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Kalona, Iowa
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September 8, 1994     The Kalona News
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September 8, 1994
 

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in-dependenCe Mall Independence Mall (formerly Lenin Mall) was a central gathering spot in Kiev. It was the site of a hug~ Independence Day celebration. Many young musicians also give impromptu concerts in the evenings. Six street: Kate Choursina's grandparents where I was warmly greeted. Kate also sends her greetings to her Kalona area friends. She has been accepted as a journalism graduate student at the University of Iowa, but still must arrange for adequate financing to complete the master's program. hadn t uq[packed before I was ushered to the~tiny kitchen to have borsch (beet' soup), tomatoes, meet at the mall. -Ukraine Continued from page 1 brought smiles to thousands of Ukrainians as we trekked across the country), Chris Giles of the Muscatine Journal, Vladimir and the taxi driver. Unfortunately they didn't have any warm water for the three days they were there. After the Ottings were settled, I was finally taken to the home of Beautiful church paintings Beautiful artwork and over 120 paintings grace the gateway church to the Kiev Pecherska Lavra Monastery. Gold is used for decoration. Opera House One of the more famous spots in Kiev is the Opera House. Note the Ford Motor sign. August was vacation month for both the opera and circus. Lenin covered Statues of Lenin and Stalin in Ukraine have mostly been torn down. A huge curtain covers this statue in the former Lenin Cultural Center until it can be removed. Kalona News publisher Ron Slechta toured the facility while in Kiev. cucumbers, cottage cheese, bread, and a homemade fruit drink. Once I had unpacked, Kate took me for a brief walk around the neighborhood. She and her grandparents live in an area of many embassies, not too far from the main downtown business district. It is one of the safest areas because of the large number of embassies. When we returned to the apartment, Grandma insisted it was time to eat again. I had been cautioned that I'd probably lose weight while in Ukraine because the food may not agree with me. I didn't lose weight as most of the food was very appetizing and delicious. Kate's grandmother, Niila, fed me as though I was her own grandchild and the people of Lviv fed us continuously. I ate a number of things I had never heard of and would not normally have the opportunity to eat. Trying to be a good guest, I tried everything, including the vodka. What kept me from gaining weight was trying to keep up with the walking habits of my hosts. Ukrainians believe in walking everywhere, as much as possible. And it seemed like every place we had to go was on the top floor of buildings without elevators. It was almost like boot camp until my legs and lungs got in shape. Since that first day included flying through a short night I didn't include any other activity and wi~ ( able to rest and get ready for the first full day of activities on Saturday. Saturday, August 20 Vladimir established a pattern of running an hour or so behind schedule. After e-mail (e-mail is a very popular means of communication in Ukraine. Most business cards include e-mail addresses) is sent, it is off for some sight seeing. Due to our late start, we see only one of two planned centers. We visit the Kiev- Pecherska Lavra Monastery, founded in 1051. It is one of the most famous and largest lavra's in Europe. Here we discovered that the Ukrainians are learning capitalism fast. Fee to enter is 50 cents for Ukrainians, $2 for foreigners. If you want to take photos, it is another $3. An English speaking tour guide is another $2 (about 90,000 coupons of which the guide gets only 12,000 coupons or abut 25 cents). The center features a number of chapels and buildings now converted into museums. The chapels feature beautiful paintings on the walls, and many religious icons inlaid with tons of gold. Fortunately most of the chapels and cathedrals were not destroyed by the communists. Our guide does inform us that she is now free to speak about how Stalin did destroy the main cathedral of the Monastery. There is now enough money available to completely rebuild that facility. Throughout the tour the guide proudly states her beliefs and expresses her sincere pleasure at now having freedom of speech. For years she was able to only speak what was permitted. She firmly believes that despite severe economic times now, Ukraine will continue to remain independent because people want to keep the freedoms they now enjoy. Our guide led us through the caves under the monastery where monks are buried in open caskets and don't decay despite no special preservatives. Before entering the caves, the women in our group had to place a scarf or other covering over their heads. Candle light is all that is allowed as you meander your way through the underground chapels and corridors. The way back out is lined with souvenir hawkers. One of the most welcomed stops is a stand that sells Pepsi. Although I'm not a Pepsi fan, it sure helps quench a huge thirst. Ukrainians don't seem to need as much drink as Americans. They can walk lbr hours without stopping to drink. About 4 p.m. we had borsch and some sandwiches at a downtown restaurant. When we went outside we discovered the wine for which we paid 70,000 coupons inside, sold for only 35,000 coupons at a street vender. When we arrived, a $1 bill was worth 43,000 coupons. When we left, the rate of exchange was 55,000 coupons tor $1. I was returned to Kate's flat where I was again fed borsch and another meal. After that Kate and I took a 3-hour walk to downtown Kiev, through Independence Mall, up