I never prided myself on having quiet patience and favoring slow change, but these virtues came in handy all along the way. The American “can-do” spirit and need for instant gratification came on a bit too strong for Ukrainian tastes. It is a slower pace in Ukraine, change is even slower, and trying new things is a challenge. Ukrainians are wise, strong, resilient, but they are also mistrustful, burdened with a traumatic history that affects attitudes, viewpoints and behavior, and often just plain burdened down with survival, the hassles of daily life.
It takes a while to gain trust. Enthusiastic global ideas for change, and "transferring skills," in Peace Corps parlance, don’t send sparks flying. Maybe just the opposite. Things have to evolve, slowly, one step at a time, many cups of tea, many toasts.
The Serenity prayer came in handy. It's a favorite maxim and mantra in AA and Al Anon (attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian) and I thought I had it down. Hah! It took several months of adjusting and re-adjusting, and then some, actually to put theory into practice in a new environment. "I can’t change this, but I can do that," I kept telling myself. One step at a time. One day at a time.
мужество изменить то, что мы можем,
и мудрость отличить одно от другого ".