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"the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance"

Hi there, my name is Hayley, and I'm a journalist. Eminem sings songs about me. This one time, I held a penguin. No big.

in spring of 2011, i went to Italy for a while. and lo, the great study abroad saga of florence, starring gelato, paninis, and some dude named michelangelo, was born.

now that I've graduated college, i'm fulfilling a high-school promise to myself to go work in a fishing village in the southern northern hemisphere that has no phones; you can now find me in ukraine, stumbling my way through the peace corps with exactly zero Russian to my name. Wish me luck!

Disclaimer: I am using this blog to express my own personal opinions. It is not meant to represent the views of the Peace Corps or of the United States Government.


15 April 14

Alright, time to look at the future

As of this Monday, I am no longer a Ukrainian TEFL PCV (to numb the pain and mark our last night as volunteers a bunch of us pcv’s got drunk together on google hangouts and counted down to midnight EST, made it less depressing). So, as my mother has been asking me non-stop for the last three weeks: now what?

After a fair amount of soul searching, I’ve decided that there’s nothing in the world I want to do more than Peace Corps right now (provided that National Geographic doesn’t pop out of the woodwork and offer me a job in the next month). With that in mind, I decided to re-enroll.

The Peace Corps has given me a few options this time around, so now it’s a toss-up between Samoa, Rwanda and Mozambique. Rwanda and Mozambique both have a TEFL program, so I’d be doing the same thing I did in Ukraine, but Samoa has a literacy program (which sounds super cool to me). For now, I’ve told them that I’d prefer Samoa, but nothing is set in stone until I sort through the MASSIVE amount of paperwork required to officially finish my service in Ukraine. No matter what country I end up in I won’t be leaving until around August/September.

Given the awkward amount of free time I now have, I’ve decided to get a job as a film extra, because basically it’s either this or babysitting and quite frankly it’d be nice to have a break from working with kids for like five minutes. I’m already registered with Central Casting and I can start work immediately, woo hoo! The basic gist of it (from what I can tell) is that it’s going to be excruciatingly boring but it’ll pay OK, involves little to no training or prior experience, and I can work on a case-by-case basis where no one will care if I suddenly have to pack up and move to Africa. Sounds like the perfect filler employment to me!

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my life! I’ll keep you guys updated about the whole “extra” thing (hopefully it’ll be interesting enough to fill the void until the Peace Corps sends me somewhere new). Hope y’all are having a good week!

Tags: [ ukraine ] [ next steps ] [ peace corps ]
9 April 14

до побачення

so, i know i haven’t written a lot lately, but that’s mostly because there’s nothing i really want to say. this has turned me into a bear of a person to be around because every time someone asks me the extremely reasonable question of “so what are you going to do now?” i just about bite their heads off. makes me a super fun person to live with, let me tell you.

That having been said: They officially announced that the Peace Corps Ukraine program will be closing on April 14th.

even though we all knew it was coming and thought we were braced for it, this decision still felt like something of a sucker punch. it sucks. it is a world of suck. the suckiest part was probably telling my counterpart, who was still so sure that we were coming back, not unlike i was. i feel like the worst person on the planet even though none of it was even remotely within my control.

i’ve started the process for re-instating in the fall, because i took a good look around and saw nothing else that i want to do more than peace corps, but for right now i’d like to just have a moment of silence for Ukraine and for the country’s future; it might not include us but i know it’s going to be bright.

Слава Україні

Героям Слава

27 March 14

How am I keeping myself busy during evacuation? By working on a new video project! Here’s a preview snippet for you to oogle :)

I’m working in collaboration with other PCV’s and my counterpart back in Ukraine in order to put together an English language video series on a variety of topics (family, around town, pets, school, friends) that will cover vocab and different grammar rules. We’re also going to put together scripts and quizzes to accompany the videos, and then my counterpart will share them with her colleagues and other schools in my town! Of course I’ll share them with any TEFL teacher who’s interested as well.

Since just having me talk into a camera sounds boring and dull, other PCV’s are lending a hand by filming stuff, sending it to me, and then I splice it in. My buddy Greg just sent me a video of his very fat cat and her favorite chair that I’m working on right now :P

I’m really excited about this, even though it’s a LOT more work than I envisioned at first. If you want to help out - show parts of America that are not just me and my backyard - shoot me a message!

25 March 14

Now what?

I’ve been avoiding blogging because a) this is primarily a Peace Corps blog, and right now I’m in this weird limbo where I’m kind of… not… Peace Corps…? ish? and b) honestly, just thinking about thinking about the future is an incredibly stressful endeavor at this point. But the news isn’t getting any better, and I’ve had a couple weeks to process, so let’s talk about options for an evacuated PCV!

