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Exclusive Report from AERO Member School in Kyiv, Ukraine

Jerry Mintz

AERO has member schools in Ukraine, two of which are in Kyiv. So we were concerned about their welfare and recently talked to Yaraslav, whose democratic homeschool resource center we visited in 2010, on our way to helping the Stork Family School in Vinnitsa, celebrate it’s 20th anniversary. Yaroslav said, "We were closed only one day in one school and two days in the second school. All is good, nobody was hurt. I've went to Maidan (the square in Kyiv) when things became peaceful. I saw barricades, made of everything at once, a lot of people in different outfits and good mood. You could see that those were the people who went out to demonstrate for their right to freedom and democracy. You could feel it, actually. There were a lot of campfires (for warmth) and wood for it and a lot of smoke everywhere so if you closed your eyes you could feel like you were at a barbecue. But when you opened them, you could see the real situation. It's just the economics is staggering after all those events. Now, everybody is back at school so we are moving on."

He further wrote to us:

Park school (or DIXI-school – as we named it this year, is doing fine – I am trying to get schools to the next level of student's learning and mutual satisfaction. Coursera courses are extremely valuable for me now – got me thinking and changing a lot in the system. The resource is just absolutely great. So, I'm in the process of intensive learning myself, passing the knowledge to the teachers and upgrading the system.

Unfortunately, I believe due to the recent events, the economic situation in the country really got worse and we lost some kids because their parents couldn't afford the tuition. So we are struggling to keep moving financially right now (I'm laying off one teacher) but we'll pull through, I'm sure of it. I didn't have those problems even in the financial crisis of 2008-2009, but now I feel it.

A couple of words about the general situation in the country. I didn't ask every one of 46 million Ukrainians about their beliefs, but I and all my close and distant friends strongly and unanimously believe two things. 

First: educated and middle-class and upper-class people in Ukraine rose up against the corrupt government and overthrow it (it's really people, not opposition party) and are satisfied with the new government and the changes in the country that are being made by it and general mood after the Revolution.

Second: there's some conspiracy about the situation in Crimea. Two things are clear: Russia destabilizes the situation there, Ukraine doesn't want to give Crimea to Russia and doesn't react to provocations but doesn't have clear positions as well. What are people in Crimea thinking about that – I don't know – too much propaganda is around. What is the Russian plan? – I don't know either. I know for sure that Russian-speaking Ukrainians never were in any danger for all these years.

There's not a person that I know that thinks differently. Hope that everything will come to terms. It's just unfortunately, I don't know how. 

By the way, with new government, it seems to me that the situation with home schools and home education in general might get better. They are very open at the moment. I know at the moment about the existence of about six homeschool centers in Kyiv and region!

We will have our first conference (more a workshop) for about 20 people on the 30th of March.

All the best to AERO!

Best wishes,