Monday, December 7, 2009

Description of Peace Corps Service

Jesse “Josef’ Bartels

Ukraine (October 2007 – December 2009)

After a competitive application process emphasizing professional skills, motivation, adaptability, cross-cultural understanding and medical fitness, Peace Corps invited Mr. Jesse “Josef” Bartels to serve as a TEFL Volunteer in Ukraine.

Pre-service training

On October 1st, 2007, Mr. Bartels joined the 33rd group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Ukraine. He entered an intensive 12-week community-based training program that included 200 hours of Ukrainian language training, 150 hours of technical training in TEFL methodologies and community development, 8 weeks of classroom teaching practice and 60 hours of cross-cultural studies (history, economy, cultural norms).

While a trainee, Mr. Bartels worked with the Kivshovata pubic school to organize and conduct a teacher training on communicative language learning techniques and methodology. To reinforce language and cross-cultural learning, Mr. Bartels lived with a Ukrainian family in the town of Kivshovata, Kyiv Region, throughout the 3-month training.


U.S. Ambassador William B. Taylor swore in Mr. Bartels as a Peace Corps Volunteer on December 20th, 2007 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Mr. Bartels was assigned to Velyki Mosty, a town of 5000 Ukrainian and Russian speakers in Western Ukraine.

The rich plains and forests of Ukraine have witnessed almost constant struggle between competing peoples since before recorded history. Ukraine ended 750 years of foreign domination by gaining independence from the USSR in 1991. Less than 20 years later, Ukraine is behaving like any young nation. The learning curve is steep as an adolescent government attempts to remove economic controls in an effort to emulate the economic success of Western Europe. Ukrainians, however, have a mature culture and language, traced back to the Kyiv Rus. Each exploiter and occupier has strengthened Ukrainians into a people unbreakable and proud, not of their government, not of their young unsteady nation, but of whom they are, their long heritage and what their country will become as its potential is fulfilled.

Many people in Ukraine realize that a greater openness must be reached in order to achieve success in the global community. Mr. Bartels’ work as a teacher provided many opportunities to share American culture and its approaches to problem solving, authority and creativity. His work was part of a nation-wide effort in Ukraine to reorient itself toward a free and open society.

Working under the Ministry of Education, Mr. Bartels worked as a full-time English Teacher at Velyki Mosty School Lyceum, which has 88 teachers and 900 students. This school specializes in the sciences and Mr. Bartels’ work was directly supervised by the assistant principle of social sciences. He introduced American teaching methods emphasizing the communicative method to English teachers, many of whom learned English using the translation method. While teaching between 16 and 18 hours of English classes each week (TEFL), Mr. Bartels also conducted 3 pedagogical seminars and distributed informational material on communicatory methodology. Teaching 2nd-10th grades, Mr. Bartels strived to create student centered atmosphere where English was truly used as a language, to transfer information and ignite curiosity. Mr. Bartels specialized in using ‘realia’, that is to say real tasks including radio listening, website design, text message and pen pals assignments that incorporated the real life experiences of children in Velyki Mosty. He received supervision and critical feedback from the TEFL Project Lead Specialists from Peace Corps, and from the pedagogical director at the regional level. In addition to English, Mr. Bartels taught computer technology as a classroom resource to co-teachers.

As an HIV prevention educator, Mr. Bartels designed, organized and implemented an HIV prevention project which included 2 trainings of trainers and 8 peer trainings that increased youth knowledge about the biology and transmission of HIV. These peer groups in turn trained 8 other student groups which showed increased knowledge and tolerance while demonstrating a decreased propensity toward risky behavior (measured by pre and post training questionnaires). Together with his counterpart, Mr. Bartels overcame social obstacles and taboos by focusing his trainings on abstinence and faithfulness before condom use. Through the trainings, pamphlets, exercises and posters, he worked to fight against stigmas and discrimination. Mr. Bartels used a President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) grant to bring a trainer from Kyiv in order to provide local educators with the expertise and comfort necessary to safeguard their communities.

Mr. Bartels’ after school activities included 3 academic clubs that each met for 2 hours every week. These included Health, Ecology and European Affairs. Each club created a project at the end of every school year. His ecology club concentrated on project design and management. Pupils then designed and implemented 4 community projects including trash pickups and tree plantings. Mr. Bartels facilitated a two-day tolerance training with the European Affairs club for 8th-10th grades. With his Health club he taught 7 lessons about tobacco, alcohol, obesity, nutrition, household chemicals and HIV/AIDS.

