Tag Archives: Ukraine

Bishops appeal for a “stop to bloodshed and anarchy”

Statement by the Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Western Europe on the political crisis in Ukraine

It is with great interest and hope that Ukrainians in Western Europe follow the events of the last two months in Ukraine: they follow and participate in them. Millions of our citizens in Ukraine have expressed their civic position peacefully, even festively, making their way like pilgrims on the sometimes daunting road towards God-given dignity. Your dignity has become a celebration of our dignity. Therefore, it is with anxiety and anguish that we observe, along with the rest of the world, the events which have recently taken place.

The bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Western Europe fully support the head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, all the bishops, priests, religious and laity of our Church in Ukraine, which was suddenly once again threatened by the state.

The Church is not a political body. However, the Church is called to serve society and to be a rightful part of it. Its mission is to be with the people, especially with those who suffer. Our church wants to be responsible for its faithful, for all men of good will, and for the future of Ukraine. We are guided by the words of Pope Francis who said that “the shepherd must feel the smell of his sheep.” With Pope Francis, we prefer a wounded Church, perhaps even somewhat covered by the dust of the road and the sweat of labour, a Church that is with the people, rather than an abstract and detached Church.

With representatives of all churches and religious organizations, the Bishops of the UGCC in Europe strongly condemn murder and torture: anyone who commits such acts is responsible before God. We appeal to put a stop to bloodshed and anarchy.

We also encourage all parties to engage in dialogue. This dialogue is indeed difficult and requires patience, but in the present circumstances, any other alternative is unthinkable. Effective dialogue requires openness and sincerity, and cannot consist of a series of monologues, and even less so of blackmail by the stronger party which is moreover armed. Dialogue involves compromise, but not at the cost of truth and justice. We call on all parties to enter into a real and effective dialogue: the government, the opposition, the business community and the citizens of Kyiv and of various other Ukrainian cities, negotiating at various levels and in various formats.

We appeal to the Ukrainian leadership: you are responsible before God and men for the power which has been entrusted to you; exercise it for the good of the people, and not for their destruction. Follow the law, but never forget that if the law is unjust, it is justice itself that must prevail.

Political and social leaders must preserve the confidence of the people, their peace and their lives. The dignity and the interests of the Ukrainian people must be your reference point and the basis of all of your decisions and actions.

To the millions of those who are fighting for their dignity throughout Ukraine, we speak to you with the words of Christ himself: “Do not be afraid!” Recall the recent history of the Ukrainian nation and how it was preserved, the victorious testimonies of our martyrs and our confessors, and the history of salvation of each of us. This paschal conviction – the conviction that the cross leads to Resurrection, and that the Passion brings forth new life – can be a source of inspiration for us at this critical time which sometimes may seem frightening. The Lord has repeatedly brought us out of the house of bondage, and our pilgrimage to the “promised land” continues. We may trust that God will never abandon us.

We appeal to European citizens, states and institutions. We urge you to move to a deeper understanding of the events in Ukraine and to a more active involvement. Remember that ignorance and inaction in times of crisis can cause disasters. In the twentieth century, blood flowed in Ukraine mainly due to outside interference, but also due to external inaction, when the world was not able to hear and respond to the Ukrainian voice crying in the wilderness. The situation in Ukraine cannot be resolved without active mediation and international support. Ukrainians rely today on the effective solidarity of the international community.

Above all we encourage moral support and prayer.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, the legalisation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and freedom for all faiths in Ukraine, the peaceful development of an independent state over 22 years, despite the many historical traumas and painful memories of past injustices – all this was given to us by the Lord. Is it not really a wonder, this peaceful solidarity that has blossomed for two months in Kyiv and other maidans (public squares) in Ukraine and the world? It is not political slogans that are heard there, but the voice of God-given dignity.

People seek stable relationships in every context: interpersonal, family, social, civic, religious, national and international. This requires the grace of God, God’s will and the will of the people – in Ukraine, in Europe and worldwide. Real relationships, true human dignity and the respect for human rights require freedom, work, sacrifice and responsibility of each of us.

