During the youth exchange “Myth Chernobyl” our group met few times with the members of the Association of graphic designers «4 Block». They are the former Chernobyl disaster fighters (so-called liquidators) so they told us a lot about the disaster. We also used their posters for our exhibition.  And we voted for the best cards in their postcards contest. That’s what they wrote about the contest on their site:

To the 25th anniversary of the biggest anthropogenic disaster of human civilization Association of graphic designers «4 Block» has invited professional designers and students to participate in the action POSTCHERNOBYLCARD. We have asked designers from 20 countries to develop double-sided postcard. On the front side of a postcard was created the image which is reflecting their ideas about Chernobyl disaster. Best postcards was printed and distributed in clubs, cafes, restaurants and other public places after 26th of April, 2011.

I post here the cards winners. I still have few of them, so if anyone wants to have one I can send :)



“Myth Chernobyl”: learning, discussing, creating…

I remembered this episode of my life because today, April 26, is the 26th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster. 

One year ago in April I participated in a youth exchange “Myth Chernobyl” organized by SVIT-Ukraine and the association of graphic designers “4th Block” in Kharkov. There were about 20 young people from Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine. The aim of this youth gathering was to learn about Chernobyl and nuclear energy in general and to make a kind of exhibition for the 25th anniversary of the disaster. I liked the topic and the task, I was hoping for better and I was enthusiastic.

About the daily life of the group. We were living in a dormitory, with one shower for all 20 people. I lived in worse conditions so for me it’s all the same, I could survive it. But for many of girls (we were mainly girls) it was a real problem. We were eating in the same café (the next street) two times per day.  We were fed up with it very quickly. The office where we could use internet, was the next street after the café. The Belgians liked to say that in Kharkov there are only 3 streets :) We spent in this district almost the whole time. Once we had a trip to Krasnokutsk dendrarium in Kharkov region. This was a nice journey even if I’ve been there two times before. In total I think that the Europeans were suffering a lot from our conditions. And they were shocked to see snow in the middle of the April :)

About the work and exhibition. Actually I haven’t done so much for this. The first week we were just talking and discussing. A lot of people and all of them see the problem from different points of view. I would say that it’s good in some respect, but only if you can organize the work of the group very well. It was not done in this way so for a long time we had nothing but the complete chaos of ideas and opinions. Some of us ran away from that chaos and organized a PR team to promote something we didn’t know what exactly. The last week of the exchange passed for me in front of the pc: writing advertisements, press release, promoting, making leaflets and so on. Also we made a kind of flash mob.


I don’t know how the other team, creating one, has agreed on something, but the guys did a good job. Of course we also helped them but only doing some manual work. They invented a lot of interesting and unusual exhibits and installations like a menu of nuclear disasters, a “dead” city under polyethylene, a cloud of nuclear dust, a map of Europe with atomic power plants, a wheel of fortune representing different diseases and many others.

Also we made few videos to show in a small room – about our vision of Chernobyl, about alternative sources of energy and a short advertisement “don’t step on radiation”.

All this took place in an art-basement of Kharkov municipal gallery. In the evening of the first day of the exhibition there was organized a kind of drum concert.

Though I didn’t like so much the organization of our work and of the whole exchange, the idea was pretty good. And I do really admire the people that can invent such things. They made the great exhibition just in few days.

The articles about the exhibition in local news (in Russian) here and here.

Some more photos.

YOU(th) can volunteer! The first SCI live talkshow

On 29th of March this year a live talkshow about volunteering was organized by SCI. There were interviews with the volunteers from different branches and working groups of SCI and the videos about the volunteer projects in several countries (like Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Switzerland, Kosovo, Kenya etc).

Here is the recording of the show.

I guess it was a good idea to let people know about volunteering and especially about the workcamps. I was made mostly for those who just want to start doing this. The guests of the talkshow were talking a lot about the basics of volunteering and about the organization of the workcamps. So I haven’t heard almost anything new there. Though I have now better idea about what Peace caravan is. Also I liked to watch it because I wanted to see people involved in the show: there were volunteers who I know personally or who I heard about and wanted to get to know. So for me it was about people. But I would recommend everyone interested in volunteer work to watch this talkshow.

