Andrea Zimmerman, Peace Corps Volunteer, Kremenchuk



Talking, sleeping, waiting.

Standing, sitting, waiting.

Reading, writing, waiting.


No matter how you do it or what language you speak, waiting is a fact of life, especially in Ukraine, and today, December 13, was no different. In total, I waited for 10 hours on buses and metro trains, in lines and in airports.


Yet amidst all of this waiting, there was tea – because no matter how much work or waiting remains to be done – there’s always time for tea, especially in Ukraine.


Over the past two years, I’ve learned the value of drinking tea. In fact, two years ago, I would have used the phrase “putting life on hold to drink tea,” but now I see it differently. Life is what happens over a hot cup of tea. It’s during these moments — between sips of steaming chai — friends can share joys and problems, their successes and failures.


Today’s teatime insight came at a time that I needed it most:


“You cannot add days to your life, but you can put more life into each day.”


Just as the words left Lena’s lips, all of the day’s transportation hassles suddenly melted away and the world began to right itself once again.


All day, I had heaved a heavy sigh each time that I’d elbowed my way on or off the metro; I’d stared sullenly out the window as my marshrutka whizzed bumpily over the Ukrainian countryside; I’d groaned as I repeatedly climbed seemingly endless flights of stairs to complete menial but necessary duties.


Yet all this labor and all this time spent waiting had brought me to this moment of mutual relaxation between friends, where fellowship over tea granted us a brief respite from the grueling tasks of the day.


Here, among the enormous quantity of time spent doing next to nothing, I was given a quality moment to save all others – a moment of perspective.


Waiting and working are two tasks that are inevitable, no matter the country you live in. So, the question is: what can I do every day to add a bit more life to those lifeless moments?


As I sit here at 11 p.m., waiting in the airport for my friend’s plane to arrive, I’ve been able to think of a few:


– Do a dance on the metro platform.

– Hum along to the ABBA song as it blares over the marshrutka speakers.

– Smile and say thank you, even when the other person doesn’t.

– Start a conversation with the stranger sitting next to you.


It’s impossible to promise that each day will be filled with lively moments, but the most any of us can do is to create just one of these moments each day. And who knows? Perhaps others will join in and we’ll all start fully living life together.


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