Otherwise, this country which gained its independence peacefully and is learning the painful lessons of democracy could become a hellish place of conflict, a field of blood. Today, in order to avoid the mistakes of the past, our common task is to keep Ukraine united and peaceful, to preserve people from death and violence, and to help restore truth and justice.

We, the Ukrainian bishops of Europe, assure you of our support and our solidarity. We promise to do everything we can to ensure that the voice of Ukrainians resonate more strongly in the countries that have been entrusted to our pastoral care. The European Greek Catholics unite with all Ukrainian churches in prayer and fasting for peace and unity in Ukraine.

Dignity and God-given truth are inalienable: dignity and God-given truth will prevail!

Munich, London, Paris, Rome, 24 January 2014

Bishop Petro (Kryk)
Apostolic Exarch for Ukrainians in Germany and Scandinavia

Bishop Hlib (Lonchyna)
Diocese of the Holy Family in London for Ukrainians in the UK
Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainians in Ireland

Archbishop Borys (Gudziak)
Bishop of the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr in Paris for Ukrainians in France, Benelux and Switzerland

Bishop Dionysius (Lyakhovych)
Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainians in Italy and Spain


Filed under Uncategorized

Clown and friends on the cobblestones


In L’viv, brides and grooms seem to like clowns in their wedding photos, especially clowns blowing bubbles. This couple poses in the main square of the Old Town. I think they may be posing for a fashion spread — they are so far apart. And they have no entourage (except two-too-many photographers.) Note the soccer uniform on the statue and the soccer ball in the background.  Euro2012 comes to town this Saturday.

Leave a comment

June 3, 2012 · 7:41 am

Ruslana Rocks

Ruslana Rocks

Enjoyed the great concert put on for EURO 2012 volunteers outside the main university in L’viv. Ruslana had great rapport with the students and others she is choreographing for her EURO performance who were behind her on the stage and in front of her in the audience. And the rest of the acts were fantastic, too. Takes me back to when I stayed up a little later.

Leave a comment

May 25, 2012 · 7:03 pm

Identity (in) formation

Before the presentation, I met my simultaneous translator who helped later with questions and answers, as well as the entire text of the two other presentations! Photo by Iuliia Zadorozhnia.

I delivered my paper to the Ukrainian Catholic University Journalism Faculty’s Conference on Media and Identity first thing, first day.

My paper, “Identity (in)formation: Analyzing internet media materials in the context of EURO 2012 for evidence of a new Ukraine” prompted a rousing 1.5-hour discussion among the invited professors and students. This is the first formal result of my Fulbright-year research.

My analysis of UEFA.com materials from Ukraine’s perspective of attractive tourists and business investment suggests the tournament will be bitter disappointment. While Poland and Ukraine are co-hosting the tournament and depicted as “twins” in UEFA communication strategy, the “twins” treatment does not control for a critical variable: the significant disparity in communication know-how and sales savvy in Ukraine compared to Poland. Poland reveals its advantage in an interactive travel planning program and links that Ukraine’s parallel links match with information with no effective choice or buy-through options. Even the alphabet works against Ukraine: travellers have bought transportation and hotels in Poland before they find out anything about Ukraine. I had two offers of publication from conference participants.

The most significant discussion occurred with regard to my discussion of the gap between what Ukrainians know to be true about independent Ukraine and what Westerners perceive about Ukraine, essentially as one of a sea of “former Soviet” republics. Not only does Ukraine have to make a strong persuasive case for tourism and business development, but it has to differentiate itself as a country separate from Russia and break through the information-poor stereotype of Westerners’ attitudes towards “countries of the former Soviet Union.” The idea that, even though it has collapsed, the Soviet Union is alive and well in news and other credible rhetorical references to Ukraine and other 20-years’ independent states.

The discussion was exhilarating. On top of it all, my four cheerleaders (mom, Adam, Zachary, and Bill) were invited to stay for lunch!


Filed under Uncategorized

Sometimes, all it takes is a little tiramisu

Zachary enjoys a soothing sip of raspberry tea at the Florenzia restaurant in L'viv.

We are recovered, thanks to a little side trip to Florence.

