Our hosts at the 'universitat' have been amazingly gracious thus far, going above and beyond in order for us Canadians to fully experience everything that Ukrainian culture has to offer.
The generousity of our host families is obviously communicated (especially through FOOD!), our tutors have made learning a foreign alphabet and new language much easier, and each afternoon, activities are arranged for us once tutorials are completed.
So far, our afternoon activities have included Monday's boat ride and initial tour of the city, Tuesday's aerobics class and physical training (it was bizarre, hilarious, and grueling), Wednesday's pysanka - писанка - instructions, and Thursday's "mystery" concert (of which I will post pictures and video clips later... if I have the patience to load them!).
писанка (pysanka) is a Ukrainian tradition of painting eggs with beeswax, and there are distinctive traditions within each of the regions ('oblasts') throughout Ukraine. On Wednesday afternoon, a local pysanky artist (pysankist?!) came to the universitat to explain and teach us about this craft. I was fascinated by the deeper meanings behind the colourful designs, and am looking forward to this form of arts&crafts each Wednesday this month.
The process of drawing on eggs is extremely delicate, done with beeswax using a bobby pin or other small surface... very time consuming. I don't usually enjoy things that will consume large amounts of my time; I have a tendency to buzz about and accomplish a few different things at once, probably in an order that would not seem logical to anyone else but me.
So - in this typical 'Jen' fashion - I thought it would be much more 'efficient' (read:faster) if I used my finger in aiding the spoon to scoop my little egg out of the jar of dye. Key word there being DYE. It just so happened to be the purple pysanka dye, the darkest of all the dyes. I dyed my pointer finger писанка purple!
Our pysanka instructor thought I was ridiculous... she kept asking me questions (probably along the lines of, 'What were you thinking, you impatient little Canadian?!') but eventually gave up, laughing. I'll just have to slow it down next week and take my sweet time... 'patience is a virtue.'
(Note: Slava also laughed at me. But then she pulled out these magical lemon ('lay-mohn') salts, scrubbing my hands, and all that is still left of the purple pysanka dye is along the edges of my fingernail.) Also, Jessica had her camera... when I'm able, I'll add pictures of our писанка creations as well as my dyed finger.