Tag Archives: Ukraine

Folklore, Rumors & Misinformation Campaigns Interfering with Humanitarian Efforts & Government Initiatives


Preventing Folklore, Rumors, Urban Myths & Organized Misinformation Campaigns From Interfering with Development & Aid/Relief Efforts & Government Initiatives

Folklore, rumors and contemporary myths / legends often interfere with development aid activities and government initiatives, including public health programs – even bringing such to a grinding halt. They create ongoing misunderstandings and mistrust, prevent people from seeking help, encourage people to engage in unhealthy and even dangerous practices, and have even lead to mobs of people attacking someone or others because of something they heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. With social media like Twitter and Facebook, as well as simple text messaging among cell phones, spreading misinformation is easier than ever.

Added to the mix: fake news sites set up specifically to mislead people, as well as crowdsourced efforts by professional online provocateurs and automated troll bots pumping out thousands of comments, countering misinformation efforts has to be a priority for aid and development organizations, as well as government agencies.

Since 2004, I have been gathering and sharing both examples of this phenomena, and recommendations on preventing folklore, rumors and urban myths from interfering with development and aid/relief efforts and government initiatives. I’ve recently updated this information with new information regarding countering organized misinformation campaigns.

Anyone working in development or relief efforts, or working in government organizations, needs to be aware of the power of rumor and myth-sharing, and be prepared to prevent and to counter such. This page is an effort to help those workers:

  • cultivate trust in the community through communications, thereby creating an environment less susceptible to rumor-baiting
  • quickly identify rumors and misinformation campaigns that have the potential to derail humanitarian aid and development efforts
  • quickly respond to rumors and misinformation campaigns that could derail or are interfering with humanitarian aid and development efforts

And, FYI: I do this entirely on my own, as a volunteer, with no funding from anyone. I update the information as my free time allows.

Also see:

What I Did in Ukraine

Ukraine booby dollMore than a week has gone by since I left Kyiv. The photo at right sums up how I felt most of the time whilst there.

Now, I’m in Germany, fighting a cold, and wondering if I dreamed that whole nine-week Ukrainian adventure.

What did I do in August and September 2014 for the United Nations in Ukraine? I tried to remember everything:

  • Drafted (and re-drafted and re-drafted) the revised strategy for the UN’s work in Ukraine, per the drastic change in circumstances in the country earlier in 2014 (this took up probably 25% of my entire work time in Kyiv).
  • Edited and rewrote more document proposals, press releases, web pages, meeting reports and field reports than I care to try to list (this took up probably 25% of my entire work time in Kyiv).
  • Drafted a marketing plan for a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project focused on getting people to care about and take action regarding climate change.
  • Drafted a strategy to leverage most of the UN days in some way via social media and, in some cases, traditional means (onsite events, press tours, etc.).
  • Live-tweeted UNDP Ukraine Social Good #inno4dev / #2030now summit, highlighting the many excellent tech-for-good initiatives happening all over Ukraine, and blogged about how future events might be more interactive and produce something by the end of the day (more than knowledge-sharing). I also blogged about how I was part of a group at UN Volunteers HQ back at the start of the century that tried to do many of the things now, at last, being embraced by UNDP, and got quite a bit of attention thrown UN Ukraine’s way as a result. 
  • Invented the #uatech4good tag, which I’m hoping will catch on as a social media tag for any tech4good initiative in Ukraine, including those with no UN-affiliation.
  • Mapped all of the various UN agencies and programs in Ukraine with regard to their Web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Flickr accounts and any other social media profiles they had, and created a page on the UN web site where anyone could find such (it also includes suggestions on where to find further info regarding the UN’s work in Ukraine using various UN HQ accounts).
  • Did research and then drafted recommendations for how various UN agencies, particularly UNDP, could use social media to promote respect, tolerance and perhaps even reconciliation in areas of Ukraine currently in conflict.
  • Live-tweeted UNDP Ukraine’s Social Good #inno4dev / #2030now summit, highlighting the many excellent tech-for-good initiatives happening all over Ukraine.
  • Helped to develop some simple ways to leverage the Humans of New York focus on Ukraine.
  • Advised on how to deal with some specific negative activities on both social and traditional media targeted at the UN.
  • Did trainings on using Twitter for all UN communications staff, and another for just UNDP staff and another just for UNICEF staff, tailoring those last two trainings to those different agencies specifically.
  • Prepared a guide for the UN Volunteers office in Ukraine on how to use Twitter and Facebook to better publicize their activities to not only external audiences, but also to those they are working with and their colleagues within various UN agencies in Ukraine (never forget that social media sometimes reaches someone in the office next door with news they don’t know about your initiative).
  • Wished for a better word for reconciliation
  • Wished for more web sites like this Ukrainian journalism student project, Stopfake.org
  • Lamented with my Crimean Tatar co-worker the lack of sustainability and evaluations of hacksforgood/appsforgood and any other projects launched during a hackathon, and our lamentations inspired this blog (I mention his ethnicity only because other references to such all seem to be only about how they are internally-displaced people and frequently oppressed – which is true, but many also happen to be very knowledgable, experienced professionals – just like anyone).
  • Advised on an app to help citizens report infrastructure issues to the government.
  • Researched whether or not our offices might need a policy re: editing Wikipedia (such editing is easily monitored by citizen activists and even some hostile “bodies”, and conflict of interest editing can turn into a PR nightmare; I doubt anyone is editing Wikipedia from the office, but this is a VERY tech savvy country – I was trying to think preventatively).
  • Had various ideas bounced off of me by various staff for events, announcements, activities, speeches, using Twitter, etc.
  • Participated in department meetings (though, believe it or not, I would have liked to have been a part of even more).
  • Created new text for the UN Volunteers in Ukraine page regarding online volunteering and volunteering NOT as a UN Volunteer.
  • Asked a lot of questions, listened, took a lot of notes, read lots and lots of information so I could write about various topics when called upon, read and responded to a lot of emails…
  • Tried to kill my boss with roses.
  • Took care of our field security guy’s puppy for a few days.
  • Bothered my co-workers regarding my overwhelming desire for mashed potatoes.