  1. Quit. The technical term is “early COS,” i.e. “close of service,” meaning regardless of how long you spent in Ukraine, you can end your time with the Peace Corps with no black marks on your record (normally, if you quit before your 27 months are up, you “early terminate” and you don’t get things like letters of rec or benefits). I know some people have done this already but it’s not really on my radar.
  2. Transfer. Right now, all us evacuees are on “administrative hold,” which is a fancy term for “wait and see.” I can decide right now that I don’t want to hold out for Ukraine - I want to get on the next possible flight out to a different Peace Corps post, and start my 27 months over in a new country. This - switching locales while still technically an active volunteer - is called transferring. 
  3. Re-enroll. After April 14th (with a possible 15-day extension, but we’ll say April 14th for now), our admin hold ends, and if they decide to suspend the program then we all automatically COS. From here, I can choose to apply to another posting in another country, and I’ll still get preferential placement - the only difference between this and Transferring is that I’m not still an active PCV. This is the most appealing for me because I refuse to go anywhere while there is even the slightest chance that we can return to Ukraine.
  4. Reinstate. Say April 14th rolls around, Ukraine is still too volatile, they suspend the program and COS all of us. Tragic. But a few months roll by and Ukraine stabilizes (Russia backs off, elections are held, however you want to quantify this) - the Peace Corps can call us in like, December, and offers us the chance to go back! To our original sites! We don’t even have to start our 27 months over! Reinstatement can take place for up to one year after the program is suspended. It’s awesome in theory, but I unfortunately can’t wait around that long. 
  5. Partial redeployment. I’m using the word “deploy” because “reinstate” already refers to something else. Basically, the East is at an uneasy impasse. Crimea is off-limits altogether. But the western part of Ukraine - think Odessa, Lviv, the Carpathians - is pretty much stable! Woo! There is a possibility that we will be sent back to Ukraine, only all the Crimean and Eastern TEFL volunteers (including myself) will be relocated to the West, where security isn’t so much of an issue. PC has already established that there are enough schools with positions for us. I would be ALL over this because, barring standfast, I could still go work at my old school in Donestkaya over the summer and visit my kids! The downside is that I would probably have to learn Ukrainian somehow.
  6. Everything works out fine and we all go right back where we belong. You can perhaps understand why I am somewhat skeptical of our chances on this one.

I think that’s everything! Right now I’m praying for #6, preparing for #3, and keeping my fingers crossed for #5. I wish I could do Peace Corps Response (which is also an option) but alas, with my mere 7 months in Ukraine I am grossly under-qualified. 

Hope you’re all having lovely weeks!

7 March 14

khaleesi-housetargaryen asked: Hi! My name is Lexi. Im a senior in high school now and have no idea what I want to do with my life. All I know is that I want to travel and I feel like the peace corp would be a great eye opener. It is pretty much the one thing I am certain that I eventually want to do. I was just wondering if you had any tips or explanation on how joining peace corp actually works. One major concern I had was how do you afford joining? Sorry for bothering you and thank you for your time!

Hey Lexi! This is kind of cool because my senior year of high school, I was you. So yay, dreams do come true! This is the good news.

If you want some information about the application process - how to beef up your resume so Peace Corps thinks you look good, what applying actually entails - I’ve got an application process tag that’s pretty exhaustive. You can also look on the “How Do I Become a Volunteer?" part of the Peace Corps website for some more tips. Check it out!

As to how I afforded it, more good news: the Peace Corps is free! The bad news is: Mostly.

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Posted: 1:55 AM

Aw, guys, thank you so much for all your messages! They put a huge smile on my face. I don’t know how I got such lovely followers, but seriously, I really needed something of a pick-me-up. 

It’s a pretty rough time in a PCV’s life and I’ve neglected you all horribly, but now that I’ve broken the posting seal, so to speak, I plan on writing a heck of a lot more. I won’t let you down! AUGH YOU’RE ALL SO GREAT I LOVE YOU

Tags: [ ask me ] [ ask ]
Posted: 1:37 AM

whinyprincess asked: Hi, my sister is a pcv who was evacuated from ukraine, I'm assuming you were also evacuated. I was wondering if you could give me tips on how to make her feel better and more at home. She seems numb and I want to understand what shes going through.

This is an amazing question, and you are an amazing sister. And you’re absolutely right - if she’s anything like me, then she is feeling a little numb, and there are reasons for that.

As much as you go through culture shock upon your arrival in Ukraine, you go through something similar when you come back called: “reverse culture shock.” 

Basically you have to get used to the United States all over again (the pace of life, the way people interact with one another, radically different living conditions, etc.) and it can just as tough as acclimating to life in Ukraine, if not worse. You’ve changed and you don’t quite fit anymore. That, combined with the blunt-force-trauma way that we all departed and our current state of utter uncertainty, can add up to a pretty rough emotional rollercoaster. Not fun!

This is just my experience, based on what I’m going through right now, but here’s five things to consider that I think might help her out:

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6 March 14




I watched this 4 minute video about how reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone park literally changed everything about the park and just sat there for another two minutes, mouth open and teary eyed and amazed. Definitely worth a watch. 

the world is awesome.

This made me teary eyed as well. It’s amazing.

Reblogged: prosodi

Posted: 7:23 PM

A glossary of 32 words, phrases, people and places you should probably know when following Ukraine’s crisis


Okay. The crisis in Ukraine has been going on for a while now, and things have gotten a little confusing. Whether you are a newcomer to the crisis and you want to catch up, or you have been following the situation for the past few months, we figured a quick glossary of the words, phrases, people and places involved would be appreciated.

