Another Year Ends, Looking Forward Now

by Danny Zawacki

It’s been a year now since I last looked back. I think I’ve come a long way, both physically and mentally. Any year I can say that is a good year, if you ask me.

In the first half of the year, I spent much of my time working with students to prepare them for their English competitions. It was also my last full semester as a teacher in Ukraine. I think it was also where I really got into my groove in teaching. Hell, we even managed to buy a few cases of books to make teaching and learning English easier at the Konotop Gymnasia. I can’t think about that project without being even a bit proud.

I spent much of February on the train. It was the worst month to do so due to the cold but I needed to be in the office often for Peace Corps things and because I lost my debit card. Trust me, I’ll never willingly put myself in a situation where I need to ride a Ukrainian train that much at that time of the year again.

In March, I traveled to Spain. There I discovered why I shouldn’t be the only guy in a travelling group. I also drank a healthy amount of sangria and learned that tapas is really nothing special. I also met and fell in love with Betty. It’s a shame that she’ll never know and I doubt I’ll ever see her again.

In April, my parents visited. I had a chance to show them what I’ve done, dealing with, and enjoying. While it was a short visit, I think it was one of the most important times in my Peace Corps service for both me and them. A little over a month later, my sister came and visited. She was greeted with a little more fanfare than I remember receiving, and I only resent that a bit. It was her first trip outside of the States and I think it was a good choice because she came in with no expectations planted by other countries. I really enjoyed playing tour guide for her and powered through a mean cold to make sure she enjoyed every minute of her time.

In May, Jeramie and I became the only Americans left in Konotop. It was weird being the “old guard” and being surrounded by everyone who’d be here longer than us.

Over the summer, I relaxed and enjoyed my last summer in Ukraine. I went to baseball camp and Camp Excite. I enjoyed the uneventfulness of it all. Even in August when Jeramie left Konotop for half the month to travel across Russian on train, I enjoyed myself. At the same time I minded, I didn’t mind much that I missed my flight to Germany. It was a learning experience.

September brought the final months of teaching and the onslaught of end of service processes from Peace Corps. I went into school each day intending to give it my all, not wanting to leave thinking I could have done more. It exhausted me and helped me cope with leaving.

In October, I had my last Ukrainian haircut. I also finally had the time to trek out to the West of Ukraine to visit Andy. I’m terrible at travelling, I tell you.

November was a blur of farewells, goodbyes, and adieus. It was stressed packing. It was squeezing in every moment I could with friends I might not see for a very long time. Then it became the opposite overnight. I surprised my family by coming home earlier than I told them I would (a plan which had been in the works for a year). I visited friends and family, long-lost. I ate and ate and ate. I set out to apply for three jobs a day and succeeded in landing work eventually in December. Since then, I’ve worked more than I’ve ever worked and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a steady job, but the future is always up in the air.

Resolutions? Me?? Just what are you implying? That I need to change? Well, buddy, as far as I'm concerned, I'm perfect the way I am!

Resolutions? Me?? Just what are you implying? That I need to change? Well, buddy, as far as I’m concerned, I’m perfect the way I am!

So what of the next year? I’m not one for resolutions, but I do have things I want to accomplish.

  • I want to keep in better contact with people
  • When I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to follow through with it
  • I’m going to take risks and do what I want to do
  • I’m going to finish one novel and start a second
  • I’m going to stop worrying about the past, present, and future. Things will happen as they’ve always happened and I’ll deal with it as it comes.
  • I’m going to live for me and do things I’ve wanted to do for years but haven’t due to different circumstances

This list is open for revisions and I might decide that one or all the items are silly and need to be pulled off the list. We’ll see.

What are you going to try to accomplish this year?