Mom Chronicles: Hints from the road

Ukraine: Discovering Ania's Homeland

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For the 2010-2011 school year, we're hosting a 16-year-old student from Ukraine named Ania. She's a bright shining star of a kid who studies hard, knows four languages, loves to talk, enjoys doing new things, and lights up our lives.  Here's a little bit about her country.

Some lucky students at Perry High are getting a one-of-a-kind culture lesson from Ania this week. She will present facts, stories, and pictures of Ukraine in a 47-slide Powerpoint Presentation. Presenting to her classmates about her home country is one of several activities the Department of State mandates, since she is in the U.S. on a scholarship (called the FLEX program). I know her by now enough to say without a doubt that she is happy and honored to speak about Ukraine, and would do it even without this requirement. She speaks of her homeland with great pride for its skilled people, natural beauty, and growing industry and education.

Here is a video that Ania is showing as part of her presentation. I love the soundtrack.

We knew that bringing someone from a foreign country into our lives would give us just as much as it would give the student. Just the other night, Chloe asked to watch a Russian cartoon about Gena the crocodile and Cheburashka (a small bear-looking creature) that Ania introduced us to last weekend through the magic of YouTube. Whether it's Chloe hearing Russian and Ukrainian through Skype, us planning a family trip to Ukraine one day, or even just hearing more about a special people and their continual quest to be free citizens to express themselves openly and make a good life for their families, we are learning as parents and human beings from having this experience.

Top 5 Worst Mistakes U.S. Citizens Make About Ukraine

From teenagers and adults, would you believe it:

  1. "You're from Ukraine, right? So, why are you white? Didn't your parents move there from somewhere?" (speechless...)
  2. It's Ukraine. Not The Ukraine.
  3. "Aren't you a foreign exchange student from Russia?" (she will make a face at you for this, no no no)
  4. "Is it cold all the time in Ukraine?" (no, they have all 4 seasons, it's not Siberia)
  5. "Do you celebrate Christmas in Ukraine?" (yes, Christ's birth is celebrated January 7th- 9th, but this is unrelated to the gift-giving St. Nicholas who brings children presents on Dec. 19th. They also have Father Frost, who gives presents on Jan. 1)

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