Changing continents to change the world

While in Ukraine as a member of the Peace Corps, GNA Alumna Katherine Mash has impacted her local village by creating a mini-club called “Camp Healthy YOUth” that endows students with a sense of inclusion and confidence. She also hosts English clubs, teaches lessons, works at camps, and holds other after-school activities such as theater club and choir.

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During her training, Katya had intensive language learning. Every time she’d learn something new, it would be taped onto the wall of her language teacher’s house. This picture is only showing about 1/10 of everything that was taped on the walls!

Kaleah Moran, Ethan Egenski, and Kayla Eckrote

UKRAINE- Imagine picking up and moving to a new country. What would it be like? How difficult would adapting to a new culture be?

Katya Mash, a.k.a. Katherine Mash, has done this, and not just for herself. Katya is training for the Peace Corps in Ukraine, a country 4,820 miles away from her Alma Mater, Greater Nanticoke Area, where she graduated in 2015. Katya has been there for several months now and is absolutely loving it; she is even impacting the villages she has lived in by constantly volunteering all throughout the community. 

The Peace Corps, run by the United States government, is a volunteer program that has the objective of providing social and economic advancement to countries around the world. Volunteers are American citizens who typically have a college degree, and they travel abroad for two years after they complete the necessary three months of training. After serving for 24 months, an extension of service may be requested if desired by the volunteer. While in another country, most volunteers are assigned to a host family during their stay, and they receive monthly allowances to pay for any expenses that arise during their service.

Katya decided to apply for and join the Peace Corps because while she was studying at West Chester University, it became very clear to her that she needed to use her time on Earth for the benefit of others, not just for herself. In fact, one thing that Katya loves about Ukrainian culture is that they live for each other. Ukrainians are hospitable, kind people who always want to be spending time with family and friends, and they are constantly doing things for others. Katya has already been taught a multitude of lessons about selflessness. 

This photo was taken on one of Katya’s first days in her new village, right next to her new house in Ukraine.

The village where Katya is currently staying will only be her home for a short time, though, as she will be there for merely two weeks. A big change will be made in the population of the village that she is residing in, since she is currently living with and around 17,000 other people, but will soon be moving into a village with only 1,200 people. To put this into perspective, that would be similar to moving from Bloomsburg, PA to a town whose population consists solely of the students who attend the GNA High School and Elementary Center. However, Katya is willing to adapt, just like she did to the Ukrainian language.

At first, Katya relied on Google Translate in order to speak to anyone, but she now is now developing new communication skills with which she can understand what people are saying and respond with words, even if they don’t make complete sense. She is now working on being able to hold a conversation with the locals, and this is truly helping to improve her inner happiness because she is finally feeling included in her foreign world.

While working at the local school, Katya created a mini-club called “Camp Healthy YOUth” that really affected the students and endowed them with a sense of inclusion and confidence. She also hosts English clubs, teaches lessons, works at camps, and holds other after-school activities such as theater club and choir. All that Katya has done so far has benefited her community, and her time in Ukraine has truly changed her as a person. While training, she met a girl named Sydney, and they would spend every weekend together at Sydney’s babusya’s (grandmother’s) house, eating a home-grown and home-made meal. Additionally, on Sunday’s, Katya would go to another one of her friend’s babuysa’s house, and spend some time there.

Everything Katya consumed at Sydney’s babusya’s house was always fresh, including the milk. One day, they let her give milking the goat a try, making her feel like a real Ukrainian.

As Katya has proven, one’s life can be completely altered by choosing to help others and by adapting to changes in everyday life. By deciding to leave one’s comfort zone, one may truly be shocked by the outcome. Katya has done this, and she is cherishing her time in Ukraine. She even has an Instagram page (@katyapeacecorps) that she posts on very often, so she can share her experiences with the world. Visiting her page will provide an inside look at Katya’s life and provide a possible option for a career path.

Katya encourages everyone to be selfless and charitable, and in regard to her own choices, she stated, “My path to being in the Peace Corps was as simple as this: I set a goal for myself, and I worked very hard to make it happen. One day, I made the decision that I wanted to join the Peace Corps and so I committed to that goal and now here I am. Almost a year later, I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, loving every day here because I get to share love and peace in this beautiful country. What once seemed like a crazy, far-fetched idea became a reality for me by setting smaller goals for myself that led me to the big one: being here!”