|About the Book|
In the summer of 2013, after five years of putting it off, I finally decided to live one of my wildest dreams by accepting a teaching job in Ukraine. Every morning for three months I rose with the sun, lead the running and stretching exercises, taught the English language, ate traditional Ukrainian foods, and put my heart into every lecture I gave for the love of improving one of the most brilliant societies of our time.***Excerpts from Summers Gifts***We were halfway into the summer when Irina came in. She was a really humorous, calm and collected Ukrainian woman in her early fifties. Everyone called her ftaraya mat, which meant second mother in Russian. She had years of teaching experience and because she lived through the change from communism to whatever you want to call the state of Ukraine now, she could handle just about anything. Irina was raised by parents who were both survivors of Stalin’s forced labor camps back in the 1940’s. To her, challenge meant waiting in breadlines for hours. Camp was a piece of cake.I was in the middle of nowhere. By bus it would’ve taken about six hours to get to the capital, Kiev. Odessa was a seventeen-hour train ride. The closest city big enough to even mention was an hour away. I’m talking about horse and buggy middle of nowhere!She was only twenty-six-years old, but to many of the students she was like a mother, and to all of the counselors and staff, a very wise and caring sister. No matter what happened, Sasha always kept a smile on her face. She spent every waking moment at camp planning activities, boosting morale, making sure other people were feeling well, and that everything was running smoothly –to the best of her ability and based on the resources she had to work with.No matter how frustrated I got and despite how hopeless some of our situations seemed, something would always prod me to believe that at the core of our challenges were sacred lessons to be learned.Let me share these priceless gifts with you.