i’ve been in ukraine for 1.5 years now. which is a long time, just long enough to where i’ve come to foolishly think of embarrassing language mistakes as my unlearned days of past. i picked up the language much faster than i ever thought i could, quickly learning that ‘to write’ and ‘to pee’ sound almost the same…but still as any new language learner, i’ve made my fair share of mistakes throughout service and just laughing along the way. but it’s been a while since i can remember REALLY making a fool of myself by the ukrainian/russian that comes out of my mouth.
well, okay. i take that back. i just remembered last weekend telling my landlord i was leaving and would be back on sunday…except the ukrainian form of sunday couldn’t dislodge itself from my brain. the french word was on the tip of my tongue and like a bad taste it just wouldn’t go away. i stood there stuttering thinking ‘GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER BRAIN!’ and come up with the right word. but no, my landlord though of it first. and probably came to the conclusion that i was clearly an idiot. ha.
okay so beeeeesides that one time, i don’t remember many other recent embarrassing language fails…now i’m thinking there are many more instances i just blocked from my memory. but anyways nothing recently has embarrassed me as much as what i said today.
after my lessons were taught for the day i sat outside with a book and enjoyed the nice ‘quick — it’s going to be hella freezing soon’ weather. as i sat there my school director (principal) walked over to chat with me. she’s a white haired, no, more like translucent platinum haired older woman with a slight hunch and a warm face always graced with a smile and her signature lavender lip liner.
after we chit chatted about this and that i went to compliment her on her new dress. in ukraine, it’s not uncommon to only have a few outfits. it’s completely acceptable to wear the same thing twice, three times, a whole week, and for one teacher — a whole semester. no joke. i don’t mind this at all. especially when you have to do the laundry by hand, why get more clothes dirty? anyways, i noticed my director was sporting something different than her usual and went to say ‘your outfit is beautiful’. i knew the words. they played out in my head, i could visualize them. but for some reason, despite my 1.5 years in country, what actually came out of my mouth translated to ‘YOUR BODY IS BEAUTIFUL’.
thankfully she didn’t laugh, instead she simply said ‘thanks’, probably figuring what i meant. it wasn’t till after she walked away that i realized what i had just i earnestly proclaimed to the director of my school. i knew what i should have said, but who knows what happened in the firing of that brain signal. apparently i have subconscious hotts for my director. but who knows, maybe she appreciated the compliment. it’s not everyday someone says you’ve got a hott body. i think everyone could use a little mistranslating like that.
in other news, i finally had my first english club at my new school. since last semester didn’t work out due to scheduling, i was determined to make it work this year — older grades club on tuesday and younger kids on wednesday. it’s been kind of a buzz kill that nobody came to my first week of club, but that’s poor advertising on my part. and this week, despite none of the older kids showing up, the younger kids and i had a blast.
i was so thrilled that eight kids showed up from the 6th form. we didn’t even really do much, played the picnic name game and tossed a plush banana around for ‘the question game’. they don’t know much english (at all) so i’m thankful for my (sometimes shoddy) language skills. i was worried i didn’t ‘wow’ them enough into coming back but when time came to end, they didn’t want to leave, and they simply couldn’t wait for next week. it was such a feeling beyond all else to see kids excited about learning english and having fun at it too.
at the end of the club, i mentioned planning a small halloween party for them, filled with candy, costumes, and pumpkin carving. they seemed happier than american kids on christmas day, it was adorable. i’m probably just as excited as they are. that is if i don’t think about the logistics of a handful of kids and sharp knives…well…maybe they can just draw faces with marker.
also, this is TOO GOOD not to share. i almost couldn’t finish my oatmeal this morning i was laughing so hard. even if you’re not a volunteer, i think you’ll find some humor in it and a window into this life. it’s funny to realize just how universal peace corps experiences seem to be.