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Group at Kiev's Golden Gate I worked with this group of young people from Lipscomb University. Together, we enrolled about 211 Ukrainians in conversational English lessons. Several members of the group were in Kiev for the second year in a row. I am standing, the second from the left. Pictured at the Golden Gate, the Medieval entrance to Kiev. The names of the group are: Standing (from L-R) Kevin Minister, Roger Merritt, Mitch Edgeworth, Josh Boyd, Heather Hutcheson, Robyn Ealy, Misty Dennard, and Donnie Freeman. Kneeling (from L-R) Chris Lovingood, Jennifer Foster, Luke Shouse, Kristen George, and Amy Morrison. Not pictured are Michelle Swenson, and Scott Broadway (who were taking the pictures).

St. Sophia, KievThis is the bell tower of St. Sophia Cathedral, which is the oldest Russian Orthodox church of all, and a beautiful symbol of Kiev.

Click here for a map of Ukraine

May - June 1993

Since its heyday as the cradle of Slavic civilization in the 9th-11th centuries, Kiev has endured time as a Mongol protectorate, a Russian and later Soviet provincial capital, a Nazi battleground and now, as capital of independent Ukraine. Kiev's population of 2.5 million people, like most people in Eastern Europe, had experienced profound changes in the early 1990s. Like a lot of people in the West, I was deeply curious about the way things were taking shape, and what it must be like to live under those conditions.

I wanted to teach conversational English somewhere in Eastern Europe for quite some time. It was just a matter of finding a group from the States to link up with, and when I heard about a group from David Lipscomb University, of Nashville, Tennessee (my alma mater), that was going to Kiev, I thought to myself, "I'd better do it now, or I may never get another chance!" It did, however, take some convincing to get into the group (since they did not know me very well), and my wife was not exactly willing for me to go, either, but I was rather determined to go.

I was living in London at the time, so I got my visa at the Ukrainian Embassy (located in Notting Hill, London), and arranged my own flight with Air Ukraine, and flew to Kiev on May 3, 1993 for six weeks. I got there a full day before the Lipscomb group so that I could meet the full-time missionaries, and arrange a flat to live in. Fortunately, this turned out to be simpler than I expected, for we found a small flat in Borschagovka in an average housing block for a reasonable price in U.S. Dollars. This was, believe it or not, found in a newspaper classified ad, and it worked out just fine for me. The only hitch was that I was going to be living alone, which did not bother me, but once I got situated, I realized that I was a long-way away from any of the American's that I was working with, so I had to be a little more cautious when I was on my own. I had to look out for myself, and that with a limited Russian vocabulary!

There were two Lipscomb graduates already living in Kiev named Mike and Scott, who had been there for almost a year, and were working with the church, and taught English at School #135 where we would be working. There was also an American family, named the Johnson's, who were full-time missionaries that we would see quite often. I had to quickly familiarize myself to the area I was living in (West Kiev), and be able to get to School #135 on my own, using the tram and metro. Public transport was usually a very up-close-and-personal way to interact with people (like sardines). When the Lipscomb group arrived, they were split-up into four flats in different locations.

At the end of our six-weeks we went on a well planned trip to the Crimea for a weekend. All in all, it was a wonderful experience that I will never forget, but there were some difficult situations that I'm sure would test the character of most American's. Such as, faulty utilities, bread shortages, language barriers, and living without an automobile, to name a few. Read the full story of my experience in the Ukraine, and see if you would have lasted for six weeks.

Click here to read my Kiev Diary

Here I am pictured with a babushka at the Folklore Museum, south of Kiev. This was a beautiful outdoor museum with authentic houses, churches, and barns representing all the regions of the Ukraine. This was one of the highlights of the trip, but it was hard to get to. In fact, a friend and I hitchhiked there because of infrequent bus service. Roger beside babushka at Folklore Museum

Interfax-Ukraine - News
Kyiv Post
Ukraine Foreign Ministry
Ukrayinska Pravda
Map of Ukraine