Zachary and I had something of a traumatic day yesterday. I was robbed, as you know. While I was posting about it on this blog, he called me in tears to say strange men were doing something on our balcony. Turns out they are doing something related to the construction next door. Nevertheless, the strange men and their strange noises had driven Zachary to hide under my bed. (They are outside in front of me now as I type on his desk.)

I hadn’t told him about the robbery on the marshrutka. Thank goodness. Meanwhile, I was worried that somehow the thieves had lifted my home address along with their significant take for the day, and that we were in for some more financial losses. So I rushed home, grateful for the two-hryvnia bus fare I found in a jeans pocket.

After a good long hug, we decided we needed a nice walk after the events of the day. Adam chose not to join us.

We wandered through the old town a new way, following Staroyevreyska Street past the Vintage Boutique Hotel on our way up to the Castle Hill. It was dinner time and Zachary was feeling hungry. Well, that it was dinner time didn’t really matter–Zachary is always hungry. When we spied an Italian restaurant I remembered he has been asking for spaghetti. So we went in.

We found a lovely restaurant with perfect service, great food, reasonable prices that has been open only a month and needs to be put on the culinary map in L’viv!

The restaurant is called “Florenzia.” It’s is on a small square that runs between Staroyevreyska and Brativ Rohatynstiv streets, bounded on the far side by Fedorova Street. That’s deep in the old town within sight of the part of the city’s wall that makes the Arsenal Museum, in the neighborhood of the ruins of the Golden Rose Synagogue.

The room is small and elegant. It has formal wallpaper and white linens. Contemporary music, Italian contemporary music, played in the background adding just the right touch of ambience without overpowering the experience.

Zachary was craving spaghetti. Set on white linens in a rich, elegant room, dinner at Florenzia could have been expensive. We were happily surprised by both the scrumptious nuovo Italian dishes as well as the prices.

We got there about 5 p.m. and were met by owner Ivan Duba, whose English almost made me forget we were in L’viv. He seated us and provided the menus. Which then reminded me we were in L’viv.  (My lips were moving when I read the items purportedly to myself, and I kept having to remind myself that an “m” in Ukrainian script is pronounced as a “t.”) Olga took care of the bar. Irina took care of the food service. We were the only diners. While we were there, two couples came in for wine or coffee. They don’t know what they were missing!

Zachary and I poured ourselves a big glass of water to start.  That’s the first thing to arrive at our table: a big carafe of water in which floated fresh mint.  Usually you have to buy bottles of water around here, so we appreciated the special treat with the touch of mint. We each started with Caesar salad, his with chicken. They came on bright white china plates with little bowls for the food in the center.  The dressing was tastefully subtle.  Great slices of thin fresh parmesan lay around the salad like icing. The croutons were fresh and garlicky and the presentation was topped off with crown of fresh mint and punctuated with a thin crusty bread stick.  The salads were delicious and left us hungry for more, which is the point of a first course, after all.   Pasta dishes came next: linguini Carbonara and fusilli Putanesca (Pumaneska on the menu).  Again, the dishes arrived nestled in a little bowl in the middle of a bright white plate. We at half of our dishes and then traded. We were in heaven. The portions were just right. The presentation was artistic, and the food was – well, Zachary had one word for it: “Awesome!” It was one word, but he said it over and over again. And he hadn’t tasted the tiramisu yet! The just-right portions left a little room for dessert. A different take on tiramisu, which included ice cream.

The whole meal, including wine, coca-cola, dessert and coffee, came to less than $50.

At Florenzia restaurant, Irina, Ivan, Leanne and Olga mark the perfect end of what started as a not-so-perfect day.

Zachary and I had a wonderful dinner and met wonderful people who allowed us to end our day in a significantly better way than we could have ever thought, considering how it began! Ivan and his team allowed us to enjoy the pleasure of their artistry and service, and to walk home relaxed after had been u until then a tense and disappointing day. Florenzia will become regular destination for me while I remain in L’viv. It’s the kind of place that, once you find it, you’ll want to go back and stay a while. And it has great art.

