Kosiv and Carpathian Mountains, at a
summer survival camp in far western Ukraine. Photos by my RM (regional manager) Vasyl.
Going to Kyiv, in other words, was a hassle, although no matter where we were posted in Ukraine, we learned to accept it, even to like it. For me, it was an overnight train ride. I usually met interesting Ukrainians who were happy to try to communicate with an Amerikanka. I got to like the big city, too; even learned to read the signs and take the subway from one end to another. The worst trip was when I broke my upper arm near the shoulder and had to go to Kyiv with only a few aspirins between me, the tracks and the pain.
But the PC staff was super: the medical staff (PCMO), the folks who helped with grants and finances, the administrative staff, the language and cultural instructors (fantastic), the site managers, the Regional Managers. All dedicated, bi-linqual, amazingly tuned in to PC goals.
That was so of my regional manager Vasyl. He got to know all about me, but I knew only a little about him. Certainly Vasyl had no easy job herding PCVs across Lugansk and Khargiv oblasts. And sometimes we crumbled, mumbled and rumbled. But mostly we were a stalwart bunch, and Vasyl let us know we could handle whatever came our way. Even though he was from the West, I now know, he helped us acclimate to the East. Different languages, different traditions, different perspectives, one nation struggling to survive and achieve social harmony, economic justice and self-determination.
Vasyl was tough, and so were we. He loved Ukraine, and so did we. That’s another reason I was happy to get a photo album of Vasyl’s hometown of Kosiv. I’d been to Slavsky and the towns around and near it, and to some trans-Carpathian towns, as well as the wonderful city of Lviv, full of history, culture, magnificent architecture, churches and monuments. I went with dear friends Olga, Tonya and Julia. I will never forget that trip. Я никогда не забуду.
But I didn’t know this was Vasyl’s stomping grounds, and I didn’t get to Kosiv. I didn't know he was such a magnificent photographer either, which he tells me is a passion and hobby of his. Seeing Vasyl’s hometown makes me feel closer to him, closer to Kosiv and the west, and maybe closer to a return trip to Ukraine, too!