Friday, August 06, 2004

I tried putting up a big post yesterday, but it got swallowed into the ether. Save me the advice about how not to let that happen. I have to learn from my own mistakes somehow.

Anyway, I think it will be better to break up what I wnted to say into several posts and expand a bit on them. The general topic is "what I learned over the last two weeks." Sounds like an 11th grade paper, doesn't it? I don't think it is possible to organize these in any coherent way, but if you were looking for coherence, you wouldn't have come to my site in the first place.

My first lesson from Ukraine is that american don't know the meaning of the word "creative." In the seven days we were at the camp in the Carpathians, we must have seen forty to fifty skits performed, most of them written that same day. The skits often involved handmade props and ad hoc decorated signs. We also saw several puppet shows (there were a number of kids present), had a cake decorating contest, made table decorations, and had one night where people had to illustrate bible verses in their hair.

This isn't all be any means. The dining hall was heavily decorated. There was a contest for best door decorations for our dorm rooms. There was a "scret angel" program--just like "secret santa"--but I felt woefully behind as I gave my person only four gifts while I received about a dozen. Woefully behind is how our whole team felt throughout the week as we watched folks shouting out chants during meals--some sort of four line iambic version of "bon appetite" in Ukrainian, rendered by the teen crowd, spawning further counter rhymes by the other tables.

I think perhaps the process of the destruction of the western mind by tv and other media is much closer to completetion than I had realized. The response we got for our meagre efforts to participate in all of this seemed much like how our beginning level English teachers would respond to their students. "Wow. You are doing great! In no time you'll learn how to write your own skits. Just keep at it. In a few years, with hard work and some luck, perhaps we won't even be able to tell you are americans."

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