Zachary was happy to see his favorite flowers, orchids, featured in the window sill display. I like the pinks in their little paper pots with raffia bows. The window looks out onto a little square.


Filed under L'viv restaurant, Travel, Ukraine, Uncategorized

Pickpocket had a great day; me, not so great.

This morning I was robbed on the marshrutka bus 41 coming to class at UCU.

Two men pressed me into a corner at the front of the bus and would not let me any further in. They shoved me up onto the ledge behind the driver. One of them had one foot on the ledge. All the better to move his hand into position from under his luggage. The bus behind him did not seem so crowded. I couldn’t figure out why he was pushing me back. I thought he was being rude. The second man near the door made me think that there was actually some reason they could not move back. They made it so I had to really reach for a handgrip, which made it easy for the pickpocket to do his job.

My ability to move was made more difficult by the knapsack on my back with my computer and video camera. Usually I twist my fannypack to the back under my knapsack. Usually — ha ha.

The pickpocket opened the snaps on my vest, and then two zippers on the fanny pack (which was on my tummy) without me feeling anything. Then took all the money I had taken out of the bank last night, as well as the reserve I kept with my passport. He did not take my passport, or camera, or credit cards, which he easily could have. He had a very good feel for the cash. He did not leave me one hryvnia! But thank goodness that was my only injury.

I felt a little touch just as the bus door opened as he was lifting the last 1000 hryvnia from my passport “hiding” place. By the time I saw the zippers to my money pouch as well as the hiding place were opened, the bus was on its way. I could never have caught up with them.

The pickpocket was about 5′ 10″, with black hair and a slight build.  He was wearing black and carrying a black bag with a zipper surrounding it, holding it close to his chest with his right hand.  His left hand was obviously underneath doing the dirty work.  His accomplish was probably about 6 ft. tall, with reddish brown hair and huskier.  He was wearing a brown coat. He and the pickpocket created a 90-degree-angle of containment that they made smaller and smaller as they pushed me against other passengers and away from any comfortable handholds, so that by reaching I would leave my zippers vulnerable.  As soon as the ran off the bus, my fannypack gaped open. I gasped.  I checked for my passport and found the other money missing.  I gasped again.

Two ladies about my age saw my reaction and gave me a seat. They were lovely. When I got off the bus, four more ladies asked if I had been robbed, and I described the tactics. They were also sympathetic.

I feel really, really, really stupid. I usually don’t carry that much money, but hindsight — wham, wham, wham (my head against the wall!)  And I usually twist my belt. I let my guard down. I should have been MORE vigilant.

Lesson learned. I will be taking a cab to work from now on.


Filed under crime, Travel, Ukraine

The return of the native

Svalyava, Ukraine, July 13, 1998—We are taking the obligatory cup of tea in the orphanage director’s tiny office. On the highly polished table between us are sheets of cardboard-colored newsprint with irregularly inked carbon-copy typescript. Hard to read because the impressions are faint. And because the typescript is in the Cyrillic alphabet. These are the one-page records of the ten little boys the Ukrainian government has permitted us to visit.  Each page is dog-eared, each awkwardly weighted with a two-year-old passport-sized photo of a two-year-old boy stapled to the upper left-hand corner. The little face in one of those photos reminds me of my brother as a tyke. The boy in the photo is alive to me. I dreamt about him on the overnight train from Kyiv.

“If you could take one of the children home with you, who would it be?” my husband, Bill, asks the orphanage director.

He replies, “Let me introduce you to the first child whose name I learned when I came here last year.” He calls out something to the nurse in the hall.

The door opens. In walks the boy of my dreams with a big, big smile.  I’m smiling too.  He marches to me, pumps my hand firmly and chirps, “Dobre den!” Good day!  I can’t take my eyes off of him. I watch him march around the table, his little head bobbing with purpose, to introduce himself to Bill. I feel numb and breathless. I’m smiling so hard it hurts, but I can’t stop. At the same time, tears start to roll down my cheeks. Here he is. Our son.

