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Галина Кожушко (1957)

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Дата реєстрації: 2013-08-26 15:16:10
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My U.S. Journal 2002
This diary speaks volumes about my incredible adventures and memorable experiences of 2002 and their influence on my present-day life amidst the 2020 lockdown. Here is my journal I kept during my internship at one of the U.S. universities, which contains only real events of the summer 2002.

Sunday, June 23, 2002
It was the first night at Embassy Suites after our arrival. We couldn't sleep for long because of the time zone difference (as we learned afterward, a special term for that is “jet lag”, but how on earth could we know this). I was eager to make a phone call home, but we failed to do this: something was wrong with the code. The telephone ate six quarters – and no result. At least I could send an e-mail with Maryna’s help (Maryna Pervova, a teacher from Mykolaiv, was my roommate during our stay in the U.S.A.).
After breakfast, we had a presentation and some activities: we worked in small groups (six teachers in each one) with the only purpose to be better acquainted with each other. Some teachers of our group were from Georgia and Armenia (Madina and Marianna). Then we took our bags with lunch and water and went by bus on a tour of Washington, DC. We visited Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials as well as Korean War and Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. We saw the Washington Monument, the Capitol, White House and many museums of the Smithsonian Group: the Natural History Museum, the Museum of the American History, the American Art Gallery, the Botany Garden, and the Museum of African Art. We could see that they started the construction of the Museum of American Indians.
We also saw the monument devoted to the last Afro-American slave (with Lincoln) and the monument to some Afro-American educator giving her heritage to a young boy and a girl.
Our guide was Jennifer, a young and energetic woman. We were very hot, but she continued to explain everything to us with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.
I learned a lot of new facts about Jefferson (for example, that he was a contradictory person: he was against slavery but owned slaves himself). At the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, we took pictures near the waterfalls and on the background of various statues: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair, and the other one, depicting Roosevelt alongside his dog Fala.
After the tour, we were supposed to go to the Panevino restaurant at our hotel to have dinner (again in small groups). Before that, I was lucky enough to call my family. The menu was not very varied: Caesar salad, soup, chicken, salmon and ice cream. I ordered soup, roasted salmon with potato and olives, and chocolate ice cream. (Ten years later, I enjoyed reading the book “What Caesar Did to My Salad?” In 2002, the name of the salad sounded “Greek” to me, so I did not order it, just in case.) The portions were huge, and I could not eat everything that was on the plate, no matter how tasty the food was.
We sat at a table with two young Georgian teachers, and they told us many interesting facts about their country (we could not believe that their monthly salary was equal to 10 U.S. dollars). Then something very funny happened. During our conversation, I switched from Russian to Ukrainian, having forgotten that we were sitting with Georgians. Nino Dondoladze listened to me with a puzzled look for a long time and then pronounced, “Oh, I got it! You are speaking Ukrainian. Thank God! Because I thought I stopped understanding Russian!”
After dinner, I was extremely tired, but Maryna insisted on going to the swimming pool, so I surrendered and reluctantly went there. However, it turned out nice. First, we sat in a whirlpool, and then had a short swim; but the water in the swimming pool seemed too cold for us, and we ran back to the whirlpool.
So much as for our first Sunday on the American soil, for Green Sunday of 2002 (in the west of Ukraine, we have a special name for Trinity – Green Holiday). God, help me to overcome all difficulties!

Monday, June 24, 2002
It started with early breakfast. At 8:30 a.m., we went to Jurys Hotel to attend pre-orientation presentations. We listened to Dr. Dan E. Davidson, President of the American Council for International Education. (A Comparativist Perspective on U.S. and Russian/Eurasian Academic Cultures: New Empirical Data for Some Long-Standing Questions). Mr. Davidson compared Russian and American attitude toward such notions as Motherland, Care, Upbringing, Help, and Competition. The roots of this difference lie in such inherent features of the American character as individualism and self-reliance.
Then we listened to Kevin Spensey, and I liked one of his similes in which he compares a cultural shock to the situation when a soccer player comes on the field with a hockey stick and stands there at a loss, feeling that all his previous experience is useless at the moment. Honestly, I felt exactly the same way during my first days in the U.S.A.
After this, Lisa Choate told us about cultural adjustment and about the salaries and expenses of typical Americans. We were asked to choose one topic for our imaginary lesson if we happened to leave the U.S.A. next day (I suggested “American Hospitality as It Is”).
After break, we worked in small groups. We were to guess likes and dislikes our group members had, find the proof for that and then find out if it was true or not. Our Armenians spoke Russian too often, and our male colleagues reprimanded them for that.
We walked back to Embassy Suites. It was terribly hot. Julia Whitelock (an amiable American girl of Asian descent) led us to the hotel; it was a 15-minute walk from the Jurys. Julia also showed us how to use the metro. By the way, we had lunch at Jurys Hotel, thus, when back at Embassy Suites I only wanted to have some rest. Well, I did have it, but not so quickly. Maryna made me go downstairs to drink juice and eat some chips at the atrium area. (It was Happy Hour when one can have free meal and drinks). I didn’t drink any cocktails, but our boys will surely be spoiled by all these free drinks.
Now Maryna has gone for a walk, and I am all by myself writing down these daily impressions.
At night, our three male teachers who were violently knocking on the door awakened us: they wanted to know what souvenirs we were going to donate for the common good. We were very angry and did not want to talk to them. Weird questions in the wee hours of the night!

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Again at the Jurys Hotel. The first lecture on American education system was dull. The next one was better (Andrew Rotherham spoke on teachers’ quality, testing and funding schools). We worked in small groups and then we had lunch at this hotel. After lunch, we went by bus to Thomas Jefferson Science and Technology School. It was impressive! A lot of specialized classrooms, a huge gym, two music rooms with complete sets of instruments (for an orchestra and for a band), a large computer class. They teach four languages: Spanish, French, Russian and Latin. I spoke with a Spanish teacher, Linda, who gave me a Spanish textbook and a workbook. Now I know how to ask in Spanish, What is your name? – Como se llama Usted? Yo me llamo Galina. She was surprised when I sang two Spanish songs for her and said she had never heard them before.
After this we went by bus to Arlington Cemetery where we saw President Kennedy’s grave. His wife and two children (who died at their birth) are buried near him too. We also saw the changing of the guards, an extremely picturesque sight.
Some of us stayed longer at the cemetery to listen to the Military Band concert. But I was really tired, so a small group of us went by metro to the Embassy Suites Hotel. We didn’t know properly how to buy the metro card but we managed to learn quickly on the spot. After two stops, we got off at the Foggy Bottom Station. On our way “home,” we saw the famous Carlton-Ritz Hotel and posh limousines in front of it.
Beautiful life! However, the heat in DC is unbearable! Yesterday it was +36 and today it is even hotter. The air is humid and, as they put it, unhealthy.
Back at our hotel, I went to Happy Hour and had some chips and juice as well as some fresh fruit. Et maintenant je suis parfaitment satisfait. By the way, yesterday we were photographed at Jurys and they promised to give us pictures by the end of the week.
So many impressions for a person who hasn’t traveled for ages! To be continued…