Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chronicles of the Collapse of Kiev, Edition 2015 – 1b - Finishing School Edition

Part Two - Part One Here.

So we have a son finishing school this year. And current events dictate we need to be concerned, certainly about him getting into University, but also about what should happen if the path to University gets derailed, either by not getting sufficient scores on entry exams, by ever changing and morphing mobilization laws, or by stupidity in general. Regardless, the bribery option is still alive and well and living under the junta regime, so a few well placed bribes can certainly either get him into University or get him out of the country, should it come down to that.

All sources in this update are personal experience or conversations.


Getting Ready for the End of an Uncertain School Year. Planning End of School Activities

This financial uncertainty is make it quite difficult to plan anything too far in advance. We have a son who is graduating from school this year. It is generally a tradition that on the last day of school to rent out a venue for an all-night event. Not surprisingly, at some schools they will still party as if it's 2014. They'll have the all-night event, they'll have a fancy venue, and no expense will be too much to pay. But at other schools, they'll only party like it's 2015. No all-night event. Just an average venue. And keep the costs down wherever possible. That's just the economic reality these days.

During December and January, two new students started attending our son's class. So now they needed to collect funds from two more sets of parents. We asked the one girl for her parents phone number, but she said we have to talk to her sister. It seems that this girl is from Lugansk, and the war zone. There are parents stayed behind; and sent their daughters to live in Kiev. Not with relatives, but by themselves. Obviously they have some money to be able to afford to do that, which might explain why the parents stayed behind. But yet, it's sad. This is not the first time that refugees from the war zone have come into our lives, and sadly I doubt if it will be the last time either.

After much conversation and plenty of hemming and hawing, a venue was selected. The selected venue, a late-Soviet era restaurant, gave us a fixed price, but who knows? But even then, they wanted part of the upfront price in dollars. So, at least for now, we think we have a venue. But just to get to this point, weirdness ensued. When it came time to hand over the deposit, the manager wrote out a piece of paper and signed it. No contract, just a piece of paper. He insisted that they've never used contracts in the year and a half that he's been working there. So my wife came home and looked up a blank contract on the Internet that could be adopted for this use. She filled in all the blanks and took it back to the venue to be signed. So at least there's a semi-official signed contract. It wasn't until later that my wife noticed that it was a contract form for the Russia Federation. But still that has to be better than no contract at all.

On a side note, unlike a good number of people in Kiev, this manager spoke mostly Ukrainian, in a perfect west Ukrainian accent. My wife looked him up on Facebook and sure enough, he's from L'vov, from the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism. Yeah, this is a thing over here. There's a world of difference in the Ukrainian mentality and a Russian mentality. I thought for a long time that it was mostly an exaggeration. It is not. Maybe I shouldn't go here, but I will.

The Ukrainian mentality reminds me very much of the mentality of certain minority groups in the USA. They are caught in a cycle of underachievement and low level of anger at pretty much everybody and everything. In the USA, skin color is the most noticeable physical difference, so everything gets blamed on racism. In Ukraine, the population is a lot more homogeneous. Physically, it is not possible to differentiate between the two. But mentally, they often seem to live on their own different planets. Russians have traditionally been more successful than their Ukrainian counterparts, and this difference was exploited quite successfully by those who want to sow turmoil in this part of the world. I'm sure that at least some of this hatred of all things Russian arises from this.


Part of the ritual in a child's last year of school in Ukraine is to hire private tutors to bring the child up to speed on things they fail to learn in the classroom. We're currently utilizing three different tutors. One is for Ukrainian history. Up through the middle of last year, this teacher was teaching in the Lugansk school system, but her and her husband chose to flee to Kiev. Along with other refugees from the war in the East who chose to come to Kiev, they often encounter discrimination when trying to find accommodations and employment. Those who discriminate often don't want to deal with "separatists".

Our teacher eventually found full-time work here in Kiev and tutors on the side. Her husband was offered a position in a technical capacity of some sort, but turned it down because his salary would be 3000 hyrivnia. After the recent currency devaluation, that's about $120. A month. She didn't specify what technical skills he has, so it's hard to tell why such a low rate. So he's trying his hand that computer repair. One job a day, five days a week, and he's making what he would've made in the full-time job. And it's all cash payment under the table.


Some parents are not paying school costs. There are just some school costs the government haven't been paying for, both now and under previous governments. Things like security, printers and toner and paper, and other school supplies. Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention gifts for the teachers. Gifts for birthdays, gifts for holidays, gifts that will make their job easier. Some parents likely can't afford this, so they don't pay, but one mother thinks that donating to the ATO (the Anti-Terrorist Operation, also known as Poroshenko's genocidal war), should absolve her from paying her dues to the school. But in effect, that means that the other parents end up subsidizing this mother's donations to the ATO. And a few parents are not very pleased about it.

My wife and I have decided that we will no longer pay these costs to the school either, since neither of us want to subsidize those who don't pay because they'd prefer to donate to the ATO. So we are saving up the money so that when the end of school comes around, the graduates will have a bit more to celebrate their milestone with.


Part of the last year of school ritual, here like elsewhere, is having photos taken and creating the new photo album of your school memories. Many photographers would come to the school with the camera and a few lights, sit you in the chair, and take a photograph. A few students and a few parents decided they wanted did a bit more than that. Something with props and decorations and atmosphere. But it would've cost a lot more to have the photographer bring all of that to the school, so one Saturday they trekked across town to the photographer's studio. Though one of the props the photographer had one whole bunch of letters that went arranged in the correct order spelled out "Slava Ukraina," the Bandera era Nazi slogan that's all the rage with non-thinking government supporters everywhere. Well my wife was none to pleased about that one, and she made her displeasure known. And the word started to get around our son's class. A week later there was a parents meeting at the school, and the photo with the Nazi slogan once again came up. And then a few other parents went ballistic. Not surprisingly, a good number of the students are not too pleased with this controversy. And no surprise. I'm sure the school spent a lot of time, especially this year, inculcating their impressionable minds with the new proper groupthink.


One last story before I close out this edition.

If you think that the so-called "leaders" of the free world might come to their senses any time soon, think again. We recently put in a request to have some simple routine maintenance done in the common area of our building. How routine? How about just changing some light bulbs? Well it seems the maintenance departments have their hands full these days, because they are cleaning up and renovating basements all around the city. Why? For use as bomb shelters, of course.

Aaron Talka is an American and long-term resident of Ukraine. He writes occasionally about the situation in Kiev and maintains the blog "No Bread And Circuses For You".

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments subject to moderation.

Recommended Reading via Amazon

If you're seeking more information about how the world really works, and not how the media would want you to believe it works, these books are a good start. These are all highly recommended.

If you don't see pictures above, you likely have an adblocker running.  If so, here are the links.

1. The Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein
2. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - John Perkins
3. Manufacturing Consent - Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky
4. Gladio - NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe - Richard Cottrell
5. Profit Over People - Noam Chomsky
6. Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives - Stephen Cohen
7. The Divide - American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap - Matt Taibbi

How this works.  Follow one of the links.  Should you decide to buy that item, or any item, I get a small percentage, which helps to maintain this site.  Your cost is the same, whether you buy from my link or not.  But if the item remains in the cart too long, I don't get a thing.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...