One thing you may or may not know about me: my patience levels are extraordinarily low. I claim I was just 'born this way,' I was premature after all! But still, I typically look at what is ahead of me rather than focusing on the present. I'm big on anticipation.

Marissa pointed out that we have only 10 (10!) weeks before we depart for our placements. That being said, I'm getting antsy... I want to know when I'll be leaving, who I'll be living with, and whether or not I will have some time to travel and explore before coming home for a wedding mid-August.
Details are slightly up in the air, as my placement at the Internat with Jessica is now seperate from Intercordia Canada. From what I've been told this far, it is because the staff at the Internat prefers that we have Ukrainian language training; the language classes that we will take in Ternopil are not typical of other Intercordia placements. St. Jerome's is now in charge of booking our tickets, travel insurance, etc., rather than Intercordia.

I'm not sure what kind of other changes or alterations this means as of yet, as Jessica and I have to meet with Elyse (our wonderwoman at St. Jerome's), Joanne (our fearless leader and professor), and Myroslaw (dean of St. Jerome's) next week to sort through the details.


ukraine: by the numbers.

1991. Ukraine gains independance after the dissolution of the USSR.

47 million. approximate population of Ukraine, as of 2006.

66. estimated life expectancy at birth, as of 2004.

7,000. annual number of deaths of children under the age of 5.

100,000. estimated number of street children within Ukraine.

29% of Ukrainians living below the poverty line, as of 1999.

20% of Ukrainian women who regularly face domestic abuse.

62,000. number of children found in residential institutions throughout Ukraine.

2004. year of the 'Orange Revolution,' in hopes of political and economical reform of the Ukrainian government.

487. number of HIV testing and counselling sites within Ukraine.

53,000. total number of Ukrainians in need of antiretroviral therapy (related to HIV) in 2005, according to the World Health Organization.

200,000. number of women over the age of 15 living with HIV, as of 2005.

sources: UNICEF, the World Health Organization


more Українська!

Carly (aka, my darling sister) sent me a birthday card a few weeks ago... in Українська! I didn't know she was multi-lingual, but the Ukrainian content was courtesy of her Faulkner teammate, Maryna. Car was strict - she wouldn't (and still won't!) tell me what the Ukrainian message said; I have to translate it all on my own. Sneaky, eh!?
So far I've only gotten four (tres important) words: "Happy Birthday, Jen!" (obviously... it's a birthday card, after all) as well as the word "Ukraine."
I'm basically learning the Українська alphabet as I go along... and at this rate, I'll be turning 23 by the time I translate the rest of the card!


hnatiuk pedagogical university.

Before Jessica and I begin our volunteer placement at the Internat, we will be taking Українська (Ukrainian) language courses at a local university in Ternopil.

As of right now, I'm not 100% sure as to which university we will be studying at, but I'm assuming that we will be studying at the Ternopil V. Hnatiuk National Pedagogical University.

But keep in mind that this hunch of mine is only based on my 'detective' work so far - the other university in Ternopil - Ternopil National Economic University - doesn't seem to offer language credits (although I could easily be wrong!).


checking in.

I feel guilty for not posting something incredibly informative or thought provoking as of late. 'Overwhelmed' feels like an understatement right now - my to do list is a monster that has taken on a life of its own. As soon as I am satisfied by crossing off one or two items, four or five seem to spring up out of nowhere in their place. Aaak.
[Insert Joanne's start of term advice here: "It is okay to be frustrated. It is through frustration, that we learn..." And boy, am I ever learning!]

Some bits and pieces:

  • Sure, I'm fairly chatty. But in front of a church congregation? I totally froze during my initial presentation at my fundraiser. I literally stood at the podium, smiling. Smiling goofily at a lot of people for a few minutes. Just hanging out. At the podium. And managed to squeak through the presentation and recover with a speech prepared once the movie was over. My in-class presentation wasn't quite so awkward. Let's hope that I'll eventually get better at this part.

  • My passport has been renewed. One less thing to do!

  • Current Ukrainian anxieties: the food, language and communication barriers, loneliness and isolation, potentially feeling like I'm useless at the orphanage?

  • I've been trying to do background research on the Internat where I will be volunteering. So far - not much luck! I have so many questions - ...how do the girls end up at the Internat? How long have they been there for? What happens when they are no longer considered 'children,' where do they go? Are they able to be adopted? Are they a part of the education system? Why do orphanages seem to be common in Eastern Europe?

  • This semester has been one of my most difficult while at UW... My concentration and efforts in other classes have been slip-sliding lower and lower as I've put most of my time and energy into preparations and plans related to Beyond Borders. Next time you see me, please remind me to focus... ? ['Dyakuju!]


the basics.

here I am, showcasing my limited PowerPoint skills (eek!)... this presentation was shown at the Fireproof fundraiser last Friday night. It's basically a (very) brief explanation of what I will be doing this summer while in Ukraine, and the basics of Beyond Borders. enjoy.



Yesterday, I recieved a gorgeous, handmade travel journal from one of my closest friends. I thought that the inscription inside (from Keri Smith's book, 'How to Be an Explorer...') was absolutely perfect. Definitely visit the link above to be inspired.



On Friday night, I was literally STUNNED by the generosity of those who attended my movie night in York.

Thanks to all of you - I have surpassed my fundraising goals! I am incredibly honoured to be on the recieving end of an amazing amount of support and encouragement.

'Duze dyakuju!'
Thank you very, very much!


fundraising update.

After watching and posting the video 'The Miniature Earth,' I was struck by how blessed we are here in North America... no matter what the media tells us about the economy. We have beds to sleep in, food in our fridge, and a roof over our head - all of our basic needs are met, day in and day out. For that, we are incredibly lucky; it reminds me of a Scotiabank advertisement that read, "You're richer than you think."

Many of us are also blessed richly with various communities, connections, and a unique network of relationships. Since I have started sharing this journey with others, I have been amazed at the support and encouragement shown to me!

In terms of fundraising, I have surpassed the halfway mark to my goal of $2,000.00. Thank you to those who have generously contributed! I have been blown away by the generousity that I have experienced, and it is very deeply appreciated.
(Spoiler alert: shameless plug ahead!)

Just an FYI... This Friday, February 6th I will be hosting a fundraising event at the Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in York, Ontario. Doors open at 6:30 pm, and refreshments and desserts will be offered before we show Fireproof, a Christian film about a firefighter attempting to save his marriage. I will also be giving a short presentation about the Beyond Borders program and my plans for Ukraine.
Admission is free, and there will be an opportunity to donate to my fundraising efforts. Please contact me if you are interested in attending!
To view the trailer, visit this Fireproof link.