мире, которые стоит распространять. Идея, которая имеет огромное значение для  меня – это идея неформального обучения.

Традиционное образование имеет структуру и форму. Нетрадиционное обучение является противоположностью:  здесь нет данной структуры. Неформальное обучение лежит где-то между этими 2 крайностями. Это вы определяете, какие ваши приоритеты и как достичь свои цели. Это же не значит, что в неформальном образовании структура полностью исчезает. Принципы, структура, оценка существуют, но создает их сам учащийся. Студент планирует, а затем оценивает свой  процесс обучения.




Почему это важно?


Общество постоянно меняется, развитие цивилизации это процесс, и я думаю, что все из нас знают об этом. В противоположность этому, воспитание, фома образования - в ​​эту тему практически ничего не изменилось на протяжении веков.



Есть красивая история о том, как все меняется: много лет тому назад онда группа экспертов встретилась говорить о будущем города Нью-Йорк, в 1860 году. Они хотели переосмыслить то, как город будет выглядеть в 100 лет. Вывод  был такой – город Нью-Йорк  уже не будет существовать. Потому что смотря на популяцию Нью-Йорка в то время (то было 800.000), они сказали, что если город будет продолжать развиваться таким же образом, то для движения, транспорта – будет нужо 6 миллионов лошадей. И это будет невозможно справиться с экскрементами 6 миллионов лошадей.  А что было потом? Оказалось, что в  США в  1900 году был уже 1001 автозавод.. Все меняется. Идея поиска новой технологии полностью победила.  A в Нью-Йорке сейчас живет не 800.000 - но 8 миллионов человек. 




Мы не можем предсказать точный ход истории, но мы можем подготовиться к нему. Нужна новая фома образования. Человек будущего: активный, независимый морально, хорошо сам  себе знает, он работает инивидуално – но тоже спосбен работать в команде. Неформальное образование высоко ценится и очень популярное в Западной Европе. Набирает также растущие группы заинтересованных среди украинцев.


Один из методов обучения – делать что-то (учиться через деятельности). Такой принцип действует в экономике – чем более развитая экономика, тем быстрее она развивается, по поводу  прироста ее  собственных знаний и опыта. Самый эффективный способ обучения – дать задачи для выполнения. Практиковать иностранный язык, говорить с людьми – самостоятельно открыть для себя правила, которые управляют его  грамматикой. Общайтесь с носителями языка.  Есть программы, которые позволяют пройти обучение и стажировку за рубежом в соответствующих фирмах. Другие облегчают и частично финансируют начать свой собственный бизнес . Чаще всего люди готовы платить больше за то , чтобы быть удивленными , а не образованным. Поэтому организуются молодежные обмены, события, курсы и обучение неформального образа.






Для развития самосознания – в большинстве проектов самие участники решают, что они хотят узнать, чего ожидают. В процессе обучения, они отвечают на вопрос - как этот план реализуется. В конце оценивают – им удалось или нет?







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There are always at least 1-2 trainings each month organized. Target group are adults of diversified background. We have done trainings for various institutions and groups, like students of Donetsk State University, Center of Professional Career, Regional School Of Volunteers, as well as for our NGO and anybody interested. Topics were leadership and motivation, creativity and imagination, CV, time management and the like.








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