And what is going through that little boy’s mind?  “They told me I was going to met these people, and I should be on my best behavior and introduce myself. The doctor called me in. I introduced myself. I thought you would go away, and the next day I would meet someone else,” he says to his mother, because after all, it’s his mother, and he feels obligated to answer.

On Nov. 27, 2012 Adam Pupchek, 17, returned to the Baby House where he spent the first four years of his life. The last time her was here he was five years old. It was one year after he became a Pupchek, when he accompanied us on our trip to find his brother, Zachary.  Now Zachary, Bill and I escorted Adam back to Svalyava on the train from L’viv.

The first part of the four-hour trip covered flat countryside.  A little more than an hour in, we started to climb into the Carpathian Mountains. Adam was tense and pensive the whole time. Very uncharacteristic.

Adam is not usually so quiet.

A Baby House in Ukraine is where children stay until they are four.  Adam arrived as an infant, directly from the hospital where he was born. Everyone who turns four years old by the end of any given summer goes on to another orphanage where they will start school and probably stay until they are 16.  That’s when they would be turned out onto the street. We met Adam in the orphanage director’s office one week after he turned four. He was one of 10 children who were going to age out of the Baby House that summer.

It has been Adam’s dream for years to come back here, and our year in L’viv has made the visit possible; however, it has been hard to sit him down to get him to share his feelings about the experience.  To prompt him a bit, I shared with him what I said in a 100-word-or-less FaceBook post last week as part of the Canada Writes 24-hour Name-Dropping Challenge. I wrote:

Adam stood at the gate of his orphanage for quite some time. When the security guard let us in and then let us upstairs, we were thrilled.  (He is the first one to come back,” he said.” Then we opened the door.)  “DADDY,” one of the four-year-olds cried as he stood in the doorway. The others fluttered to him, pulling at his pants legs and coat sleeves. His face opened into the widest smile I had ever seen. And his tears would not stop. I remembered the day when I carried him from this room. I cried too.

One little girl cried "Daddy!," and jumped into his arms.

That’s what I saw.  In the next post, Adam shares what he felt.


Filed under Travel, Ukraine, Uncategorized

Celebrating “Old Calendar” Christmas

It’s Day Three of Christmas (according to the Julian calendar), and all manner of celebratory things – notably singing, dancing, and the making-and-eating of doughnuts – will finally let up this evening. I hardly miss the three French hens at all.

We had hoped to celebrate Christmas in Adam’s Carpathian mountains, and then we worried we would not get back to Ukraine in time at all due to administrative circumstances beyond our control. Nevertheless, the whole family got into L’viv by Christmas Eve, Jan. 6.

We missed the traditional entry of Grandfather or Didukh (a giant sheaf of wheat) into the center of the city while I was being picked up at the airport.  Nevertheless, we were all together it in time to see the sidewalks roll up and a pregnant silence fall on the center city. In our time warp, where 7 p.m. was still noon to us, we walked through just-frozen downtown neighborhoods that were completely closed for business. They were drained of cars, buses, trolleys and all but a few straggling pedestrians. Out of the apartment buildings wafted the familiar smells of a traditional meatless Christmas Eve dinner – onions, garlic, mushrooms, fish, more garlic – that was supposed to be served as soon as families saw the first evening star.  Seeing the star was difficult in the eerie light of twinkling, blinking and electronically cascading electronic lights. At midnight, solitary pedestrians crossed at comfortable intervals among the intermittently green- and red-silhouetted branches of the naked trees in Ivan Franko Park. Everything was waiting.  Just waiting. Christmas Eve was a silent night indeed.

But Christmas Day was ecstatic!

We attended the Orthodox Church service. When church was over, we couldn’t help but notice that every business that could contribute to the celebration was open: restaurants, grocery stores and souvenir shops. Especially the booths at the Christmas Market. That’s because it seemed as if the whole town was downtown!  There must have been thousands of people out and about until the wee hours.

