With the fact that I am leaving in just two weeks, I feel like I need to write a blog about something I love deeply. America.
I have never felt so patriotic to my country before.
But hey you readers, don't be mistaken. I LOVE UKRAINE. It's the most beautiful place I have ever lived and my heart is broken to leave. To explain what I mean I suppose I'll just ramble on about the life here of citizens- not volunteer teachers who are living the life.
More often than not when we say "we're American!" A Ukrainian soon after says with the full sincerity of their heart "oh it is my biggest dream to go to America!"
After a while us teachers had a few conversations where we said ignorant things to eachother such as "why do they want to go to America so bad? Their country is beautiful and it doesn't feel too different. I feel like they build it up so much and would be disappointed after arriving to the USA."
I wish I had never said that. You see I looked at Ukraine at face value with little respect to the things you can't see. Freedom. What a term we throw around. Recently, I saw a Facebook post that stated "Americans aren't free. We just think we are"
I hope to change this person's perspective with my small bit of experience in a second world country by reminding them that Ukrainians aren't free and they know they're not.
One night a taxi driver began with the usual statement "oh it's my dream to go to America one day!" He then explained that he loves photography but there's not a need in Ukraine for it. No one can afford it. So he can't chase his love of creating pictures for people. Him and his wife took up two jobs in order to prepare to have children. It's always nice to hear that two people are married here because it's quite the process of paper work (I mean a LOT) and what not to get married. He went on to talk about his friend who is in San Francisco who moved there from Ukraine recently. The next statement he said really imprinted in my mind, "My friend says that in America, if you work hard, you get money. Is this true?"
Floored we simply said "yes." Is that not true everywhere?well folks. It most definitely is not. Here in Ukraine, if you get a college degree, you tend to go into a career that has nothing to do with it. University is free here, though! Great huh? Well the price to pay is crappy education. But who can blame the teachers? Everyone has terrible pay here. Just enough to survive is what I've been told. Doctors make the same amount as teachers- teachers make the same as cleaning ladies- cleaning ladies make the same as office workers. Who cares if you have an education? Oh and what's a minimum wage? What's a middle class? Can you imagine having your children go to school knowing they will just have to pick from a list of jobs when they are older... So why don't they just leave the country? A Ukrainian once said it's "millions and millions of dollars to get a green card to the USA" whether this is true or not- it's simply out of reach and the reason they so often call a visit to America their "dream."
I can barely touch on the corrupt government. During elections politicians are killed in order to eliminate competition. Votes=bribes. The outcome is hardly ever what the people wish and when it is, the new president either has deceived the people throughout the election and has been corrupt the whole time, or becomes corrupt with power. Often times (all the time) I think "THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN AMERICA!" For example, when the protests here got "too big" the government simply shut down the metros (most people's mode of transportation) and turned off all internet as well as phone services to control the people. Ok-everyone say this with me "THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN AMERICA" one that has most recently blown my mind is the situation occurring in Donestk, Ukraine right now. The pro Russians and pro Ukrainians have absolutely turned on eachother. As a friend described it, "Imagine a place with no police and complete anarchy. Shootings are happening everywhere and bandits are walking the streets. The most shocking thing-Russia set their prisoners free if they promised to go to Donetsk and terrorize the town."
Together now!-"THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN AMERICA!"
In America you CAN get an education.
In America you can work hard and get paid.
In America, we care about special ed children and don't put them to the side.
In America, you can trust people and businesses. I've been told they don't trust banks here and always have cash.
America IS STILL the land of opportunities.
This freedom we can't see is not simply a useless idea we're chasing after. We have it. And we use it. and like myself, take it for granted everyday.
Why was I so very blessed to be born into a country like America? I can honestly say with all my heart that I believe it's the best country. Feel free to disagree buttt, your opinion is wrong;) all joking aside, America (and cafe rio) has this girl's heart but will always share it with Ukraine and it's amazing people here.
I love America and the sacrifices made in the past and present for my freedom and the freedom of my children. God has truly blessed America.
With that being said- I come home in two weeks. What!? Someone could pull out a calendar and prove to me that it's been that long and I still won't believe them.