In Ukraine I have experienced many activities that are familiar to me, and others that are new. Since it would be hard for me to describe them all in detail. I will only focus on my first flu outside America.
Obviously I’ve had the flu before. So, I knew the proper procedures: stay warm, drink plenty of fluids, rest, and take meds. However, in Ukraine there are more steps to this process. You must also cut onions and garlic. Then place them around your bed. This idea was hilarious to me, but I played along.
I also learned that the word solitude is not in the Ukrainian Dictionary. Every 20 minutes my concerned host family knocked on my door. I was barraged by a steady flow of distress. This was all I heard for two days, “Knock, Knock. Riiiiiiiiiiichard, Riiiiichard.” (On that note, I must add how much I adore my host family. They truly are wonderful and caring people.)
After my illness had subsided and the garlic shrine around my bed had been removed. I explained to my friends that this situation is a perfect example of the compassionate nature hiding behind each stoic Ukrainian. I will never forget a precious statement which came from my Host Mama. She smiled after listing the generations living under her roof, adding the avowal, “why would anyone want it otherwise?”
*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman, and do not in any way reflect the views of Peace Corps or its affiliates.