But I did see, repeated all over Ukraine, one change I found tremendously encouraging. In my first experiences in Ukraine, in 2009 and 2010, I constantly struggled to convey the idea that change could come from everyone. There was then a disappointment with the leadership of the nation, but no sense that that was changeable; the same sense of "it's someone else's job" was in museum work. The rare instances of initiative and teamwork were cheering, but few and far between. More than once, I heard people say, "We like a strong leader," as an excuse for not doing something and waiting for the leadership, in government or the museum, to make change. The top picture here was, until just two weeks ago, the perch of a large Lenin statue in Kharkiv--the idea of the strong leader physically as well as pyschically, remained in many Ukrainian cities, towns and villages until just the past year. But days before our arrival, down it came.
Ukraine's challenges are many--and they're not going to be solved by bake sales. There's no question that people are tired, tired of uncertainty, tired of war, tired of death. But I was heartened by the determination of people I met, of different ages, from all different places in Ukraine, who understand that the responsibility for change rests with everyone, not just those leaders on those pedestals. It was amazing to see the change--to see a bit of the future in such an uncertain time.