As a Co-Chair of the Peace Corps Ukraine Environmental Working Group, Mr. Bartels maintained, created, collected and provided information and project support throughout Ukraine. With support from the Environmental Working Group, Mr. Bartels organized and directed 2 overnight week long summer camps teaching pupils environmental awareness through a focus on local issues to help Ukrainian youth become active, informed, initiative taking leaders in their community. He was also the American volunteer director of the ‘Survivor’ camp, a sustainable ecological education project started by Peace Corps volunteers in 2005 which is now operated mainly by Ukrainian directors and staff.

Mr. Bartels’ language ability progressed quickly reaching Advanced High by July 2009. As a result of his work in school and his language ability, he was selected by Peace Corps staff to present a report to 200 University and School Directors and to the Minister of Education on the current state of English Education in Ukraine. He gave this seven minute speech in Ukrainian and received many compliments on his language ability.

Following careful needs assessment and student surveys, Mr. Bartels Created an English Resource Library. Using book donations from the USA, he established a title list of 200 books for pupils and teachers at all levels. He also created the catalog and organizational system by which checkouts will be monitored.

Pursuant to Section 5(f) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 USC 2504(f), as amended, any former Volunteer employed by the United States Government following his Peace Corps Volunteer Service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave, and other privileges based on length of Government service. That service shall not be credited toward completion of the probationary or trial period of any service requirement for career appointment.

This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order 11103 of April 10, 1963, that Mr. Jesse Josef Bartels served successfully as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His service ended on December 2nd, 2009. He is therefore eligible to be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. This benefit under the Executive Order extends for a period of one year after termination of Volunteer service, except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning, or engages in other activities that, in the view of the appointing agency, warrant extension of the period.

Then signatures and stamps
very official looking

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Last Days

Trucking to Germany with my neighbor is not going to work out. He's leaving today and I'm still doing paperwork and eye exams in the office (looking for a some phantom opacity on the crystal that may indicate the first stage of cataracts). So I got a bus ticket, this year from Lviv to Frankfurt. Oh the fun of 27 hour bus rides.
So, today and tomorrow in the office, back to my site for one day, and then on my way west. Excited for change. Sad to leave.
December and still warm in Ukraine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

shedding possessions

Who would guess that it was possible to collect so much stuff over two years?
We really are like pack rats. This moving habit of mine keeps the possessions to a minimum, but even so, impressive.
I have between 8-10 days left in Ukraine, depending on which truck driver I catch a ride with. Questions of sustainability are weighing heavily but when I think of individuals whose lives I have affected and who have changed me, I recognize a mirror effect. So if I feel those changes within me, I'm sure they are within those people as well, and those changes are sustainable. 
A more open mind, flexible priorities and unlimited generosity is what I've learned to value.
I'll be interested to read my students' blogs to see if I can find any of my influence there. (where did I put that link?)
It's interesting how for me, because I'm in Ukraine, for a set amount of time, this part of my life is beginning to have clear edges, defined by location. My students experiences with me however are not contained within within any frame. Just another year at school, with some weird American guy, but still, just normal life.
Cold autumn rain.
One more essay to write and resumes to edit.
How do you end a blog?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two weeks left!

Three weeks of quarantine combined with fall break before that and my Continuation of Service conference before that has lead to 5 weeks without school. This has given me much needed time to write essays, finish graduate school applications, and track down my less than stellar GRE scores.

Now I have one week of classes and saying goodbye, one week of packing and then it's on the train/bus to Germany and airplane back to America.

Of course many mixed feelings, but overall ready for a change, and really anxious to get back to some academics.

Have some other blog entries saved on my computer, but I always forget to put them onto my flash drive.

It's been raining for weeks, and will rain into the foreseen future.

Really wish I had time to apply for a few more jobs, but school first. I'll get all these applications off on December 1st, and then focus on finding employment from now until school starts.

Carrot cake smells like it's ready, so I'm off to the kitchen...

Saturday, November 14, 2009


What can I conclude at the end of my Peace Corps service?

Well I’ll attach my official description of service soon, but until then, let me say a few things in response to
“how was it?”

For the surest answer, read earlier entries in this blog. But of course all experiences are changed by analysis’s hindsight. As for my thoughts now, they are poorly seasoned and relatively bland.

I would do it all over again, of course very differently. I’ve learned more about myself then anyone learned about English, me or America.

I made positive changes, after I was relatively fluent in Ukrainian and only where I had strong and close community support. I only wish that language was the largest obstacle.

