Tetyana Strelchenko, IREX Alumni Coordinator, Kyiv

One day. Capturing the Moments

8.45 a.m.

It’s a gloomy, dull, misty morning. The roofs of Kyiv skyscrapers are blurred by a thick greyish fog. The suburban district where I rent an apartment usually is pretty sunny but today it very much resembles the East End of London – all foggy and hazy.

Sleepy and tired, I’m taking a bus – a yellow “marshrutka” which is always packed with people. Usually it takes me 45 minutes to get to the center of the city where my office is located; today it has taken me more than an hour.

Going up Volodymyrska Street, I’m observing the city with much interest; my major goal today is to notice something extraordinary, to capture the moments. Usually on my way to the office I meet the same people, who probably have the same time-schedule as I do. There’s a middle-aged skinny man who’s always late for his work: he never walks, he always runs. On the corner of Saksaganskogo Street, I frequently see a boy with chestnut-brown hair, he sells phone-cards. Very often I meet an elderly grey-haired man who walks his elderly grey-haired badge-dog; the man and the dog look so much alike that it always makes me smile.

Yet today everything is different. There’re no familiar faces – only street houses and leafless trees are watching me running to the office.  I notice that on a tall polar tree the last leaf is left. Its emerald-green color brightens my mood.

9.57 a.m.

I’m entering the office-building: it’s time to start my working day. I work as an alumni coordinator at Ukrainian office of International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). We have a range of programs in media, civil society and education. Our education programs enable emerging leaders from Ukraine to study and receive professional training in the United States. I love my job, I’m happy to work with our bright alumni. Upon their return to Ukraine they are making a real change in their local communities.

Today I’m assisting our alumni to conduct their youth projects. For instance, UGRAD alumna Oksana Koval currently implements the Living Library initiative in Chernigiv. The goal of this interactive event is to promote multiculturalism, to value cultural diversity and to build cultural bridges between different countries and nations. At the same time our alumni steering committee members are preparing “Access to Public Information” campaign.  The purpose of it is for alumni to feel equipped to empower their communities to use their rights. Another task I’m working on is organizing the Alumni Book Club. In January 2012, alumni will meet and discuss the book by Jack Kerouac “On the Road”. To make all these wonderful things happen, right now I need to prepare materials, answer alumni questions, send dozens of emails and make dozens of phone calls.

1.15 p.m

I’m taking a lunch break in a small café near my office. As a compliment to a healthy food, I order chicken soup and rice with vegetables. While eating, I’m observing café visitors – mostly university students. They’re laughing and discussing their upcoming exams. I feel a bit jealous: I miss those free, happy university years.

On my way back to the office I feel the pulse of the big city. Kyiv is full of surprises. There’s a bouquet of colored balloons hanging on a young maple tree, and the words “I love you” are painted on the pavement on Saksaganskogo Street.  Despite the gloomy weather, love is in the air and I can breathe it.

4 p.m.

My boss and I are conducting a webchat conference to present the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD). The program is sponsored by US Department of State. It provides fully-funded undergraduate study abroad in the US to the brightest students from Ukraine and other countries in Eurasia and Central Asia. Being myself an alumna of this program, I’m answering the questions of students from 15 different regions in Ukraine. It’s total fun!


Back home. Usually I prefer to spend my evenings in the center, hanging out with my friends or attending cultural and social events. However, today I feel like I want to have a very quiet, very cozy evening at my apartment with a cup of green tea and a really good book. I‘ve got both. The green jasmine tea smells like summer, and the book is funny and interesting.


Before falling asleep, I’m thinking about all the little things that have happened to me today. Nothing special, but I do feel that my day was full of wonders and little adventures. I’m grateful to my destiny for each moment and I’m all ready to continue my unique life-journey.



  1. Hi Tetyana, I enjoyed your comments! Kiev had similar weather when I visited but I loved it there. I have read “On the Road”. I enjoyed it! Best wishes! Tom

    1. Hi Tom! Thank you! It’s a real winter in Kyiv now:) Snowy and frosty!
      P.S. I’ve finished “On the Road” – what a book!

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