We had some snow during the last week in Lviv. It reminded me of home, of my mountains in Les Vosges that I miss from time to time. It’s been a month and a half since I first arrived in Ukraine and I already lost count of all the things I have accomplished in the last weeks.
I had the chance to organize my first project: a linguistic and intercultural meeting in a vegan café (the Om Nom Nom). Around fifteen persons came, and I was very pleased with the results. We exchanged a lot; I met a lot of new people coming from divers’ horizons and it made me want to do it again. Besides that, I keep giving French classed every Friday and working with children, even if it is a challenge, represents something new to me that I am very happy to be discovering.
Beyond that, I’m learning a big number of new things every day. We started getting Ukrainian courses, something we’ve been waiting for for weeks now and to be honest, it is even more complicated than I thought it would be. But being able to finally read the Cyrillic alphabet, understand some sentences, some words, give me a feeling of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in a long time. I also was able to participate in some workshops, one was related to the concept of digital storytelling and through this project, I started learning how to use an editing software, which is something I was waiting for impatiently (the media aspect of the project is one of the main reasons I wanted to participate). I am also starting to get to know the concepts of photography and photo editing with Lightroom. Even if photography isn’t my main goal during the project, I am very happy to have the opportunity to learn it and develop skills in this field.
In a more informal way, I had the opportunity to learn how to cook a couple of Ukrainian dishes: Varenykys (Ukrainian dumplings with mashed potatoes, meat and/or mushrooms) and Bortsch (an amazing beetroot soup) which were both great (probably because they were cooked under the oversight of Katya, a Ukraine native who cooks amazingly. I’ll get back to you with more details when I will try to cook them myself.) I also went to a tango dance class with some friends which I really liked. I reminded me of my childhood when I used to take dance classes. I am thinking of getting back to it maybe in the next months.
I realize that I do things here that I would have never even thought about in France. Like going to a private hammam during the evening for the modest sum of seven euros per person, a thing that would have maybe been five times more expensive in France. I open myself to new opportunities here because, as a stranger and a volunteer, I am offered a lot of choices, ideas of things to do or implement. A lot of people that I meet wish to get to know me and my culture better, that we spend some time together to talk, to create things together and therefore propose to go out and to discover things a lot more that If I was in France. Because of this privilege and the rule that I set to myself not to say no to any opportunity, I have a lot of occasions to do things I would never do at home.
I am also learning a lot of things about myself, how I handle pressure, responsibilities, how to live alone in a different country than the one I grew up in. The human experiences I am living right now is deeply changing me, thanks to the skills I am acquiring every day, but also thanks to the life experiences I discover as time goes by.