Friday, August 14, 2015

Teaching In Kiev?

So… I got offered a job in Ukraine teaching English from 4 PM until 10 PM Monday through Thursday and from 11 AM to 8 PM on Sundays.  The gig would start September 2. The school has six locations throughout the country, but the position that they are trying to fill right now is at their campus in Kiev.

Well, I did some currency conversion, and pay for post is about $5.60 an hour with an average base salary of $500 a month. That may be more than the normal Ukrainian income, but it's not exactly an amount one can save on. I don't know what to do. I've prayed for wisdom, and for now, I'm stuck. It's penurious wage-wise, but they don't ask invasive personal questions and it would give me plenty of opportunity to practice teaching (which better-paying jobs require experience doing). It would also give me an opportunity to practice my Russian. Yet I would have to leave the country a month or so after getting there to take a letter of invitation to the  Ukrainian consulate in Warsaw or Krakow (Poland is the closest European country, so most people go there) in order to obtain a formal work visa – they don't send the invitation letter (Приглашения) to the US; you have to pick it up in person in Kiev then run across the border to apply for a more permanent work status. This is a little Byzantine, but not entirely crazy, given my knowledge and experience of bureaucracy in that part of the world.

Of course, paying for all this travel looks to be not inexpensive: the lowest price I could find on a plane ticket from the US to Kiev and thence to Warsaw and back totalled around $1800 via Polish Lot Airlines. And teachers have to pay for accommodation in Kiev out of their own pockets. Apparently accommodation (in an apartment shared with another teacher) doesn't run more than $150 a month, but that leaves only $350 a month for food, transportation and other necessities. On the other hand, the hours are very good (they run from four in the afternoon until 10 at night), and the ages of the students ideal (age 14 and up). Theoretically, I could work on my own language skills and writing projects during the day and teach in the evenings. There certainly wouldn't be much money for doing much else!

The school semesters last seven weeks and so every eighth week would be time to travel. I could see Pirogov in the flesh, and perhaps even delve into some of the archives that have material by and about him. However, I would be no closer to paying off my financial debt to my mother, nor would I have saved anything for retirement. I don't know whether it is shortsighted or farsighted to accept this contract or to  wait and hope that something better will come along. I know that after a year in Ukraine, my Russian language skills  should once again be at a level where I am confident enough to apply for jobs that require a level of fluency I don't feel I can honestly claim at this time. So should I go to Kiev in three weeks? The school needs to know ASAP.

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