I bring up the mashed potatoes because, while very few people liked or commented on Facebook regarding my “I want mashed potatoes” status update, several co-workers did in-person; it’s how I realized just how much people were reading what I posted online, and what a poor judge of readership the number of “likes” is.

Did anything change as a result of my time in Ukraine? I’m not sure. I think a couple of people now realize the power of social media and it seems that the changes in their use of such while I was there is continuing after I’m gone. I think I helped to raise the profile, to a certain degree, of what various UN agencies are doing in Ukraine, and helped to reinforce that those agency reps are essential to have at the table when talking about addressing the critical needs of the country. But I wish I could have had more time to get more cross-fertilization happening regarding communications and to get more people pro-active instead of being so reactive and passive when it comes to communications, so that when one initiative launches something major, all of the UN communications staff at different initiatives see it and share it with their networks, and that no one waits to hear about news – they go out online and look for it. I wish I could have done a workshop on writing in plain English. I wish I could have worked with a few people one-on-one more. I wish I could have gotten everyone better using Flickr. I wish I could have done an analysis of current press relations.

I also really wish I could have done a workshop on the UN’s Online Volunteering service. I’m sorry to say that no one in the UN Volunteers office in Ukraine really knew what it was or why to use it. It wasn’t a part of my mandate to talk about it to anyone – but I tried anyway, specifically with UNV folks, squeezed in among several other topics. I would not only like to see UN Volunteers in Ukraine using the OV service, I would not only like to see all of the UN programs in Ukraine looking for ways to use the service to engage with online volunteers regarding their work, I would also love to see UNDP Ukraine launch, or help to launch, a Ukrainian and Russian-language version of the online volunteering site focused exclusively on Ukraine. Ukraine is still afire with civic engagement desires – so many civil society initiatives there are using the Internet to engage and support volunteers, without ever having heard the term virtual volunteering. Imagine what more could be done with Ukraine’s own online volunteering service for both Ukraine-based and Ukraine-focused civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Oh well, I did what I did, and I think I did what most needed to be done.

What did I learn? Oh, that’s a whole ‘nother blog, thrice as long. I learned SO much, and re-learned so much. I think that’s what I’ll reflect on these next two weeks.

So, that was my work time in Ukraine, and my latest adventure with the United Nations, an organization that frustrates me greatly often times but, even so, I still believe is humanity’s best hope for getting every person equal access to education, safety, care for basic needs, a healthy environment, economic choices, and life choices, and for keeping us from killing each other and destroying everything. I’m proud to be a part of the United Nations, and while I hope this isn’t my last gig with the UN, if it is, wow, what a high note to end on!

