Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Stories from Ukraine-McGrew, RPCV

Hi, my name is Jake McGrew and I just joined BARPCV. I was sent to Ukraine in September as part of the TEFL program. My training site was a very small town called Kozelets, which was an hour away from Kyiv (and Chernobyl..) and I was living with a single mother who had a son my age who was married and living in Kyiv. My host mom (Natasha) was the "cool mom" and had a facebook and everything. I loved running at the nearby stadium with her every night, even when it started snowing in late November. Around this time is when the EuroMaidan protests began, but even being an hour away our town was unaffected, until swearing-in. We actually had to be sworn-in a day early because we didn't know if we would be able to safely make it to the Embassy. We might be the only PC training group that was sworn-in twice, because the next day we were able to make it to the Embassy. While there, I had the great opportunity to play the Ukrainian national anthem to a chorus of 50+ Ukrainians. Because of the timing with EuroMaidan, it was extremely powerful to me. After swearing-in, I rode the train with my new counterpart to Volodymyr-Volynskyi in Northwest Ukraine (on the Polish border). I loved my apartment, my town, my colleagues, and especially my students. I even had the opportunity to love Ukrainian hospitals since I had the great luck to have appendicitis on (American) Christmas Day. Because of the dangerous political climate, we were suddenly evacuated at the end of February, making my service only 7 months long (for now). I have high hopes that Ukraine will reopen in the next few months and I will have the opportunity to return to my Ukrainian family. Until then, I continue to speak with all of my Ukrainians (RM, TCF, LCF, host mom, colleagues, students, etc.) and speak with American classes/ implement WWS from this end. Слава Україні! (Glory to Ukraine)

(For a much longer story, my blog can be found at

By Anna - Posted on 16 June 2014

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