As mentioned in my last post, I was in Kyiv last week for my Regional Orientation with seven other co-fellows from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia. What a group of countries that most folks have never planned a trip to see! There is something I find quite exciting in exploring a city I’ve never really considered, and eating food I’ve never even thought of. This week afforded me both.
My first night in Kyiv, four weeks ago when I arrived, did not leave me with the best impression of the city, as it was all too much a jolt to my senses. But now I am able to see beauty where I previously did not, and that is a good landing to reach on Acculturation Mountain. Three times, colleagues and I walked the distance between our hotel and America House, about 2 miles, and got to see the jumble of shops, hotels, churches, and restaurants that populate the city center.
America House is a fantastic new facility where we spent a good bit of time; one evening Thaddeus, Lisa, and I took turns leading activities for the group of over 100 adults who came to practice their English, and on another day, we worked with a large group of 13-15 year-olds from the Microscholarship Access Program.
On Saturday, the last day that we were all together, we took a three-and-a- half-hour boat ride on the Dneiper River with the Fulbright Scholars in Ukraine. It was very nice but, uh, kind of a long time to be on the boat.
We were so happy to move around after we got off the boat that we decided to walk back to our hotel. What a great decision! We walked up St. Andrew’s Descent, an old windy cobblestone road that reminded me a bit of Prague. Handcrafts lined the way on both sides.
At this point, we were ready to eat, so you can imagine our joy when we happened upon a Georgian restaurant! Melanie took charge in helping us order, and we spent what I would consider a truly Eastern European/Caucasus evening together, talking, laughing, and starting our march together up Fellowship Ascent.