Also see:

My photos from Ukraine (Kyiv and Korosten)

My photos from in and around Chornobyl (Chernobyl)

How to Pursue a Career with the United Nations or Other International Humanitarian or Development Organizations, Including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Reality Check: Volunteering Abroad / Internationally

Tweets from UNDP Ukraine’s Social Good #inno4dev summit

I had the pleasure of live-tweeting the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ukraine office’s recent Social Good #inno4dev / #2030now summit, highlighting the many excellent tech-for-good initiatives happening all over Ukraine.

Tweets were tagged with #uatech4good, which I’m hoping will catch on as a tag for any tech4good initiative in Ukraine that tweets about their work, including those with no UN-affiliation. If you have a computer, app, Internet or other tech-related projects helping people or causes in Ukraine, please use the #uatech4good tag when you talk about it, so we can know about it!

You can view all of the tweets leading up to the event, and during and after the event here

Here are photos from the Ukraine event as well.

I hope that, for next year, UNDP Ukraine can do something much more ambitious and interactive, that will produce tech4good results by the end of the day, such as any of these activities:

  • A hackathon to build simple, easy-to-manage web sites for NGOs in Ukraine that don’t have a web presence, or need their web sites improved, AND that there is a commitment to make the web sites accessible for people using assistive technologies, ala the Accessibility Internet Rallies by Knowbiliy.org in Austin, Texas – thereby not only creating web sites, but creating awareness re: the needs of people with disabilities on the Internet.
  • An edit-a-thon to improve information on the Ukrainian version of Wikipedia regarding various development issues: HIV/AIDs, women’s empowerment, women’s history, vaccinations, migrants, etc.
  • A workshop about online volunteering for local civil society organizations, and following such, brainstorming with these civil society organizations about ways they could start involving online volunteers right away, and then having onsite volunteers help NGO representatives register on the UN’s online volunteering service and start recruiting for at least one online volunteering task.
  • Workshops on free and open source software (FOSS), how NGOs and civil society can use social media, how government agencies can use social media, etc. how videos can deliver messages that can positively influence/change people’s behavior, etc. (with lots examples from Ukraine), etc.
  • Dispersing IT volunteers throughout the city to help the elderly, women, refugees and other learn how to use particular computer or mobile phone tools.
  • A roundtable discussion – inviting everyone in the room to participate as well – regarding what needs to happen to ensure tech4good initiatives in Ukraine flourish, rather than disappear after just a few days, weeks or months.

My favorite parts of the Social Good Summit preparations and day of the event for Ukraine:

  • This tweet from Robert Rosenthal, regarding a blog I wrote several days ago about how the first UN team I was a part of tried to get the UN excited about various Internet tools, including handheld tech, for use in development way back in 2001.
  • Seeing my Ukrainian friends Artem and Dmytro walk into the room for the Kyiv event – I had gotten to invite them at the last minute, and was really hoping they would be able to present regarding their E+ initiative, which stated as an all-volunteer, spontaneous effort to get urgently-needed medical care for injured Maidan protesters back in January 2014. Initiative E+ continues to help those injured during the Maidan 2014 protests with long-term care, but now has branched out to manage programs for the children of Maidan victims, to provide Ukrainian soldiers injured in fighting in the East with pharmaceuticals and financial support the greatly-weakened Ukrainian government is unable to provide, and to help the children of military veterans. You can read about their activities on the E+ Facebook page  or on this E+ initiative page in EnglishIndeed, Dmytro got to present a bit regarding their initiative (thanks to UNDP for making that happen!).
  • Having a delightful exchange on Facebook with a colleague from Kyrgyzstan that I worked with in Afghanistan, regarding Social Good events by UNDP in his country.

Yet another wonderful work experience from my time in Ukraine!

Ukrainian journalism student project: Stopfake.org

For more than a decade, I’ve been informally studying how folklore, rumors & urban myths interfere with development/aid/relief efforts, and government initiatives, & how these are overcome. I’m so fascinated with the subject that it was almost my Master’s degree these once-upon-a-time – but I couldn’t find enough people to go on-the-record in interviews.

I have longed for myth-busting sites like snopes.com or Straight Dope column by Cecil Adams in the USA to be created for developing and transitional countries (as well as home-grown versions of the show “MythBusters“), in local languages. I dream of winning the lottery just so I can fund such initiatives in various countries.

