Monday, July 12, 2010

A Look Back and Forward

I've returned home to upstate New York, working on both getting back into my life here and reflecting on my second stint in Ukraine.   I had written when I first went about what I hoped to accomplish--see here.  And here's, in brief, what I did--some activities I planned on, and many I never imagined.

Workshops and Presentations
  • In Kyiv on Cultural Tourism and Collaboration.  In advance of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament which will be held in Ukraine and Poland, these are both critical issues.
  • Visitor Friendly Museums in L'viv and Kharkiv.   These workshops focused on every aspect from the visitors's perspective--from the entrance to the exhibitions.
  • Project Management:  for museum managers in Crimea
  • Oral History:  not so much a workshop as a facilitated conversation with a group of American Peace Corps volunteers in Crimea.
  • National Ethnographic Institute:  about the general work of museums
  • National Ceramic Museum in Opishne:  a reflection on my work over the past two years and the challenges facing Ukrainian museums.
Direct Work with Museums
  • Did a day of interpretive planning with a lively team from the Tusten Preserve;  other work put on hold because of their intensive efforts to stop unlawful development on this historic preserve in the Carpathians.
  • As follow-up to workshops,  worked on visitor-friendly issues and discussed audio and other archives for icons in L'viv,  exhibit concepts and design in Chernigiv,  live animal exhibits and traveling exhibit contracts for L'viv organizations.   Talked cultural tourism with the National Art Gallery;  participated in Slow Art Day.  From the street in, brainstormed ways to make the Literature Museum in Kharkiv more visitor-friendly.
  • Meet with staff at the museum at Kyiv Polytechnic University to discuss hands-on interactives
  • Continued contacts with colleagues at the Ivan Honchar Museum, the National Museum of Books and Printing, the Bulgakov Museum and the National Ceramics Museum.
  • With Dutch colleague, Mariska Schrage,  we developed plans, considered venues,  and created a budget for a Ukrainian tour of Passing on the Comfort.
  • With the State Museum of Toys, began work on plans for a United States traveling exhibition exploring the history and meaning of toys in the Soviet Union, based on their wonderful collection.
  • Began discussions about a return to Ukraine with colleagues to conduct a program audit of Pirogovo, the outdoor museum near Kyiv.
Ongoing Training
Had great, ongoing conversations with my tremendous colleagues Anna Perekhodko and Katya Chuyeva, and Linda Knudsen McAusland,  about the issues of ongoing professional development in Ukraine.   Thanks to the Fulbright Program,  was able to provide ICOM-Ukraine Committee with a selection of professional publications in English that will be made available for loan to museum colleagues throughout Ukraine.

Oh, and,  rode trams, trolley buses, regular buses, mashrutkas, planes, trains and automobiles.  Enjoyed celebrations of Easter, Victory Day and other holidays.  Heard every variety of street music through my Kyiv window, and more music in churches,  on the streets of a tiny village, at festivals and more.   Visited a dacha and a khan's palace.  Ate borscht,  Crimean Tatar food,  salo,  home-grown potatoes, pickles and raspberries.  Posted entries here and on The Pickle Project.   Learned a bit more of Ukrainian and Russian,  but still ended up with breath mints when I asked (well, pantomined) for matches.  Made many, many new connections and friends.  Wrote three articles based on my experiences here.  Discussed politics (both US and Ukrainian); watched many street protests in my neighborhood.   Got to visit Budapest and Prague and see the transformation over the last 20 years.
Drank many, many cups of coffee and tea.

My time in Ukraine was as a Fulbright Scholar--a tremendous opportunity to have an intensive experience in another culture.   If you're interested in learning more about Fulbright opportunities, click here for the Scholar Program and click here for the Student Program.

I am often impatient and want change to happen fast-but Ukraine has taught me a bit of patience.   Change is happening despite a host of obstacles.   The most important thing I accomplished, I believe, is the planting seeds for the future.  It may take a while, but sooner or later, all those great young professionals I worked with all over the country will be museum directors or working in the Ministry of Culture. So I'll end this post with the familiar quote from Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."


Anna said...

Thank you for your withes to Ukrainian colleagues!

Linda Norris said...

Anna (Anna Z?)--
My pleasure, of course. I can't wait to see what all of you accomplish!