Graham Seibert's Home Page
With Oksana August 2010
Kiev, October 2014
I have been in Kiev seven years. I have known Oksana for almost five, and we have been married for four. Our son Eddie is three.
My focus has shifted from work to children. Eddie is old enough to spend an increasing amount of time with his father. We have a new addition to the family. His longtime nanny, Anna, moved in along with her daughter Sophia, exactly Eddie's age. Now I have two children to teach. I read to them in Russian, English and Ukrainian.
Our summer routine was to go walking almost every morning. A short walk would take us to a small café in the neighborhood where we could watch the ducks, moorhens and other water birds as I took my coffee. Eddie loves trains. Our longer walks took us to the tramway – Eddie knows the names of every stop by heart – or the regional electric train. Each conveyance would bring us to a market, where the ladies ("babushkas," or grandmothers) love to fuss over Eddie and he engages in lively conversation.
Oksana has started three classes in our house for neighborhood kids: English, music, and Bible study. The place is generally full of children. In addition to the lessons, they absolutely adore the gym equipment Oksana had the builders put in our upstairs hall, and in the summer they love to run around on the lawn and play on the swings and sandbox. Next on Oksana's list are a slide and an outdoors jungle gym. Her lists have a way of becoming reality.
The specter of war hangs over us. Our electricity is more intermittent. The trains run less frequently, to save electricity. Some friends are in tight straits as the job market contracts and the value of the hryvnya falls. On the other hand, since the events of Maidan there has been a buoyant spirt, as the Ukrainian people seem to have at last found themselves. Though our friends almost all speak Russian among themselves, they are emphatically not Russian. Most would like to call themselves European. I am rather on my own in remarking that, no, they are better than that. Ukraine would do well to continue as it is, avoiding Europe as well as Russia to the extent possible.
We continue to be very active in Toastmasters clubs. Oksana won the national speech contest this year with a speech on teaching kids to draw. She is serving as the program chair of our native language club, and she seems to find a role for me in almost every meeting. I am fairly comfortable speaking and evaluating speeches in Russian, though I still need to get serious about learning Ukrainian.
We expect to raise our family here in Ukraine. I write that in full recognition that these are unstable times. Putin is right when he claims that he could occupy Kiev in two weeks' time. On the other hand, I also give credence to the Cassandras who foresee a major collapse of Western economies and currencies. I hope that if we continue living simply, minding our own business, raising our children as they should be raised, the sturm und drang attendant to the abrupt end of the liberal postwar idyll will pass our little backwater by.
Happiness is a hard thing to write about. One worries about jinxing it, being contradicted, and being asked to contrast it with other states of being. I've written about those contrasts in my biography and book of plans for raising Edward. It is safe to say that, however belatedly, however improbably, I've found what I had been looking for in life.
· Photos of Kiev and vacations
University of Maryland Career
Reading - Amazon reviews
I’m migrating away from Google. When companies get as rich and powerful as this (think, IBM, Microsoft) they come to believe that they own their customers. They try to force things on us (disclosing our friends, brand preferences down to Jockey vs. Hanes, personal data) that are uncomfortable, and make easy things (just sending email and sharing pictures) hard. They give in to government pressure to disclose our emails and private data. Google is violating its “Don’t be evil” credo in spades. До Свидания, Google
<img src="http://visit.webhosting.yahoo.com/visit.gif?us1233485945" alt="setstats" border="0" width="1" height="1">