From the Field is a bimonthly newsletter published by the Peace Corps office in Ukraine highlighting volunteer projects across Ukraine. In the last issue, thanks to my PCV friend in Crimea, Cheryl Pratt, our library project was the featured story. I put a link to the pdf under Links of Interest. I think Cheryl did a great job capsulizing the essential details of the project and the need for it. Thanks so much, Cheryl!
A funny (kind of) thing about the photo. I sent Cheryl many photos to choose from and she sent them on to the Peace Corps office and that is the one they picked, with me in the center and Nadjie on my left and another librarian on my right, looking at an old book. Which would have been fine, except that that particular librarian is not the head of that department, and I knew the department head would be upset when she saw the picture. And sure enough, I was right.
There is an undercurrent of competition here in Ukraine that I think comes from Soviet times, when it was a matter of life and death (at least during Stalinist times) to look out only for yourself, to promote only yourself, to be suspicious and paranoid of everyone else outside your very immediate circle. And I think those feelings have gotten passed down through the generations--I know it is something we PCV's come up against constantly--that lack of cooperation, teamwork, and all those other America values so encouraged in the American workplace. Because of the language barrier, much of what goes on at the library is lost on me, but unfortunately that tendency is something I have picked up on more than once.
But maybe not so much with the younger staff. As always, one can hope that as the country moves further away from its Soviet history, some of the more damaging aspects of that time will began to fade. I know it is the hope of the young people to create a more open society than the one in which their parents lived.