Saturday was another early start but a bit easier to start out. Breakfast was just as good as the day before, and the tea I had was amazing, the best I’ve had in fact. I never would’ve guessed that Ukrainians primarily drink tea, but they definitely do it right. After breakfast, we went to the American Councils office to have a lecture about the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. We learned what a volunteer was in terms of the revolution and what being a volunteer meant in the eyes of the public. It was definitely more of a discussion than a lecture. My classmates did not hold back in asking questions, which definitely helped us learn even more. It was interesting to hear different Ukrainians perspectives about Maidan and the revolution as a whole, especially having only learned about it in a classroom. After the lecture, we stopped by the Channel 24 office, where Vova works. He talked to us about being a war correspondent and journalist. It helped us understand a little more why he felt so strongly about educating people about the current conflict and how difficult it could be for him to stay objective.
We got lunch and then walked around the city, more specifically to Maidan.
It was a crazy feeling to be standing in the square, where just 2 years earlier, thousands of Ukrainians stood fighting for their freedom. It’s something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. America just does not have this kind of history. The square has been cleaned up and restored to its original state, in some ways erasing the struggles that people went through there. Memorials have been made to honor those who died trying to fight for what they believed in. In a way, its indescribable. After learning what happened at Maidan, it’s nearly indescribable what it felt like to be standing where the revolution began. Some people lost their lives, but many others are hopefully on their way to freedom.
After a short tour of the city center, we had the chance to experience a traditional Ukrainian dinner, The first thing we were offered when we walked in the restaurant were free shots of vodka, so there were no complaints there. I tried some new foods, not all of which I was a fan of, but was definitely a glad I had the chance to. I realized that Ukrainians are fans of mushrooms, but despite that I still enjoyed dinner. After some inappropriate dinner conversations, some delicious vodka, and lots of laughs, it was time to make our way back to the hotel.
Knowing we had to be up and ready to leave at 3 am, quite a few of us went back to the hotel bar to celebrate Chase’s birthday. Schmidt, Taras, and Vitalii all made their way in eventually. After having one too many drinks my night was over and thanks to my very wonderful and patient friends, I was all packed up and ready to check out at 3. We loaded our things on the bus and made our way to the airport. It was bittersweet, saying goodbye to those I’d like to think of as friends now, Taras and Vitalii, but it’s nice knowing that if we ever want to come back, they’ll be there hopefully wanting to meet up 🙂
This post wasn’t as long as I was expecting, but it is almost a week later so I’m sure I’ve left some smaller details out. No matter, I believe I’ve gotten the main points across. The last post about Ukraine will most definitely be longer and have very few pictures if any at all, as I’m planning to write more about what I learned and took away from this trip seeing as I’ve just finished covering what we did. I hope it has been both interesting and educational for those of you reading from New Jersey or even elsewhere and I encourage you all to learn more about the current and past conflicts in Ukraine.
My Last Post: Ukraine – Day 1