This past week I have realized how comfortable with my surroundings I am at this point. My family no longer babies me through daily tasks like boiling my own eggs, making my own tea, or going to the store to buy bread for the house. I may not know every bus route to perfection (because there are a million different ones), but I know the city well enough to risk taking any bus I think goes near the general vicinity of where I live and making it work. I know which grocery stores I can go to for which products, and I am a regular at this internet café. I am able to walk through the centre and recognize some people from the university, and even able to scrape by some basic conversations without one trace of my trusty dictionary.
As far as the internat work goes… this too is really picking up. While I do not know ALL of the names of the girls, I am making strong headway. Learning names is difficult because many girls are non-verbal, others have speech impediments, and there are also many diminutives for each name such that while I may have thought one girls' name was Ira, Jen knows the same girl as Irka, and Miri knows her as Irenka. This past week we have gotten a few of our plans underway, one of these being theme-day Thursdays. What we intended to be an animal-themed day… turned out to be make-up mania. We wanted to paint animal faces on the girls to compliment the animal puppets and animal crafts, however, the girls went so nuts over the make-up nothing else seemed necessary. In the end we had a blast with all of the girls young and old outside all day. A few of these pictures are below.
Also, one girl worth mentioning is a “major” in the house whom we refer to as Alina-boss. She has a lot of personality, and a marked leader amongst the girls. She knows the ins and outs of everything, is VERY helpful with all of our plans, and also respected by the girls. When a younger girl acts out of line… Alina-boss will handle the situation for us, when we are planning the excursion for a few of the girls… Alina-boss is organizing a worker to come along and helping us pick girls who get along. She is pictured below with Miri on our make-up day, and is truly a gem. I will also mention my amazingly long day at the dacha yesterday. The dacha, as a reminder, is a plot of land typically outside the main city where families grow fruits, vegetables and flowers. My family said we would spend our Saturday there, and I did not realize the extent to which they really meant this. I expected to be there for four or five hours… but instead spent from 11am-9pm gardening like it would never end. They seemed very impressed with my work and kept telling me to slow down, but I felt like if I went any slower I would be moving backwards. A good chunk of the day was also spent moving a pile of rocks (BY HAND ONLY) from one spot to another so that they could build a fence where the rock pile once lay. To my dismay, all my hard work clearly reasoned in their minds that I deserved to eat A LOT of food… so at 9pm I got home to a feast (no luck in trying to work off any of the carbs and oil I’ve been stuffing my face with lately!). Below are some pictures from our day.