For more on Ukraine’s crisis, check out our Q+A from January, our history of Crimea and our 486-word rundown of recent events.

  • Anti-protest laws: Measures Viktor Yanukovych passed Jan. 16 designed to limit protests. Dubbed the “Dictatorship Laws" by protesters, they led to a new level of violence in the Euromaidan protests and were repealed by parliament two weeks later.
  • Berkut: Descended from an elite force in Soviet times, the Berkut were riot police who operated under the Interior Ministry. At the center of much of the violence with Euromaidan protesters, they were disbanded on February 26. There have been reports that Russia is giving out passports to ex-Berkut officers.
  • Black Sea Fleet: A Russian naval unit based in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol in Crimea. It’s not a particularly powerful force. It consists of an aging guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva; a large, dated anti-submarine warfare cruiser; a destroyer; two frigates; landing ships; and a diesel-powered attack submarine. Yanukovych and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reached a deal to extend the lease on facilities in Crimea until 2042 in exchange for a discounted deal for natural gas.
  • The Budapest Memorandum: An agreement in 1994 that saw Russia, the United States and Great Britain agree to recognize the “independence and sovereignty” of Ukraine in exchange for it giving up its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggests now that this agreement is void, as Ukraine is no longer the same state it was in 1994.
  • Crimea: A peninsula jutting into the northern tip of the Black Sea. This strategically-located region has been  fought over many times over the course of its complicated history. Long a part of Russia, it was given to Ukraine in 1954 and, despite an ethnic Russian majority, a post-Soviet independence movement and a good dose of autonomy, it is still technically Ukrainian. However, for the past few days, what some say are Russian soldiers (and others say are armed militia) have been on the peninsula, surrounding Ukrainian military bases. They, and some of Crimea’s residents, say the region rejects the post-Maidan government and wants to become part of Russia.
  • Crimean War: A three-year war that started in 1853 and ended up with Russia keeping Crimea even though it lost the war. Russia fought an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia over disputes involving the Middle East and religion. It’s widely considered the beginning of modern warfare.
  • Crimean Tatars: A Sunni Muslim, Turkic ethnic group that has been in Crimea since before it became part of Russia. Notably, the entire population was deported  to Central Asia as punishment for collaboration with German forces during World War II. Since 1991, they have been coming back in droves: By Ukraine’s last census in 2001, they were said to make up 12 percent of the population. As you might imagine, they are said to be anti-Russian and largely supportive of the Euromaidan protests. NB: It’s Tatar, not Tartar.
  • The demographic split: To put this very simply, thanks to a complicated history, Ukraine can broadly be split between a Ukrainian-speaking West that opposed Yanukovych, and a Russian-speaking East that supported him. Some have argued that this is an oversimplification (most things are), but it does still seem to hold weight.
  • Euromaidan: The name given to the anti-government protests that began on Nov. 21, 2013, and eventually led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych. The name comes from the hopes of further European integration many had, and the name of their central Kiev location, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
  • "The family": The name given to Viktor Yanukovych’s immediate family and other associates who are said to have enriched themselves through corruption and nepotism.
  • "Fascists": Both Russia’s foreign ministry and Yanukovych have linked “fascist” elements to the Euromaidan protests. There is some truth to this – far-right Ukrainian nationalist groups, such as Svoboda or Pravy Sektorhave been a part of the protests. Maidan supporters, however, dispute the idea that the protests are at all dominated by these groups, and critics have accused the Kremlin of playing “political football” with (the very real threat) of antisemitism in Ukraine.

Read the rest here. 

Reblogged: washingtonpost

Tags: [ ukraine ] [ euromaidan ]
Posted: 1:00 AM

Hi friends.

I’ve been trying to make a blog post for about two weeks now, but it’s just been impossible to write. I honestly have no idea what to say.

This is such a crucial time in Ukraine’s development as a nation and as a culture… I am so, so proud of my friends and colleagues and adoptive families, and I worry for them as well. This could go so many ways. I was in the deep East, Donetskaya Oblast, only a short hour from Russia, and I hear now of tanks on the border and demonstrations in Donetsk and Kharkiv - this is not exactly calming.

The short story is that all the Peace Corps Ukraine volunteers were evacuated. It was all very hush-hush, we’re all still kind of reeling, and right now no one knows if we will be able to go back or not. We’re stuck in limbo for 45 days while they figure that out. One inspiring thing, though, is that every person I have talked to wants to go back, desperately so - in fact, regardless of the current situation in Ukraine, if we could get someone to sign off on it we’d probably all be on planes back over there now.

Tl;dr: I am in California, and I am safe. My Ukrainian friends do not have that guarantee. This is still really hard to write about, and other people have done it better, but I’ll give it a shot in the next couple of weeks. I think that just getting something on the page is achievement enough for now.

I will go ahead, however, and post this little snippet of something that another PCV said:

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Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh