In the fall of 2001, Jane Cooper took up a volunteer position funded by a Canadian organization, and moved to Odessa, Ukraine to work on a community development project. During the week she worked with a local NGO and a high school, and on the weekends became friends with a group of young Ukrainians who wanted to practice English and exchange ideas about the wider world.
For 10 months, from the fall, through the winter and into the next summer, Jane lived on the fifth floor of a Soviet-era apartment block, shopped at the local street bazaar and explored the city on public transport, pondering the past, present and uncertain future that her new friends faced.
This travelogue is a series of vignettes describing life in this corner of the former Soviet Union, written originally for a community newspaper based in Eastern Ontario, Canada – The Winchester Press.
It is over ten years since Jane completed this assignment in Ukraine, and many things have changed. Some of the challenges described may be less of a problem in 2012, but many of the observations will ring true with travelers in Ukraine today.