Monday, June 22, 2009

my new home

I wrote this all out at home, but I can't get this old computer I am using to read my scan disk. I guess the real reason is that everything is in Russian and I can't understand what it (as in the computer) is saying!
Anyhow, I arrived here in my new home on Friday after a 14-hour train ride from Kyiv. I am in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, which is the pennisula in the southern part of Ukraine and is where all the beautiful beaches and spectucular hiking is--only an hour or so south of me! Simferopol is a city about the size of Chernihiv (340,000 or so), but more cars it seems. I am working with the Crimean Tatar Library, whose mission is to preserve the culture and language of the Crimean Tatars and serve as a respository of all writings about Crimea Tatars in any language. The Crimean Tatars are a Muslim ethnic minority in Ukraine. They have lived on this pennisula for centuries, but Stalin deported them overnight after World War II accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. About 40% of the population died in the deportation. Kruschev officially apologized to them at some point, and the Tatars began returning in 1989. Now there are 250,000 all over the pennisula.
I have a little house in a Tatar community on the edge of the city. Sort of a suburb. Though my house is very funky (many stories about it), there are some pretty nice homes and the family who I share an entrance and who own my place have a larger home. Everything is built out of kind an adobe brick, because it is so hot here. The water is shut off at noon, and it is the outhouse after that. Actually my toilet has yet to work, so I have been pretty much using the outhouse (hole in the ground basically).
So far, no one speaks English--including evryone at the library which is where I am at right now (my first day at work). The daughter of the director is coming this afternoon so we can have a meeting--she will interpret. My Russian is really bad, but I sure will learn it now, it looks like. Plus some Tatar...yet another language.
I have been to the bazaar with Nadgiye, my counterpart, and have gone for walks in my neighborhood. It is very beautiful here--rolling foothils of the coastal mountains. Reminds me of northern California some, minus the trees.
I am very excited to be posted here and to be doing this job. I just hope I can give them the help they want, which I think is helping them get grants. The Dutch government funded the re-building of the library. I will find out more at the meeting with the Director about what they want. My counterpart, Nadgiye, seems like a very sweet woman. We are trying our best to communicate with one another, but it can be a challenge sometimes...well, pretty much all the time I would say. She appears to be about my age, came back here in the relocation. We met in Kyiv and travelled down here together on the train, a 14-hour overnight ride. Trains are how you get around here. The trains stations are like our airports--at least the ones I have seen.
I do have a computer here at my desk (with Windows 98) and internet access, so that is great. I can't see skyping here, and I don't have it at home, so I don't know about that for now. But there are internet cafes around, so we'll see....
I think I should get this posted while I can. Now sure what we are doing today, but I think getting some food for lunch and then meeting with the director and staff (about 20) and then maybe going to a children's library, which is one of our partners. At least that is what I understood...
Much love to you all. Look Crimea up on the internet and you will get an idea of where i am at. I am the most further south posting of the PCV's in my group--everyone wanted to be in Crimea and the northern gal ended up here. Pretty funny....


  1. Sounds like a great job for you, Barb! Crimea looks beautiful, and I'm sure you'll do well with "roughing it." Congrats on getting such a plum post.

  2. Barb, one of my nieces wants to read your adventures. I'll call you soon to find out how she can get access.