Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Some type of Russian-Ukrainian-Spanglish…
I figured it’d be appropriate to write a blog post about training. This is like a Peace Corps boot camp and has surely been living up to its name. First of all we are in 4 hours of language class a day, where we are learning all about the Russian language. Not only does the Russian language use the Cyrillic alphabet, which barely resembles our familiar Latin letters, it also has a very complex grammar system. Instead of having hundreds of words to describe feelings, emotions, genders, etc. (like English) the Russian language uses conjugations of verbs and adds specific endings onto nouns to give the speaker an idea of who the speaker is, who the subject is, if it’s formal or informal, and many other complex scenarios.
It is funny how the brain works. When we are learning new words, we play games or use visuals so that our minds have something to associate with. We have all been experiencing the same funny issue when we are forced to think quickly. Our minds are quickly trying to think of the Russian word, but then our mouths spit out a Spanish word. This has been happening multiple times a day to each of us. And then to make it even more comical, our language teacher Natasha is also a certified Spanish teacher, so she can laugh along with us as well! After long hours of language class we still have Cultural, Technical, Health/Safety, special field trips and many other events that we must fit into our schedule each week. When we finally retreat home each day we are greeted with words upon words of some kind of Ukrainian/Russian gibberish. Since the official country language is now Ukrainian (since 1992) and the old official language was Russian, almost every citizen speaks both or a mixture of the two (they call this mixed language: Soozhik). It just makes the whole process a bit more confusing because although our families understand our newly learned “proper Russian”, they all speak a mixture of the two languages, making it even more difficult to understand their conversations. Though you can eventually learn both, Peace Corps Trainees are chosen to learn one of these languages according to where our permanent sites will be. Since I was chosen for Russian, I will most likely be in the East, the South, or one of themajor cities.
These long stressful days have made for some really funny conversations of Russian, Ukrainian, English and Spanish. I am already feeling as though I’m forgetting English words and replacing them with Russian, Spanish or some mixture of the two because there is a point each day when it honestly hurts to think! I now know why volunteers consider this a “boot camp”, but can honestly say that there’s no place I’d rather be right now.
The picture is of all the volunteer's in my cluster and we all live in the same village. From left to right... Connor, Amy, Kim, me and John.