The Ukrainian Adventure Begins…

Do-bry-den’ (good day) from Ukraine!

After a long journey, I have arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine! My last week at work in Calgary was spent winding up YMAP programs, saying some farewells, and eating many pirogies while doing preparations for my trip to meet our international partners in Ukraine!

Although it is only my second day in Ukraine, I feel very much at home here. I am fortunate enough to be staying with a “local”, Analu, who is doing a 6 month internship here with the YMCA National Office. Despite the fact that she is in reality from Calgary, it feels natural to refer to Analu as a Ukrainian “local”. She is an amazing translator and fantastic navigator, but most importantly a great friend/hostess. She has also introduced me to the Pustovoit family, who are also involved with YMCA Ukraine, and have been generous enough to share lovely meals, walks, and conversations with us.

Today Analu and I went to a meeting at National Office, where I had the opportunity to meet several staff and volunteers, and learn a bit about their programs. As I tell my students in YMAP all the time, the YMCA exists in many countries around the world, it just may look different than our YMCA’s in Canada. I saw a difference between the aesthetic appearance of Kyiv and Calgary; however, I could immediately sense similarities amongst our staff and volunteers. I received a very warm welcome from everyone, and in our brief interaction it was clear to me that we are all a part of the same organization, working towards similar goals but in different contexts.

Tomorrow, Analu and I will be heading to Lutsk in the Volyn Region of Western Ukraine. I am very excited to meet Marta, Ivanna, and other leaders with whom I have began building relationships with already via Skype – one of the true advantages of technology! We will be working as camp counselors at their regional camp on Lake Swityaz. Our internet access likely will be inconsistent, but we will blog again soon – hopefully with pictures! So far, all of the wonderful things I heard about Ukraine have been true, and I am very excited to continue learning from our partnership. For now, do-bra-nich (goodnight) from har-na (beautiful) Ukraine!