Actually, some of the townspeople were elsewhere. At the museum of rural and folk life, the Festival of Stars was taking place. The festival celebrates kolyadnyke or carolers – I’d call them troupes of mummers – who roam the streets behind a leader carrying an elaborate homemade eight-sided star, looking for just the right corner upon which to set up and draw an audience. The mummers are young people (from smallish children shepherded by mothers up to people in their 20s) who do more than sing carols. They perform their versions of the Vertep or  traditional Christmas morality play, a rhyming narrative with medieval roots relating how the birth of Jesus pushes the Devil out of the world. An Angel does the pushing. A scythe-swinging Death takes Herod (“Yee-rod“) and assorted evil-doers to Hell. (We saw a gun-toting Devil, a communist activist and a government bureaucrat escorted to the Netherworld. “So political!” said a lady behind me. These performances always have featured political overtones.) The same festival moves downtown the next day and features a parade. For many troupes, participation extends out into the rest of the city for all three days; they wander the streets, going door-to-door in some neighborhoods, performing the story and passing the hat for themselves (“I need new shoes! Giggle.”) or for charity. In the evening, stretching out from the front door of the Opera House and in the Market Square all around City Hall, the performances continue, competing with children’s choirs and poetry on a main stage; musicians busking; new-age Cossacks drumming and dancing; fireworks booming; revelers skating, eating doughnuts and caroling spontaneously; and teams of horses (driven by Santas on cell phones) clopping down cobbled streets pulling families all cuddled together in their carriages. Little children in snow suits wear devil horns glowing red, ladies in full-length furs saunter in spike heels as they sip mulled wine, cotton-candy makers attract and mesmerize audiences as they twirl the glistening strands of white sugar into bouffants-on-a-stick, dads stand at outdoor pub tables drinking beer and eating bratwurst or kielbasa or shashlik with one eye on the kids; teens drink hot chocolate or hot honey-mead and eat everything that’s not nailed down; and everyone eats at least one jelly doughnut.

In the southern United States where we have lived for 25 years, people often turn off their Christmas lights the day after Christmas, and almost all of them have undecorated and tossed their tree by the end of the same day. (The drugstores had already set up their Valentine’s Day displays alongside their 75%-off Christmas merchandise by the time I left Charlotte.) Meanwhile, in Ottawa, where my mother, brother and brother’s family still live, Christmas Day is the first of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Festival of Lights that runs until Jan. 7 means decorations, colored lights and as many Christmas trees as possible enjoy longer lives. Still, that’s nothing compared to how things are celebrated here in L’viv.  Here the holidays start about two weeks before “Polish” or “Latin” or “our” Christmas, as celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar. By the Gregorian Jan. 7 – that’s Julian Dec. 25 at the moment– things are in full swing.

Christmas Day is the first day of a celebration that lasts until Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. As I say, it’s only Day Three today. We’re heading downtown for some hot chocolate, doughnuts and skating. Nine more days of Christmas to go. Ho, ho, ho.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

L’viv Christmas Market

Adam carries my purchases as he leads the way through the L'viv Christmas market, which opened today.

The L’viv Christmas Market opened today. Adam and I did some shopping and froze our toes. He finally agreed to buy winter boots on the walk home!

I hope Adam with share his thoughts about his orphanage visit as soon as he can. Getting him to stay in one place to dictate his blog is next to impossible right now, what with working on his online courses and socializing and preparing for Christmas. Oh, did I say socializing? I hope to be able to pin him down soon.


Filed under Uncategorized

Spicing up the language

I teach at L’viv National Ivan Franko University on Thursday mornings. (You’ll notice the “350” banner on the main campus building behind Zachary and Adam in the above photo. That’s right—it celebrated its 350th birthday last Tuesday! More on special beginnings later.)

I teach in the Department of Journalism about a half-hour walk from the spot you see here.  (Uphill.) Here my students are third-year students whose English is good. Sometimes I think I may be speaking too fast, because I enjoy the subject and get carried away. But the students seem to be following along, and I make sure to stop along the way to clarify terms and ask for questions. I hope they’re having fun. Oh—and Learning Something!

