One Week Later: English Language Summer Camp in Dnepropetrovsk
Published on June 12, 2012 by Matthew Feinberg
The first week of camp has been amazing! Tuesday morning we all went to the courtyard at the school for the Opening Ceremony. The students were all very excited to meet us and welcome us into their school. While the students spent their morning learning Torah and English, we were planning fun activities for the afternoon. All the kids really enjoyed playing name games and telling us about their family. Right after camp ended, we went to the Menorah Center for a tour. Zelig led the tour and told us all about the history of the Golden Rose Synagogue and the different types of shops that the Menorah Center will contain. The plan is to have a portion of the Menorah Center completed by the beginning of September and open in October. It was an incredible experience to get this inside view of the construction of this magnificent building. On Wednesday and Thursday we went on our first camp field trip - the Botanical Gardens. Everyone had a good time learning about the different flowers and plants growing in the garden. The tour guide encouraged us to smell the roses and even let us pick a few flowers. Friday was spent learning silly songs and reviewing body parts, and I can't wait to see what happens next week!
Below, one counselor, Carrie, reflects on her time in Dnep thus far.
"I made a point of trying to come into this month with as few expectations as possible. I knew there was no way I could imagine what our experience would be like. Still, I couldn't completely ignore my overactive imagination and advice from previous counselors, so I came in with just enough preconceived notions to be prepared for some of the challenges and surprised by everything else. In order to help paint a picture of this place and our experiences, I'll tell you about a few of my expectations and a few of my surprises."
- The students at the school are cute and have a lot of energy. We have to approach our classrooms with incredible enthusiasm and repeat ourselves many times in order to be effective.
- The Kehillah Project video we watched about everything the JCRC does for Dnep was not exaggerating. Every JCRC project we have seen, from the Assisted Living Facility to the camp, has impressed me and everyone involved is incredibly thankful for the assistance the Boston Jewish Community has provided.
- I am having a wonderful time, and I feel that I am making a real difference for these kids.
- Despite the fact that the children can be a handful, every child I have spent time with individually is incredibly sweet. As a matter of fact, everyone I have met in this country has been overwhelmingly kind. One woman in the street held her hand out in front of me to make sure I didn't cross the street in front of a car, and other strangers have helped me translate. My host family goes incredibly out of their way to make sure we're happy, and my host brother loves to share his toys. Even the cats are nicer than in America; the kids here pick up stray cats by their paws, and the cats just meow in defeat.
- Ukraine has delicious falafel. We all went out to a restaurant called Jaffa for Jordi's birthday, and the falafel was impressive.
- On another culinary note, the food is much better than I expected. The stereotype in America is that people here eat potatoes and meat all year round, but my host family serves us fresh vegetables and berries from their yard every day. They also make delicious Russian pancakes.
Matthew Feinberg is a recent graduate of the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University. He coordinated the 2012 English Language Camp in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.
Carrie Watkins is currently working as a camp counselor at the English Language Camp in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.