After a couple of years of staying close to home, Kenaston School once again took to the skies as they journeyed to Ukraine on May 10, 2019 for a World Class Tour. With imaginations packed up along with passports and boarding passes and with adventure as fuel, students and staff of Kenaston School embarked on the trip. Showers and thunderstorms were in the forecast, but this did not deter the would-be tourists as the culture of Ukraine was brought to life in the three hour whirlwind tour. There is an old Ukrainian proverb that states, “You don’t really see the world if you only look through your own window.” Shannon Libke, head of the World Class Tour committee, took this proverb to heart as she and her organizational committee planned the action-packed itinerary that allowed students to view Ukraine first hand through a variety of cultural experiences.
Anticipation and preplanning add excitement to any journey. With this in mind, students prepared for their trip in many fun and interesting activities. Designing pysanka, Ukrainian Easter eggs with DLC teacher Aaron Moore before Easter holidays, posing for pictures with the ‘little mamas’, creating crafts, assembling and displaying Ukrainian artifacts. Local community cuisine specialists Heather Jewell assisted in the preparation of cabbage rolls (holubsti) while Sally Siroski assisted with perogies (varenyky) and all students experienced pinching a perogy or two. Other Adam Centre volunteers, Yvonne Millsap, Jeanette Holder, Darlene Remmen, Idele Westman, Kim Johnson as well as Kenaston School student, Nate Paul assisted the students in creating headdresses and sashes to wear for the trip.
High school students were also fortunate to experience the Holodomor National Awareness Tour on May 2, a mobile classroom providing interactive learning about the Ukrainian famine genocide that occurred in 1932-1933. This sobering, educational learning experience provided knowledge of a little-known portion of Ukrainian history and this knowledge also extended to personal awareness of social responsibility and global awareness.
With the countdown to departure complete, students boarded Air Kenaston flight 2019 hosted by Air Kenaston pilot and flight attendants. Boarding passes in hand, students boarded, were seated and received safety instructions. The would be tourists were able to relax and enjoy the inflight movie and snacks. Air Kenaston promises efficient and time warped travel which resulted in the safe arrival in Ukraine in twenty minutes flat. Tourists were welcomed to Ukraine by their tour guides for the day and were off on their trip in five different tour groups.
There is much to see and do in the beautiful country of Ukraine so with the time limitations, five destinations were selected to experience Ukrainian culture. In Kiev, tourists were invited to sample the cuisine of Ukraine including uzvar (a fruit drink), holubsti, varenyky, and stewed fruit served up by four cheerful Babas who both entertained and educated the visitors on Ukrainian food, etiquette, and customs.
In Kharkiv, the Leleka Dance Ensemble under the direction of Valya Sky and her crew taught the students a variety of Ukrainian steps and movements. The tourists were placed in small groups and provided instruction by Ukrainian dancers of a similar age. They quickly were mimicking their instructors and moving to the lively ethnic tunes.
In Donetsk, the students interacted with Marion Mutala, a former Kenaston School student herself and author of ten books. Historical and family fiction of Ukrainian culture in Saskatchewan are themes of her books. Tourists interacted with the book, My Buddy Dido, in this lively session of folklore and fun.
Immigration to Canada from Ukraine is an integral part of our Saskatchewan history. While in Dnipropetro, tourists were involved in an interactive reader’s theatre tracing the immigration of Ivan and Tatianna and their family from Ukraine to Canada. With costumes and props the students were engaged in the touching story of a Ukrainian family’s journey and early years on the prairies.
Saskatchewan and Ukraine share a role as Bread Baskets of the World and in Odessa students learned about The Story of Wheat. Students learned about the role of wheat, its properties, and learned to thresh wheat using piping. Of course, Ukrainian bread, made from wheat, is a staple to any feast and in Odessa, students were able to sample delicious bread and jam.
While traveling between cities, tourists were entertained by local street performers. These men performed songs, dances, a variety of humorous sketches including stuffing all sorts of fillings into perogies, proving once again that absolutely anything can be placed inside a perogy!
At the conclusion of the city tours, all Ukraine tourists assembled to watch the talents of Miss Pratt, former Kenaston School intern teacher and the Leleka Dance Ensemble. The dancers wore a variety of traditional Ukrainian clothing. The Leleka Ensemble also brought traditional ethnic costumes that were modeled by Kenaston students in a fashion show. Then the whole audience was invited to circle around and put into practice some of the Ukrainian dance moves they had learned with many invited to showcase their skills in the centre circle.
However, the tour ended all too soon and the Flight 2019 was called to board and depart Ukraine. The students were quickly transported back to Kenaston in time for dismissal with the question in every one’s mind of, “Where in the world, will we be going next?”
A very special thank you to the sponsorship of Mr. McPherson and the Community Futures MidSask for the generous donation for this cultural event. Travel is expensive and this generosity allowed the trip to take place. Many thanks to the Kenaston School staff, Kenaston School SCC, some DLC staff, and some community volunteers who assisted in a variety of ways for this wonderful tour.