Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Work and Play

Our plans today took us in different directions. Erik worked diligently on his book in the morning (and he has made significant progress since our arrival) and then began preparing for the afternoon roundtable. Anatoliy Romanyuk (a faculty member at Ivan Franko National University) organized the event for members of local political parties and the media. The main theme was standards for free and fair elections and their application in Ukraine. Erik had to prepare about 5 minutes of material since his remarks would be translated. As he worked on this project, Lea and Carter went off to see Jani and Thomas.

Lea, Carter and their friends did the downtown route, showing them Carter's regular pigeon-feeding spot, and of course, stopping to feed the birds. They walked through the art market, looking at the souvenirs and stopped in a gallery and a toy store. They walked to Carter's new favorite playground, way up the hill, to enjoy the merry-go-round (yes, they still have them here). The playground also has other modern Ukrainian playground equipment, much of which you would not find in the US (such as hot metal slides). They returned to the front of the Opera House, where children can rent and drive motorized cars for 3 grivnya for 2 minutes. Thomas enjoys this, but Carter showed us his inability to steer last night on the bike, so he may have to wait a bit to start driving. The boys then blew and chased bubbles in the middle of Prospekt Svobody before locating horse chestnuts (which the Brits call conkers, we learned) and throwing them.

Erik's roundtable event started at 3pm and lasted until about 4:20 in the conference room of He, Anatoliy, and Yuriy Shveda (another IFNU faculty member) said a few words, then the floor was opened to the audience. The first question came from a representative of the Svoboda Party (see our previous post about this party). Actually, he had a long commentary punctuated by a few questions. Erik stepped in to answer one, then realized that this was not really the format for the roundtable. Rather, the audience was given an opportunity to chime in on the topic, with Erik, Anatoliy, and Yuriy making brief concluding remarks. Erik understood some of the conversation - certain speakers were easier to follow than others - and made reasonable comments. Or, he understood little and made complete non-sequiturs. In any case, he enjoyed the event and will probably participate in more as the election approaches.

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