(Editor’s note: the following article is provided by a group of student community reporters from Tallmadge Middle School as part of the Akron International Friendship’s Know Your World, Know Your Community project, which explores local and global diversity with area sixth-graders. This report is a profile of visitors from the Ukraine, including Viktoriya Viktorivna Baltser, Vitaliy Mykolayovych Kravchuk, and Viktor Oleksiyovych Kvasov.)
What is it like to attend school in the Ukraine for students our age (6th grade)?
School is about the same with the same type of classes. Students attend school Monday through Friday. The day begins at 9 a.m. with a 45-minute long break that follows morning classes. For lunch you can either bring your own lunch or there is a buffet to choose from. The day ends at 1 or 2 p.m.
What type of government do you have? What do you like about this type of government?
They have similar laws in the Ukraine. There are 450 representatives in their parliamentary democratic government. Like the United States, their laws apply throughout the country.
What types of jobs do most people in the Ukraine have?
Most people work in agriculture, teaching, or industries such as steelmaking. They can begin working at 16 to 18 years old.
What are the most popular stores people shop at in the Ukraine?
In the Ukraine they do have malls, but most shopping is done in a market or bazaar atmosphere. There are many supermarkets, but no places like Wal-Mart or Target or department stores like Macy’s or Dillard’s.
What is your favorite Ukrainian food?
Men love to eat beet soup, called Borsht, or bean soup. The leftover broth is frozen and eaten like salty gelatin. They love eating perogies and salads with mayonnaise. They often like eating pickles in honey.
Why did you decide to visit Ohio?
All the visitors are from small towns that are similar to Akron in size and government, so it didn’t make sense to visit a big city like New York or Chicago to view the government and businesses there. They wanted to visit with their political counterparts here in the US to share ideas and learn from each other.
About the speakers:
Viktoriya Viktorivna Baltser, Vitaliy Mykolayovych Kravchuk, and Viktor Oleksiyovych Kvasov are a part of a program called Open World (http://www.openworld.gov/). Since its founding by Congress in 1999, the Open World program has enabled some 16,000 current and future Eurasian leaders to experience American democracy, civil society and community life; work with their American counterparts; stay in American homes; and gain new ideas and inspiration for implementing change back home. More than 6,000 American host families and their communities in all 50 states have partnered with Congress and Open World to make this ambitious public diplomacy effort possible. Open World currently operates exchanges for political and civic leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
While the group was staying in Akron, Ohio the Open World delegation had meetings with the Mayor’s office, observed city planning and City Council Meetings, and visited places such as Akron Global Business Accelerator, University Park Alliance, Akron Community Foundation, Ukrainian Museum, Portage County Government Offices, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Summit County, Downtown Akron Partnership, Myers Motors, Hoban High School, and Tallmadge Middle School.
Capital City: Kyiv (Kiev)
Ukraine Population: 45.1 million (UN, 2011)
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Ethnicity: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8%
Language: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9% (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities)
Largest Cities: (by population) Kyyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Odesa, Zaporizhzhya, L’viv, Kryvyy, Mykolayiv, Mariupol, Luhansk
Name: The origin of Ukraine’s name can be traced back to ancient times, and simply means ‘land.’
National Day: August 24
Area: 233,090 sq mi
Major Mountain Ranges: Carpathian Mountians
Major Rivers: Dniper, Seversky Donets, Dnister and Southern Buh