What an amazing day.
It started with an 8 am pickup in front of our hotel. The four of us, Michael myself, Lisa Weilminster for IREX Washington DC and Michael Kuban for the Department of State all set off for a small village school in the town of Borispil.
We arrived early only to find that the school staff were very nervous about our visit and asked that we wait outside until they were ready. As it was beautiful out this was no problem. We walked around and actually found that the village playground was a free wifi spot. As wifi had been out in our hotel for several days we took this opportunity to get online and let everyone know that we were alive.
We went into the school and met with the principal. The school has just 12 students in grades first through fourth. They all go to school together, in some respects it is a lot like a Montessori style education.
The kids were not ready so we went to the little museum. Most schools have a museu room where they show off ethnic culture and handicrafts. This village has one man who after retiring for the military began to chronicle the life of the village. His museum was amazing. It had artifacts from the tenth century through items dug up after World War Two. He had spent three years creating a hand drawn map of the village with every house and with information on the inhabitants in the houses. He had info on every person who had been born I the village going back to 1750. It was incredible.
Following the museum visit, the students were ready.
On this day they were celebrating the coming of spring. It was a school tradition to recite poetry, do dances and sing about birds and springtime. They build a birdhouse each year and hang it in their yard as a final activity. We watched their dances and helped in the hanging of the birdhouse. We were also treated to a ladies choral group that danced in regional clothes and sang folk songs. Video to follow!
We then had a most amazing thing happen. The kids went how and we went outside to let the teachers prepare lunch. Outside three people in military outfits walked up to us. They were Cossacks and leaders of. Cossack youth group similar in nature to boy and Girl Scouts. They were also invited to lunch.
Lunch was an incredible amount of food and drink. Here at lunch we learned about mandatory toasts. The first toast is to health the second toast is to friendship. Everyone at the table is expected to make a toast and then a final toast 'on the horse' is given as you are leaving. As 2pm approached we made our departure and raced back to the school for our farewell concert.
The school concert was amazing.
The audience was waiting
The opening lines
Ukrainian folk dances and songs
There was folk music on the Bandura.
There was a singing contest between several ukrainian students and the four. Yes, we sang one stage and did credible renditions of 'take me out to the ballpark', 'Yankee doodle dandy', 'I'm a little teapot' and 'Itsy bitsy spider'. They said we won but I am sure the competition was fixed! If video of this comes my way I will post it…
The concert ran for at least two hours and was incredible. We were very sorry when it was over and we had to leave our adopted school.