Rediscovering Ukraine Post USSR
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Former Council employee, Arlene Kaufman, shares her story of revisiting Ukraine for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union while hosting her WAC tour group.
Having visited the Soviet Union with my parents (both born in Ukraine in the early 20th century) in 1976, it was fascinating for me to return to this region in 2008 following the fall of the Communist government and the return of Ukraine to independence.
Odessa was a particularly special city to visit again as I had an opportunity to get together with relatives on my father's side who are presently living there and wander through the lovely center of town with them. Another highlight of the tour was going to an opera at the magnificent opera house in Odessa which had just been newly renovated. Kiev, the city in which my mother was born, was as beautiful as I had recalled with it's post-World War II European architecture. Memories of my mother's recollections of her youth in the city during our earlier trip flooded back to me as we passed the Red University Building and the parks where she spent her childhood days.
Most remarkable to me, though, was the freedom for our tour guides and the ship's staff to speak openly about topics that were taboo more than 30 years earlier. And the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 brought back vivid memories of our guide in Sevastapol - as we looked over Russia's naval installation there - telling us how important the city was to landlocked Russia because of its access to the Black Sea and providing a premonition of things to come.