Imagine my thrill to discover this week that there IS such a thing in Ukraine! Fact-checking website Stopfake.org was launched on March 2, 2014 by alumni and students of Mohyla School of Journalism and of the Digital Future of Journalism professional program. “The main purpose of this community is to check facts, verify information, and refute distorted information and propaganda about events in Ukraine covered in the media,” according to the web site. The site is in both English and Russian.

It’s an all-volunteer site (and that includes ONLINE volunteers / virtual volunteering), verifying information, finding and translating and researching stories, etc. Though the site is meant to fact-check anti-Ukrainian bias in media, there are some articles that debunk pro-Ukrainian stories as well. What I particularly love is the article How to Identify a Fake.

I hope that, once the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has become non-violent and not quite so threatening and vitriolic, the focus of the Stopfake.org site can move to more every-day myths that float around Ukraine – about HIV/AIDS, or about Islamic or Jewish religions/culture, for instance. Such myths can have serious, even deadly, consequences.

I also hope the site will start being updated again in English soon – as of the time of this blog’s writing, it hasn’t been updated in English since the end of August. I wonder if this program would qualify to use the UN’s Online Volunteering service to find online volunteers to translate articles from Russian to English… I certainly consider debunking rumors as an essential part of development and aid work

If you know of a similar myth-debunking site in countries other than the USA, please note such in the comments section on my blog.

And for a good source of information about the conflict in Ukraine, from a variety of sources (news, NGOs, UN agencies, etc.), my go-to site is ReliefWeb’s Ukraine site.

Humans of New York guy posting re: Ukraine

Yes, indeed, Brandon Stanton, creator of the blog and bestselling book, Humans of New York, was in Ukraine last week and, this week, is posting photos and stories from his time here.

No, I did not meet him. Quit asking.

This is part of his UN-sponsored trip for 50 days to countries in different parts of the world, asking about their main challenges, achievements and hopes. The goal of the trip is to raise awareness for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Stories and photos from his trip to Ukraine and elsewhere here can be found on his Humans of New York web site, , via his Humans of New York Facebook page,  and via his Twitter account, @humansofny.

More information about the entire trip via the United Nations in Ukraine web site (info co-written by myself and my Ukrainian office mate – she wrote a MUCH better lead than me. I just cannot write a lead that good… she was who accompanied him, and translated for him, and I get to hear her own stories about the experience, which are fascinating).

My job: reading the consequences of war

A lot of my current job is reading large volumes of text and then trying to synthesize them down to something smaller, easier to understand and quicker to read, for various reports, web pages, etc.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been reading a lot about what’s happening to people that have fled the violence in Eastern Ukraine, and people who have remained behind, as well as what life is like for Crimean Tatars and others that have had to flee Crimea. I haven’t cited all of my sources below – there are just too many. There’s no one comprehensive report on this crisis – yet. But all of the following is easily verifiable using news and humanitarian reports, all publicly available online:

In the areas of armed conflict, homes, buildings, roads and bridges, electricity, and water systems and other basic infrastructure are often severely wrecked. Heating systems are needed and sanitation is poor, access to medical and social services is inadequate, and access to food remains a concern. Many of those that have stayed behind are the elderly or people with disabilities. And winter is coming… many of those who have stayed behind, regardless of their politics, are experiencing not only the threat of violence, but also abduction, extortion and harassment. Many people, especially men, have disappeared without a word to family, and it’s not known if they’ve are being held somewhere or if they have been killed.

And that’s for the people that dare to try to stay in areas affected by war. Around 15,000 Crimeans of mainly Crimean Tatar ethnicity (80%) are now internally-displaced people (IDPs) and have sought refuge in the Ukraine mainland, mainly in the west. As of 8 August 2014, UNHCR reported a total of 125,032 from Eastern Ukraine, but this is probably way too low – there’s no widespread systemic way right now to register IDPs. A needs assessment conducted by OCHA in June 2014 indicates that a total of 1.52 million people may leave the Eastern regions of Ukraine, should armed conflict and violence continue, let alone escalate. Some IDPs are living in collective shelters, which were built for youth summer camps, and their numbers in those shelters are far beyond what buildings were constructed for. These shelters often do not have heating systems. And winter is coming…

IDPs usually do not have the appropriate paperwork they need to register for government services or to get a job in their new location. They can’t access their bank accounts because such have been frozen by the government here or in Russia, depending on where they have their money. IDPs have great difficulties to get legal services for protection from civil and criminal issues. Gender-based violence is on the increase, and largely unreported. There is a HUGE need to provide services to those IDPs who are suffering from psychological disorientation, alienation and stress. Communities where IDPs are living are starting to become wary of them, as any community does of people they perceive as outsiders: misunderstandings and misinformation about IDPs abound, and there is a growing need to promote respect and tolerance among everyone, through deliberate, facilitated community dialogue and communication – the stuff some people call touchy feel-y, but that I think prevents violence, even civil war.

