the capital of ukraine has many names: kyiv, kiev, киев, київ, and sometimes k-backwards-n-ib for those who can’t read cyrillic. it’s not just the name of a buttery chicken dish, but where the gold domed orthodox churches almost outnumber the people, where the streets are lined with chestnut trees, and a weird mixture of range rovers, ladas, soviet era/byzantine/modern buildings co-exist.
while i may live 12+ hours by train south of kyiv, I think I’ve come to know this city better than the not-to-far-from-my-hometown city of chicago. since the peace corps office is calls kyiv its home, I’ve made many a trips here.
it’s a city that i’ve come to like, well not as much as chicago (chicago forever!), but i like it enough…maybe because i now know where to find the best falafel and cheapest beer. it’s a mecca of culture (and sometimes escape) for volunteers. we flock here not only for official peace corps business, but often in need of a fun night out, chinese food, a nice hot shower, and stuff from the second-hand free box in the office.
kyiv was the last leg of my mom and dad’s eastern european adventure, their last glimpse of ukraine. but I can’t help thinking the they would have preferred to stay back in krakow/lviv. well i mean, who wouldn’t, they’re beautiful cities! maybe it was all the ice and slush here, the crowds everywhere, the generally more “not quite as european” feel of the city.
it’s not that they completely disiked this city per say, but i think they needed more time for it to grow on them. unfortunately, they didn’t have two years to spend doing just that. but in the time they did have to spend here, i tried to show them the best of kyiv (despite the treacherous winter-but-it’s-really-spring walking). we visited almost every church, ate where the locals ate, and saw the ballet “giselle” for the equivalent of $12 each.
i just said “see ya state-side!” to my parents this morning after getting them a taxi headed for the airport. ukraine was kind enough to give them an official send-off with more snowfall! i think i can sum up their experience in ukraine with a few words: “i’m cold”. they’ll head to vienna for easter and then back home to a hopefully warmer chicago. it was weird to part with them, but also weirder that my time here is quickly quickly coming to an end.
i’ll be heading to my training host family’s house today for a short visit since this might be the last time i’ll get to see them (and enjoy my host mom’s cooking). from there i’ll go to my close of service conference with the now 90-ish other volunteers i came to ukraine with 2 years ago. i haven’t seen some my fellow volunteers in the entire time we’ve been here (ukraine is a big country) so in some ways it feels like a high school class reunion. not too long ago, it seemed like this event was so far down the road, so out of reach, but now it’s here. we’ve made it! it’s time for our group of volunteers (well, those who aren’t extending service) to begin filling-out paperwork to leave, have some last laughs, and for the most part say our good-byes. oh and it’s the one peace corps event that isn’t strictly alcohol-free, so good times are sure to be had ; )