Back home

As we left Ukraine, a bit of Ukraine came to visit us in Washington. Alina and Alyona, two journalism students from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, stayed with us for a month during their internships in Washington. They were delightful company, and cooked a fabulous Ukrainian dinner as a farewell gift.

Kyiv, as seen in the Moscow subway

One of the most striking things we saw in Moscow were the paintings in the Kievskaya metro station. These images of happy Ukrainian peasants were created in the 1930s, shortly after Stalin had brutally suppressed peasant life in Ukraine, starving millions to death. It was strange and ironic to come upon them in the subway, which is itself a powerful monument to Stalin’s era in Russian history.

On the train to Moscow

We left Ukraine by way of Russia, because it turned out to be much cheaper to fly back from Moscow than from Kyiv. So we took one more overnight train ride, and arrived at the Kievskaya station the next morning.

Packing up

The title says it all.

A final Ukrainian picnic

Many apologies for the long silence on this blog. The end of our time in Kyiv came upon us in a rush. Here are a few brief, final posts.

On one of our last days in Ukraine, our friends Oleg, Lena, and their daughter Dasha invited us for a lovely picnic in the Botanical Garden.

President Yanukovych and the wreath

This video took Ukraine by storm today. If you haven’t seen it already, you really need to watch it. The occasion: President Medvedev of Russia had just arrived in Kyiv. He and President Yanukovych of Ukraine were laying wreaths at a World War II memorial. Unfortunately, there was a rainstorm in Kyiv yesterday ….

May 9th Victory Day Parade in Kiev

Dan and I went down to Kiev’s main boulevard, Khreshchatik, to watch the Victory Day parade, which marked the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany.  There were marching bands, tanks, war veterans carrying bouquets of flowers, and lots of Ukrainian army conscripts dressed up in World War II style uniforms.

This woman told us she was born in Kiev one day before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, June 21, 1941.

Dan with the Red Army on Victory Day in Kiev

IMG_5178We decided this picture needed a caption.  Just WHAT is that other guy thinking?

“*They* won the Cold War?”
“No, Durak, the strap goes over the *right* shoulder!”  Rob Gurwitt

“He looks too happy; we must have him deported.”  Lori Ashford

“How is that man listening to the voices in his head, without headphones?  Tim Fretz

“The Red Army synchronized swim team sizes up its new Mennonite coach” Matt Frumin

“Jew?!” David Rubenson

“Where are the KGB when we need them?” Monica McCarthy

“Big fancy American. He don’t even have no stinkin’ medals!” Peter Breslow

“Hey, what’s he doing out of the Gulag?”  Scott Simon

“My belt’s too tight and it’s making me grumpy.”  Cheryl Weber

“The hairdresser said if we wear these ‘permulators’ on our head for 4 hours, we can have hair just like this guy.” Tim Fretz

“Grrr…I bet he’s going to post this picture on facebook, too!”  Sonya Charles

“Bearded barbarian.  No medals or stylish cap either. Yet, he seems happy!” Tim Charles

“Weirdo go home!!!”  Sarah Swartzendruber

“There goes the neighborhood!”
“Bloody pacifists!”
“If only we still had the Gulag!”   Cal Eigsti

“I vant heem, vit catsup…maybe vit onions. Make dat catsup AND onions.”  Firoozeh Dumas

“I didn’t know Lenny Cosmos has a beard!”  David Bucher

“He’d look better in one of my hats”  Susan Stamberg

“NPR reporter interviews Ukrainian cosmonauts before attempted launch on flying saucer”   Chris Joyce

“I can’t believe we lost the Cold War to these smiling, medal-less fools…”John Borrazzo


Gotta love those light-hearted Ukrainians!  What’s Dan smiling about?  Margie McCarthy Hall

Were you asking too many questions?  Rhoda Charles

I’m glad you guys are getting out of there soon. . .Jane Stewart

Nice to see he’s making friends over there. Dianne Torreson

It’s touching how welcome Dan’s presence is– and it’s hard to tell him apart from the natives.  Lizzy McCarthy

Why does it look like the guy is going to kill Dan??  Cathleen McCarthy

What did you do to deserve a look like that? How can those guys hear anything?  Sharyn Tieszen

I noticed the soldier is holding holding/restraining his hands, which is reassuring. Maureen McCarthy

Maybe the Red Army guy is wondering where Dan’s bathing cap and earplugs are?  Sheila (McCarthy) O’Brien

Stiletto Slalom

Brigid finally found a way to do a radio story about Ukraine’s mind-boggling footwear! She realized that we were watching a kind of Winter Olympic sport right here on the streets of Kyiv.

So: Here’s a link to the piece that ran on The World.

Now, I spent a lot of time and effort gathering visual material that The World couldn’t use. So here’s a slide show version, too! Hope you enjoy it.


How’s this for a fine group of young aspiring journalists?
These students are in the master’s level journalism program at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. They took a class on radio production that I co-taught last term. (My co-teacher, the fabulous Tanya Lockot, is on the far right in the green sweater.) If you understand Ukrainian, you can listen to their final projects here. I was quite pleased with the variety of their reports. Some looked back at history, others examined current social problems or cultural developments, and one climbed to the top of an abandoned building in downtown Kyiv.

I’ve also given a couple of lectures at other places, including the journalism departments at Zaporizhzhia National University and Kyiv’s National Aviation University, where this picture (below) was taken. The gentleman with me is Volodymyr Vladymyrov, who invited me to talk to his students. Vlad, as I call him, spent a year at the University of Missouri as a Fulbright scholar in 2003-2004.
Lecturing generally has gone pretty well. I’ve been very impressed by how well the students here understand English. They do their writing in Ukrainian, though, and my language limitations prevent me from doing much of the kind of teaching that I think is most valuable: Acting as an editor, and giving specific feedback to students on their own projects. I hope what I’m doing is still worthwhile!