And all of these problems are growing, every day, as conflict continues.

There are a lot of reasons the United Nations has been in Ukraine for so long – but this new, more urgent reason, is why I’m here, albeit oh-so-briefly. Such a huge challenge… so huge…

If you are saying, “I want to help Ukraine! How do I do that?” I think donating financially to any UN agency that accepts financial donations, such as the World Food Programme or UNICEF or UNFPA, and saying you are doing so for Ukraine, would be awesome. These agencies provide both direct service through their own staff and through local Ukrainian nonprofit/civil society organizations. Just please don’t send stuff – don’t collect t-shirts or baby supplies or what not if you are outside of Ukraine – it’s cheaper, more efficient, and better for local economies to buy things right here in country.

Ukrainian named Wikipedian of the Year 2014

The late Ukrainian journalist Ihor Kostenko, who was killed earlier this year in a Euromaidan protest, has been named Wikipedian of the Year for 2014 by Wikipedia.

Wikipedians are the people that contribute information to Wikipedia, and the vast majority, like Ihor Kostenko, are volunteers – they are not paid by anyone for the time they donate to Wikipedia to write articles, edit information and discuss the quality of articles with other Wikipedians. In The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, myself and Susan Ellis say that Wikipedia is the largest example of virtual volunteering. When anyone from any country asks me what organization involves the most online volunteers in their country, I say with confidence, “Your country’s version of Wikipedia.” 

Ihor Kostenko was a Ukrainian journalist and Euromaidan activist. In two and a half years, he wrote more than 280 articles and made more than 1,600 edits on Ukrainian Wikipedia, contributing under the user name Ig2000. He also created maintained the popular Ukrainian Wikipedians Facebook page. He created the idea of a Wiki Flashmob in Ukraine, a group volunteer event that invited Ukrainians to participate in a day of article-writing on Wikipedia; the event was undertaken on on April 27, 2014 after his death and was dedicated to his memory. He was shot and killed on February 20, 2014 during a Euromaidan protest in Kyiv. 

I’m not sure why there is such scant information on the Wikipedia main site about the Wikipedian of the Year award; I’m not sure when or where it was given. This page provides some information about the 2014 award, but I can’t find an official Wikipedia press release about it anywhere – nor any press coverage of the announcement anywhere, other than the aforementioned link.

Update August 19: The Kiev Post has posted an article about this that provides more information. Apparently, the announcement was made at this year’s closing ceremony of Wikimania, an annual conference of the Wikimedia Foundation. But there’s nothing at all on the Wikimania web site about Ihor Kostenko, and I can find no official announcement from Wikipedia about this. Frustrating!

Apps for good – two things I learned in Ukraine this week

This week, I sat in on a presentation by a tech company here in Ukraine regarding the development of a citizen reporting system – one that could be accessed by a computer or a smart phone, where citizens could report on a particular issue, and these reports could be mapped and shared, etc. You’re probably familiar with these in other countries: where citizens can report pot holes, infrastructure problems after a disaster, incidents of corruption, incidents of street harassment, etc. Like in Chilé or Egypt.

The presentation was the best I’ve ever sat through on this topic, better than anything I have ever experienced in the USA.


The vendor used the language of the UN – and used it with real familiarity. He didn’t try to use some new snazzy jargon that’s big in the IT world now to talk about ideas we all understand: goals, clients, etc. In other words: he respected the audience to whom he was speaking as experts, and demonstrated that respect by being well-versed in the words they use and how they communicate. So, for instance, the representative talked about people’s capacities and the time and expertise needed by his staff to develop the tool – he didn’t substitute the word “bandwidth” for that.

He also talked to us, making eye contact, without constantly turning to his computer to show something shiny or colorful or otherwise just distracting. His slide show presentation was just background. He was there to connect, to help us understand. He was human – for a very human project. He completely understood that this isn’t a tech project – it’s a civic engagement project.

