Monday, April 18, 2011

The Peace Corps comes to the Library

Douglas Teschner, Director of the Peace Corps in Ukraine, meets with my counterpart, Nadjie Yagya, and head of the Bibliographic Department, Delyara Belyalova.

Doug found the Archive Department especially interesting because he used to work as an archivist. Here he is with Medine Alimova, head of the Archive Department, and Gulyara Abdurazakova.
The SNAC group--Peace Corps Volunteers over the ae of 50--gather in the Reading Hall of the Library.

Peace Corps Director Doug Teschner talks with the Volunteers while SNAC president, Jim Eleazer, looks on.
Last week there was a meeting of older (over the age of 50) Peace Corps Volunteers in Simferopol. The group, called SNAC (Social Networking Action Committee), meets three times a year in different regions of Ukraine in order to discuss business but also to tour the local area. I had offered to host the meeting in Simferopol with the idea of acquainting the Volunteers with Crimean Tatar history and culture.
Twenty-six Volunteers arrived on Friday, April 15th, along with the Director of the Peace Corps in Ukraine, Doug Teschner. I met Doug at the train station, took him to his hotel, and then brought him to the library. Unfortunately, the acting Director of the library, Gulnara Yagyaeva, was out of town and couldn’t meet with Doug, but the department heads all had tea with him and discussed the library activities. Afterwards, we took him on a tour of the building. He was very impressed by the library—its mission, staff, and resources—and by the work I and my counterpart do together.
Later in the afternoon, the entire group assembled in the Reading Hall of the library for a short meeting, plus I gave a presentation on the Crimean Tatar history and culture in preparation for our excursion the next day to the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchisaray and other Crimean Tatar historic sites. Being Americans, they were a somewhat noisy group, as there was animated discussion on many issues. But the Volunteers enjoyed seeing the library and some had also earlier in the day toured the Crimean Tatar Art Museum, who had a Peace Corps Volunteer a few years ago. We also went to another former Peace Corps Volunteer site, a Crimean Tatar crafts cooperative in Bakhchisaray (where I was happy to see people buying presents for themselves and family).
Though the weather didn’t exactly cooperate (we are having quite a cold and rainy spring here), it was a successful meeting, and I think fulfilled my goal of educating at least one group of Peace Corps Volunteers about the Crimean Tatar people.

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