BTW. Briefly SCI (Service Civil International) is a volunteer organization that has branches in many countries in the world and organizes workcamps, youth exchanges and other volunteer stuff.

“The Match” shooting in Kharkov and When finally we will be able to watch it?

Now the Russian film “The Match” is being discussed everywhere. The date of the release in Russia is 1st of May 2012 as I read. But the question is when we can watch it in Ukraine because the Ukrainian authorities want to forbid the movie to be shown before the Euro-2012. They think that “The Match” could cause a negative attitude towards German players during the Euro. I agree, it can be a problem. Football fans have enough of conflicts even without remembering the events of 1942. Some articles on this topic:

The Death Match: Football against Fascism

Forbidden film

“The Match” is timed to 70 years after the football match between Ukrainian and German teams. It was a so-called “deathmatch”. According to a legend the Ukrainian players were killed or repressed after they won this game. Well, who knows what really happened, something may be truth something not. I don’t want to judge this.

Actually just wanted to write about the filming coz I took part in a crowd scene in the movie. Some of the scenes were shot in Kharkov because the streets of our city are still like they were in Soviet cities before the war. One of the scenes was about the Germans entering Kiev. They needed there a lot of people and it happened that I also decided to participate and to experience the filming process. It is worth to do if you’re curious and have nothing else to do :)


They asked to bring my own clothes so I found some old ones that fit to the time at home.  At 7 am I was there with my fiancé, we changed clothes and went to hairdressers. The hairdressers had a really tiresome job: to make the hair to a hundred of people in one hour and then to run around the whole day to correct it.

The conditions of the work of extra players (and us among them) were also not very good. The filming day was supposed to last from 7am to 7 pm. We were not allowed to leave the street where the shooting took place even for the break. So very soon we were hungry and exhausted. There were some clever experienced people who brought the food with them, but we were not between them. There was tea, coffee, water and some cookies for free, but one can’t live one this the whole day. Finally we could escape and go to McDonald’s nearby. It was funny to eat there wearing such clothes.


The filming process itself was also very tiring: to do the same actions many many times the whole day. How people survive doing this every day? I don’t understand.  Of course we finished not at 7 but about 8 or 9 pm. And of course everybody (hundred or some hundreds of players?) wanted to enter the building to change clothes and to take money at the same time. The queue was unreal. Our people would definitely win “the most chaotic and quarreling queue” prize. So we left the filming place to have a walk and to eat something. It was a strange feeling to walk around the center of the city in our costumes :) I felt myself very silly. Anyway we came back around 10 or 10.30 pm, there was almost nobody left. So we could change the clothes and take the money easily. Finally the day was over. I have never been so exhausted! I can’t imagine this poor girl leading these crowd scenes every single day: to come before everybody, to explain what to do to this stupid people and to leave after everybody.

Of course I also liked to do this. I always wanted to know how it is going on, this filming process. So I’m satisfied :) But I would not like to do it again, it’s too stressful for me.

Photos from our filming day.

Христос воскрес! The night of the Orthodox Easter

Today we celebrate Paskha (Easter) – the biggest and the most important religious holiday in Orthodox Christianity. In Ukrainian language it is called “The Great Day” (“Великдень”). And it is really the greatest day of the whole year. I like to celebrate it and I’m always looking forward to it.

(taken from here)

I am not a very religious person, I don’t follow the Christian rules, don’t keep the fast and not well informed about other Orthodox holidays. I visit churches only as a tourist and I like them from architectural point of view. But one day (actually night) per year I always attend a service at some church. This day is Easter of course.

