Sunday, March 14, 2004

Meeting the Mayor

Today we met the mayor. Well, we were supposed to. i assume he had some important wheat to shuck or something. Anyway he sent his vice mayor. They explained all of the great things that are going on in B. Evidently this is one of the richest cities in the Ukraine.

This country is in real trouble.

Seriously. The poverty here is worse than Mexico. It is a country with no industry but with all the remnants of the previous industry. All of the crap and none of the rewards.

I had an interesting conversation with one woman here who described some of the resentments that exist because the lack of opportunity for the workers. They've been living with 15 years of massive unemployment. On a much smaller scale, I see that some back home in the south. There is an underlying resentment and despair that I think is directly related to the employment situation. Of course that seems obvious but I think it goes beyond the day to day attitudes but has permeated parts of the southern states. Generations have come to expect to not expect much. And when people find themselves is such a mindset, it has to have a debilitating effect on them. The US should be thinking about such things and doing something to resolve it. This goes back to reconstruction and an entire region has been lost because the federal government has simply allowed it to fall into disrepair.

Anyway, back to the mayor. We had a meeting and were allowed to ask questions. a couple of people dominated the conversation with questions about the minute details of city budgeting. I didn't understand what purpose that served and the City officials weren't inclined to open their books . I wanted to find out how to get a free tour of the town. But before you knew it they were hustling us out and bringing in another meeting. I have to wonder what the attitudes are concerning our presence. Are we taken seriously? Are we really appreciated? Are we seen as buffoons? ARe we tolerated to keep relations with the US better? Are we going to make a difference? ARe we wasting everybody's time?

Probably yes to all.

There is an opportunity to make a difference I'm sure. the key in my mind is to find a compelling project to take on. Nothing against them but I'm not here to hug orphans. That is a truly compelling need for that but I am not the person to do it. Maybe I could hang out and read and practice english etc. but we have people in our group who thrive off of that kind of interaction. I think I'll be better doing something else.

There has been some talk about how my qualifications will be great here. I hope that is true. They said that to everybody so I have to wonder if that was just platitudes.

But then I think back on what I've done and can do and some of the projects could be challenging and rewarding. I've heard about some projects here that resulted in exciting developments.

Add to Technorati Favorites