I have many new friends.

This reflection is still premature.
It needs more seasoning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time and Opportunity

Algerian font matches

out of proportion feelings

time running out

running running out

Violined OUt

calm inner self


opportunity time


Make lists

accomplish tasks

all will be done in thy

time is plenty

but still

it’s gotta all come out


old clothes ragtime

new clothes giveaway

few clothes bringaway

red clothes run

Campstove sell

sleeping bag roll

music stand donate

notebook gift

trophy soccer jersey

duct tape


But all that doesn’t even compare to the time and energy I need to say goodbye

not for a time

a few months

see u on facebook

but years, maybe forever, and you don’t even have email

I doubt you can afford to pay international postage

Fortitude seems unfair

I was accepted, trusted and part of their town

now I just go?

"all my hopes for you to settle down here for good

bring your parents too!

it’s just as I suspected

Despite all his words

America must be nicer

look at him an all his opportunities

he’ll make a decent living with half the sweat I do

24 and he can still mess around as if he were 17

hasn’t even started his career yet"

And then there’s the newlyweds on the bus

Ivan says he had a great English teacher in his village school

She’s dead now, Гірник graveyard

Ivan has worked 500meters underground

four years down

twenty one to go

mine #9

electrical engineer



three months married

Natalia wants to get pregnant

he says she just doesn’t understand

the financial pressure

of having a kid

they’ve been talking about that new factory for six years

I have no choice

the mine or drugs

a hard life or no life

I can’t believe you are here

I don’t care about the election

Проти Всі!

Take my number

call me

you are a good person

May God Give You Happiness


That sure puts my silliness in perspective

How lucky I am

Life is just shining down on me

a gift of time and opportunities

thank you

but why me?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7th

‘If only’s never get you anywhere


no, I won’t dwell

stinky excuses

soccer is frustrating

because I don’t practice

because my Achilles is not healthy

because I haven’t taken 3 months off to cross train

because I don’t have access to cross-training facilities

one more game

wow, how stinky these excuses are

after all, what equipment do I need to do yoga?

short-timers disease

the beginning of

the new

failure to make due

looking farther than

my horizons

2 months to a swimming pool

Cleanup project this weekend a great success!

70 kids, teachers, and politicians

2 tons of trash

350kg of glass bottles

6 anti-littering signs

but most importantly

I did much less work than last time

which means

the kids are getting it

how to organize

delegate and support each other

empowerment through youth led development

small project design and management

next up

getting the movie theatre up and running

through some sort of club

keep going

I’m good at pushing through

but it’s going to be a shock

when one day

baby roots ripped up

put back in the 2003 hole

grow now?

too many leaves

pages of experiences

torn tubers

can I make the project design and management club


if not, what was the point?

people still litter

cut down trees

forget how HIV transmits

or neglect to inform their teenagers how to use a condom


that old dream


as if one person could change the world

but oh they can

but not without proper commitment and preparation

both of which I will

in the end

fail to demonstrate here

back to school I go

for preparation

and commitment

will make a home

without the escape backdoor

back to where?

“wont you go back”

they’ll ask

back to my white skinned American male advantaged

rung on the opportunity ladder

No man

“I wont go”

because I don’t want to

I can’t

I’ve witnessed too much

and I refuse to take my wrongful place

in the unjust system

on a rotten ladder

to that false red “developed” fruit

progress and better quality of life

Open your eyes

I try

so many truths competing

left center right

economics a force for good?

the power of greed harnessed?

at least the system acknowledges selfishness

but why are environmentalists so single minded?

I hate the leftist exaggerations

that corporations are evil, as if they are giant monsters

and not merely the combined greed of thousands

no, combined good intention, to work and provide for her family

normal and natural on an individual basis

but when combined, capable of truly externalizing the social costs of exploitation

the investment in guns, oil, gold and metals

so distant from the people who have a stock

willing or not

Can’t you see that the richest countries are also the cleanest?

It is only when people have basic comforts

then they worry about picking up trash

what do you care

at your computer

Minimizing pollution

being less bad

than that guy in the hummer

what have you done today to eliminate poverty?

get on the phone already

with your senator congressmen state politician folks

but better yet

I don’t know

take a sign and stand by the road on your lunch break?

organize a flash mob outside REI?

too much intention

not enough action

Your country is doing things

do you know what they are?

what are my brothers doing in Afghanistan?

why can’t they be planting trees, building schools and teaching kids English slang?

why are they crawling through caves and hunting men?