As far as I remember myself my grand-dad always took me to the church for the Easter. We woke up about 4 am, took a basket with kulitchi (cakes), eggs and so on, went to bless them to the church nearby, stayed there for not a long time and came back home. I grew up. Now I go to the church with my friends for the Easter service every year. It starts with a long ringing of bells and the religious procession. It’s my favorite part. I don’t know why but I love so much these church bells. I feel it with all my soul and it’s one of the best feelings I ever had in my life. Then the service continues in the church. About 3 am there is another procession outside: people stand around the church with their baskets and with candles, a priest go around and sprinkle them (people and baskets:)) with holy water. It depends of the priest, but usually you get almost completely wet after this :) Then the wet and happy people go home to sleep. But the service continues and the priests make few more processions.

the Easter night

I go home after the first blessing. This time I was at the cathedral in the center so I had to take a subway. It is the only day when the public transportation works the whole night. So many people there after the service, almost like during the rush hours! And everybody is with the baskets :) I was happy that it is over and I can go home. It is very tiresome and stressful to stand for three hours. After this I feel good because of the holiday and I feel bad because my back and legs hurt just awfully. I even think every time that I will not do it anymore but the next year if somebody proposes me to go to the church I answer “yes, of course!”. Surprisingly a lot of people go to the church and stand the whole mass. There are also a lot of youth and children.

I have to say that I don’t know almost anything about the services at the church. But every time I listen to it and notice something new for me. The last year I got to know that they use other languages during one part of the service (like Greek, Latin, English etc). This time I heard the Creed and was very proud of myself that I can recognize it :) Maybe the next year I could already sing something, but I doubt.

Sunday morning people start to call or to meet to congratulate each other with the holiday. This day instead of the usual greetings they say “Христос воскрес!” – Christ is risen! And the answer is “Воистину воскрес” – In truth risen. People give cakes and colored eggs to each other. At our home we make a lot of Paskha cakes and eat them for a week or two. I love them and I can eat it as a normal meal three times per day or even more. It’s always so pity when they finish coz no one do it more than once per year. So my Paskha cakes time has started today!!

this year Paskha cakes that I will eat soon :)

Paskha cakes from some other year


Chernovtsy: another magical city in Western Ukraine

Chernovtsy (or Chernivtsi in Ukrainian way) is a city in Western Ukraine, the historical center of Bukovina region. For a long time I wanted to visit this city because it was the place where the story of my favorite book of my childhood took place. The right moment came and I and my fiancé went to Chernovtsy within our Ukraine-Moldova trip.

After arriving in Chernovtsy early in the morning we tried to reach our host’s home. It was our first experience of staying at some couchsurfer’s place so I was excited and afraid at the same time. We had an address of the girl that had to host us, we knew the way to her home and of course we got lost in her district. Finally we found the apartment we needed, entered there and were very surprised if not to say shocked: in her 2-rooms flat she hosted 6 more couchsurfers. It turned out that these days there was a poetry festival “Meridian Chernowitz” and all others came to Chernovtsy for this festival.

It was a strange company of kind of eco-people: 3 Germans, 1 Ukrainian who was speaking German perfectly, 2 Moldovans and two of us. The whole morning the conversation was in German and I was sitting there like an idiot trying to catch some words. Our host didn’t know any German neither, she was laughing all the time and making photos of everybody. Very stressful first experience, I would say :) During this talk it turned out that I know one of the German guys. I met him in summer 2010 at the buffalo farm in Zakarpattia region, where I and my group from a workcamp spend one weekend and this guy was volunteering there. The world is so round! (I mean here that the world is very small. My fiance said that I can’t use the word “round”. I just translated literally a Russian expression. I leave this sentence how it is now, because it’s boring to say “small” and I don’t know how to say it in other way ^^)

In some time we went out and plunged in the city. I wanted to see everything there. Oh, I really love this place! It is quite small and there are not so many attractions. However it is a very beautiful city with everything that I like: multicolored churches, old narrow streets, pedestrian streets full of restaurants and hundreds of architectural monuments. Firstly I compared it with other Ukrainian cities in this style: Lviv and Uzhgorod. But Chernovtsy has its own specific face and charm. I can’t explain it in a proper way, but it’s a really marvelous city.