What a different experience it is to be in a meeting like this. Seven years ago, in 2007, no one talked about such a tool in Afghanistan in the government office where I was working, supported by UNDP – despite these tools already existing, despite the permeation of cell phones throughout the country, despite the golden opportunity to use such a tool in some way. Using tech in the field, even in the most remote of areas, to gather information and report it back somewhere in a centralized place as a part of humanitarian, environmental or other aid or development-related efforts has been a phenomena since before the new millennium – I wrote one of the first papers reporting on such efforts, for the UN, published online in October 2001. Back then, the UN yawned. I’m so glad things have changed!

Another great day on the job in Ukraine. Less than seven weeks to go.

I’m in Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

Yes, I’m in I’m in Kiev (Kyiv), Urkaine for this UN two-month assignment. I hope to blog in-depth about my work soon, but for now, I’m just too busy (it’s only day two here at work) and too tired once I get home. Two things I’m working on: articulating a very big strategy (have to have a draft by next week) and coming up with communications ideas in relation to the global celebrations for World Humanitarian Day (Aug. 19 – follow #humanitarianheroes and visit the official web site for more info).

I am already tweeting a bit – actually, mostly retweeting, re: info from UN agencies here, or information about here, that I’m finding helpful for my work. So follow me on Twitter if you’re interested.

My boss here in Ukraine is very full of energy and ideas! He’s already given me much to do!  

Was pleased to find I’m in the same building as the UN Volunteer program officer and three UNVs! Their work isn’t really the primary focus of my work… but you just KNOW I won’t be able to stay away from them….

Jayne in Kiev, Ukraine for all August & Sept.

For all of August and September, I will be the SURGE Communications Officer in Kiev, Ukraine, and assist UNDP Ukraine and other UN country teams with the development and day-to-day implementation of communications and publication strategies. I’ll also monitor progress of the UN country teams response to the crises in Ukraine “with a view to influence the development agenda,” by helping with public and media outreach, to help people to understand the work and accomplishments of  UNDP in Ukraine. I’ll be helping to build the capacities of the staff to continue these communications activities long after I’ve gone.

Supposedly, I’ll get to work with various communications managers, staff of other UN Agencies, government officials, international and local media, multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors and civil society. According to the job description, I’ll be:

  • Planning and designing internal and external strategies for communications and outreach
  • Supervising the design and maintenance of the UNDP web site and intranets (and I hope other online activities as well)
  • Facilitating knowledge building and knowledge sharing
  • Etc.

That’s a tall order in two months, but I’m ready! I love getting to work in my first love: communications in development programs. I love designing and carrying out communications plans, but I also love building the capacity of people to communicate, to deliver effective messages, to anticipate issues, to be responsive, etc. My favorite work in Afghanistan, the last time I worked for the UN, was building public sector staff communications capacities in Afghanistan, something I squeezed in amid my primary responsibilities of writing and editing reports for various institutions, and I continue to do that capacity-building work with Afghan colleagues to this day, as an online volunteer. I’m so looking forward to getting to do this kind of work again!

I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m thrilled, I’m scared – not of the political situation in Ukraine but of meeting the expectations of this job!

Of course, this has come at a cost: I was to present in Austin, Texas in September, to do a volunteer management training for AmeriCorps members in Portland, Oregon, to do a training back in my hometown of Henderson, Kentucky, and lots of personal plans. There were people I haven’t seen in many, many years, and people I was to meet onsite, face-to-face, that I’ve known only online, all lined up for August and September. That’s the cost of doing this type of short-term work overseas – it never happens at a convenient time. And, of course, I’m missing the very best time to be in Oregon – and will be missing my husband terribly.

The worst part, though, is Delta Airlines: I already have a roundtrip ticket booked with them for Germany, for a vacation with my husband. My Ukraine contract ends just three days before I was to arrive in Germany from the USA. You would think Delta would simply let me keep that ticket – already paid for – and then just not use the USA to Germany part, allowing me to simply buy a flight from Kiev to Frankfurt, and then using just the return ticket – again, it’s all already paid for. And you would be WRONG. Unless I fly out from the USA to Germany, I would pay almost $5000 for the flight back from Germany to the USA! If I don’t show up for the outbound flight, they will cancel my return ticket! So I have to fly all the way back to the USA from Ukraine, stay TWO days, and get right back on a plane for Europe. Can you believe it?!? There is no logic for this. None. None whatsoever.

Anyway, I’ll post updates about my work here and via my various online social network channels.

If you are or have been in Kiev, Ukraine, do drop me a line with any advice you have!