A decade ago I had just arrived in Kyiv, where I spent a few days with a friend of a friend, getting to know lots of people and seeing some of the city. I celebrated my 23rd birthday there- hard to believe how very young I was when I set out on a year alone on the other side of the world.
Soon after my birthday I headed south to the city where I would be living and working for a year. I spent a few weeks living with a local family and trying to function even though they spoke no English and I spoke no Russian. A few weeks later I moved to a flat in the center of the city where I lived with a dear older American woman who had spent many months living in Ukraine and developing relationships and friendships with the people there.
It was quite a year- I studied Russian at the local university, worked with AIDS orphans in the local hospitals (that's a whole other heartbreaking story), taught English classes, traveled a bit, made tons of friends (who are almost all on Facebook now!), found a new boyfriend (another long story!), and finished doing a lot of growing up. It was a life-changing year- one that was challenging and full of loneliness and friendships all at the same time. I wouldn't change it for the world!
Galina and Pavel, the local couple that I lived with when I first arrived in Donetsk
My flat was on the bottom floor- the one with the windows enclosed.
If you look at the wall on the left side of the picture you can see the "propaganda radio" on the wall. You could not change the station on this radio or turn it off, only turn down the volume a bit.
There were giant cockroaches that lived in this kitchen, and no microwave! But I learned to function here pretty well!
My Russian teacher, Marina
My dear friend Yana with one of the AIDS babies
With my Ukrainian friends on a trip to Yalta. Almost every Ukrainian has this same picture!
On a trip to Western Ukraine to visit people I met during my first trip to Ukraine in 1998.
St. Andrew's in Kyiv