Chernivtsi street

Town Hall

Chernivtsi cathedral

Theater square

Besides just walking along the streets we also visited some events of the poetry festival. We have been to a presentation of Paul Celan’s poems in the house where he was living. We also went to the presentations of French and German poetry. In general there were a lot of events in different places the whole day during three days, so we missed a lot. But the festival was not our aim but a pleasant supplement to our city tour. And it helped us to enter the local university for free.

on Paul Celan's house

Meridian Chernowitz, German poetry

The university of Chernovtsy is its main sightseeing place. And usually you should pay to enter there if you’re not a student. But as I said with a leaflet of the festival you can go there without paying. That’s what we did. It is huge and beautiful. It was built as a residence of Bukovina Mitropolit in a byzantine and roman style. Then in 1875 it became a university. The left part of the building is the faculty of Philosophy. It has a very romantic courtyard. I felt in love with this courtyard, I can clearly imagine how it makes easy to think about some philosophical matters… The students in Chernovtsy are very lucky :)

on the way to Chernivtsi university

Chernivtsi university

I forgot to write that we gave an interview about the festival to some channel. Unlike my fiancé I am really bad in speaking and I don’t like cameras, but there was no chance to escape. I hope it was a local channel and if I was shown on TV nobody I know has watched it.

We finished the day in Chernovtsy with a concert organized within the festival. It took place at the summer theater of a city park and was a combination of the poetry and the rock music. I found this a very impressive show. I have never thought that a poetry festival can have so many diverse events. And I had no idea that there is such a famous festival in Chernovtsy so that many people from other countries participate in it. Here is an official website of the “Meridian Chernowitz” festival”:

We left Chernovtsy the next morning and I was sad about it… But Moldova waited for us, we bought the bus tickets to Balti and continued our trip.

More photos of Chernovtsy here.

Khmelnitskiy, Ukraine

Firstly we didn’t plan to go to this city. But the connection between Kharkov and Chernovtsy was not comfortable, and the easiest way to get to Chernovtsy was through Khmelnitskiy. We spent only few hours (from 3pm until about 10pm) there but it was quite enough. From the first view I didn’t like the city – it was even dirtier and more destroyed than Ukrainian cities usually are. In the end of the day I still couldn’t call it beautiful, but there are some interesting places and things that I liked.

In the center of Khmelnitskiy there is a pedestrian street with a lot of cafes near the park. I really love such places and it’s still something special for me because in Eastern Ukraine we usually don’t have this. Of course in the central park we found a Shevchenko monument. What is a city in Ukraine that doesn’t have any Shevchenko monument?

Khmelnitskiy, Shevchenko monument

Another park in Khmelnitskiy is situated along the river Yuzhnyi Bug and is quite strange place. The river is very dirty but we saw there some fishermen.  Don’t know what they try to catch there. Some parts of the park look like wild, and just near there are some restaurants, monuments, distractions for children. Just a very strange place.

Khmelnitskiy, a park near Southern Bug

The biggest surprise for me was that there are no cathedrals or churches in the center or just somewhere in a plain view. We found several churches that were hidden on the backyards of living houses. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Usually it’s opposite and the churches are one of the main attractions in the city.

Khmelnitskiy, a church

About the language. From my point of view Khmelnitskiy was definitely a Western Ukrainian city. Then once I got to know one couple from there and they were speaking surzhik – a mix of Russian and Ukrainian languages. I asked them about the languages in Khmelnitskiy, and they said that people speak mostly Russian and they speak surzhik because they came from a kind of village in Khmelnitskiy region. I was wondering why it is like this, I thought that in Western Ukraine people speak mostly Ukrainian. At this point they seemed to be surprised. They said me that Khmelnitskiy is in the center of the country and has nothing to do with the West. Western Ukraine is somewhere further in the West, maybe near Lviv… I was very confused. They destroyed my image of Ukraine. Anyway, when we were in Khmelnitskiy I really noticed that a lot of people speak Russian.

Until recently I didn’t know that there is a panorama museum in Khmelnitskiy. Now I regret it very much coz I’m a fan of panoramas and want to see each of them.  I would not like to come back to this city just because of this, but who knows? Maybe I will do one day. Another thing that we missed is Khmelnitskiy region. It is much more interesting than Khmelnitskiy itself. For example the famous Kamenets-Podolskiy fortress.

Kamenets-Podolskiy fortress

 Some info about Khmelnitskiy and its region.

And some more of my photos from Khmelnitskiy.