− Abigail Poeske, representative of the “Fulbright program” in Ukraine, English Conversation teacher at the Department of Foreign Languages (Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University) about the stereotypes regarding Ukraine, limited academic freedom of Ukrainian students, hardworking Ukrainians, existing cultural and value differences between our country and USA.
1. Where are you from? Boston, MA, USA.
2. Where do you work in Ukraine? Chernivtsi National University, English Language Department in the Department of Foreign Languages. I am English Conversation teacher for 2nd and 4th year students
3. What motivated you to choose exactly this educational institution? What documents were necessary for that? I did not choose this institution – the Fulbright Program placed me there.
4. What is the fundamental difference or similarity between Ukrainian and foreign higher education system experienced by you during the first month of your work? The cheating culture, the lack of independence granted to students, the small group system (students stay with the same small core group for all 4 years). Also students have too many different classes per week.
5. How does your usual working day look like? If this means how long it lasts, it varies by day. Anywhere from 1.5-5 hours.
6. What did you know about Ukraine? What stereotypes did you have before your arrival to Ukraine (if any)? I did not know much about Ukraine. The stereotypes were that Ukrainians are hardworking people who can be rather cold to strangers, but also are hospitable. I also had heard about corruption existing here.
7. What project are you working on now? I am teaching English conversation to 4th year students and have organized a “Global Collaboration Project” to connect my 2nd year students online with Czech and American students to practice English language and discuss global issues.
8. What impressed you in the features of mentality in the country you are currently working in? I am impressed by the hard work ethic of Ukrainians! I also am impressed by my students’ ability to memorize texts!
9. What are your impressions of the city, campus, higher education institution? Are there any preferences, bonuses for students, faculty of your higher education institution? The city is lovely! It has everything one needs to live comfortably. The campus is pretty on the outside, but not very nice or comfortable on the inside – there is no Wi-fi available everywhere, or modern technology.
10. What are five reasons for studying, working or living in Ukraine as for foreigners? People are welcoming to foreigners, it is an affordable country, it has a beautiful architecture, it has a rich history, its culture is vastly different from the US and Western Europe.
11. What are the main values of the average citizen of your country and Ukrainian citizen? What are the similarities and differences? Americans value independence, self-happiness, and opportunity. Ukrainian citizens seem to value family, hard work, and tradition. I think the values differ greatly. Both cultures value their children and the freedom of their nation.
12. How do you think, what part of the civilization space Ukraine is? What are the main achievements and problems of the Ukrainian state? I think Ukraine has a lot of work to do but has a great potential if it gets rid of corruption. Corruption is the biggest problem of the Ukrainian state.
13. Are you planning to return to Ukraine, to live and to work here? What would you like to bring from the foreign education institution you studied in to Ukrainian universities? I am not planning to return to Ukraine to live or work. I hope to bring to Chernivtsi University a more comfortable student-professor relationship and the opportunity to do extracurricular activities, such as the Global Collaboration Project, a poetry contest, and English Club.