Clarifying terms is important because the terms we use to name things are specialty sub-languages in each foreign language. For example, when I referred to The Enlightenment in a discussion of historic influences on American values, student faces in the room got pretty darn blank. However, radio journalist and professor Borys Potyaynyk, whose students these are, translated the term for them: Prosvita. On the other hand, most of the words for concepts I use,  such as “ideology” and even “hegemony,” enjoy direct analogues in Ukrainian except for the appropriate grammatical ending: ideolohia and hehemonia. (These examples apply the rule in Ukrainian grammar that pronounces a “g” as an ‘h,” and may indeed be wrong, this sharing them here is my first stab at using them.) You can tell, I guess, that living in a place where I don’t speak the language makes some of the important ways language operates jump right out at me.

In fact, Monday this week, my boys and I attended our first Ukrainian lesson. We will be participating twice a week in an immersion class, just the three of us, for quite some time, so my communication deficiency may soon improve.

Actually, all of us have made breakthroughs this week, each of us in a different realm of language. For example, Adam sounds as if he is simply speaking English with a Ukrainian accent, but in fact, I think he is getting the language grammar-first and adding the vocabulary as he goes along.  This may be the natural result of the fact that Ukrainian is his first language. But the more I think about it, I think it is the result of his great ability for auditory learning, his musicality. He processes everything as if he is learning to sing a song. He is getting the tune down and filling in the right words later. When we walked into a charming coffee bar, the Academia (yes, I had been eyeing it), for a snack on the way home from school, and it seemed too smoky to stay, Adam approached the hostess and asked in Ukrainian for not smoking—ne currite—two words I know but could not reach in the appropriate situation, if I could remember I knew them at all. And the hostess swept open the door to our left to the cutest tea-room you can imagine. The ceilings must be about 15-feet high. The ceiling-to-floor south-facing windows combined with the wide center aisle and generously spaced tables provided an airy atmosphere. Add a bit of elegance with white linen tablecloths, chairs covered in wine-colored brocades and huge satin bows at the back. The view to the street was fun. The service was solicitous (we were the only customers to start), the food was good, and the price was reasonable. Well done, Adam!

As for Zachary, he is getting very good at understanding language through contextual cues. At church this week, when Bill (who’s home in Mooresville by now) put 20 hryvnia in a special offering basket, the lady carrying the basket stopped circulating and asked him something–twice. Bill sputtered, “Ya ne rosumyu.”  I can say that expertly as well—it means, “I don’t understand.” Zachary looked at both of us impatiently and said, “She asked if you want change.” Sure enough, men were tossing in 20s and taking back 10s. Bill did not take any change. As a toddler, and even up until he was about four, Zachary was a listener rather than a talker. (He has grown out of that.  Really grown.) Perhaps his preference for listening, and especially his ability of being precisely aware of where he is in space at all times, being aware of his physical context, reflects that his social context clears his way into language. Well done, Zac!

I am getting better at reading the Cyrillic alphabet. Usually I can point a things and grunt, but spices have been a bit difficult, since I want too little to buy in bulk, but too quickly to buy at the market. (Did I mention my eyes are not giving me a lot of help in the fine-disinctions-in-bad-photographs-on-packaging department? This is what I learned from labels in the produce store this week: Italian seasoning (actually “herbs”) is Italianski trava; rosemary is rosemaria; basil is vasilyk; oregano is orehano; red pepper is chervony perets; bay leaf is lavrova lest. (“Leaf” is lest.) Judging from other words on labels, the Ukrainian word for spice is something like sooshanya. I must say, I am particularly proud of my success—after five minutes and two additional heads—buying caraway seeds this week. Caraway is KMNH. That’s the way it is spelled in Cyrillic. I think it is pronounced kin, but don’t quote me.

I am looking forward to our next Ukrainian class. I am disappointed that my Ukrainian is not improving as quickly as I would like. It seems as it I picked it up rather quickly the last two times I was here.  On the o other hand, as i was saying to my students yesterday, my vocabulary was limited to concrete things and activities that made up the world of a four-year-old: eating, drinking, bathing, sleeping, juice, applies, pears, milk, bread… need I go on?  This time I am participating as fully as possible in adult life. So are the boys. We need to get much more comfortable with the language to be able to weave ourselves into this fabric, but I am confident we can do it!


Filed under Uncategorized