a very steep hill and back downtown to take the subway home. The Kiev Subway is some 160 feet underground. Fortunately, the escalators worked, but it seemed like we would never get to the bottom. We rode two different trains to give me exposure to three different subway stations. The more modern-stations have beautiful paintings on the arched ceilings, similar to the ancient cathedrals in the city. The older stations, built under Soviet rule, are dark and drab looking. Nothing is very well lighted in Ukraine. Electric lights are used very sparingly due to cost of energy which is still controlled by Russia. Our exit is near the Golden Gate, one of the gates in the original wall around Kiev. It has been rebuilt to resemble the original structure. Stones of the original gate are housed inside and are in their original location. On our retorn to the fiat, Grandma insists we eat again. Sunday, August 21 Sunday's activities included a visit to the War Memorial which featured crudely made statues to the soldiers who had fought in various wars including the Great Patriotic War (World War II). It also has a very large statue referred to as "The Iron Lady" and is not appreciated by Ukrainians. They consider it another part of the ugly Soviet architecture thrust upon them. The war memorial does include a special salute to the children of war. Communists had required children 14 and older to enter the military. Now every 18 year old must serve in the military service unless they are students. The museum does include a special movie. Although it is all in Russian, it is a very emotional movie. At the end it calls for children of all nations to throw away their play guns and only play with toys of peace. It asks adults not to give gifts of toy weapons. It urges teaching children about living peacefully, not to play war games. We were unable to tour the Afghanistan museum as it was closed, although post hours said it was supposed to be open. Early into the trip we were told to expect things to be closed when they were supposed to be open and vice versa. Most stores closed from 2 to 3 p.m. and are open until 6 to 8 p.m. We conclude our day with a lunch at a cellar that formerly served as an ammunitions depot. We have a stew in a special crock, garlic bread topped with tomatoes and sausage plus some borsch. Table napkins were newsprint cut into squares; same paper used for toilet paper. Monday, August 22 Activities were to start at 9 a.m. Monday, but as we were to soon learn, a regular schedule was not to be expected. Vladimir finally arrived, with the rest of the group at Kate's place about 11 a.m. After he e-mailed a message to ICCJ in Grinnell via a McIntosh notebook computer, we were off to our first official duty. Due to lateness of our start, an appointment with a TIlE KALONA NEWS - Tllur~laY, Small apartment Kate lived with her grandparents in a four one bedroom, living/dining room, den, facilities. This is a view of the kitchen. Ho~ the washer in the kitchen. newspaper had to be canceled. We delicious never did visit a newspaper office, with First stop was University of Kiev the 10:30 p.lll. where we briefly visited the School. ride tel of Journalism and were given a tour by Maxim Karas, one of the o , students who was in Iowa City last profc, summer. Since August is vacation month His in Ukraine, we weren't able to see 900s any of the professors or any blood, classrooms. We were shown where the statues of Stalin and Lenin once stood. We did find the staff of the later tbrmer Tass News Agency busy at menabet' work. They now distribute news one and commentary to newspapers coralau throughout Ukraine. They do not charge for services, but instead Fie newspapers run advertisements they rule, a sell in exchange for the news articles. Displayed on the wall is a large poster of Las Vegas. SoVl 'ri~e journalism school is located have in a m~,lern building that used to world, serve as a Communist Party school. Its beauty is marred by the the fact that the grass hasn't been cut in fo~ several years. Later we learn that cutting grass or keeping a lawn groomed is not a priority. Often up goats and other livestock help keep the weeds down. Next we meet up with the Ottings and visit the IntelNews agency which is an English language publication that is distributed to embassies, wou newspapers, businesses, etc.' at a to cost of $1,900 a year. It is owned by an American of Ukrainian descent, visi Before moving on to our appointment at the United States Information Service, we have an American hot dog on a dry l,arns Ukrainian bun and drink an American-style citrus drink purchased from a street vender. We felt some comfort in knowing we were drinking something American since we were told not to drink the on local water. There are many street venders stt hawking "American style" beverages and food throughout the business and residential areas of Kiev --- Mars ice cream bars, Koca Kola (Coca Cola) stands as well as Pepsi and Marlboro cigarettes. At the US Information Service, we were warmly received by the new director, Jim Seward, who had only been in Kiev a ~,eek. He was enthusiastic about the ICCJ program. His assistant was also pleased that an effort was being made to improve the generally poor journalistic skills of most Ukrainian newspapers. The ICCJ program that took us to Ukraine is funded by the information agency. There we learned of other grant possibilities to continue the journalism training program. That concluded our official duties in Kiev. I was returned to Kate's flat where I had an interview with Kate's grandfather and another View of Lavra From the belfry, one has a good, panoramic view of the Kiev Pecherska Dnipro River. At left is the only cathedral that was blown up by Stalin World War II. Plans call for rebuilding that facility. I ] I I[