In response to family and friends regarding my safety in Ukraine after the Georgia conflict.
To all of you....
I appreciate you all caring so much about me, but I believe that you may be receiving biased news as well. Do you all not think that the US media paints a bad picture of Russia and CIS countries to keep you all in the immense state of fear that you live in? The US media does a very fine job keeping you all on your toes. Russia is a scary country, but not nearly as out-of-control as Bush, CNN, and the rest of the giants make you believe.
There is a potential for Russia to attack Ukraine, there always has been. But, I don't believe that the threat is any greater than the threat on Americans from nearly every country around. We are not well-liked abroad.
Secondly, I don't get Russian news, I get Ukrainian news. And yes, there has been a great deal of media coverage about the attack. In fact, it overshadows the Olympics. For your information, Ukraine is NOT Russia. It is independent. This may be part of the problem for Ukraine- people don't call it by the appropriate name, and still think of it as a satellite republic of the Russian Federation. Yes, they do get pushed around a lot by Russia, but it's a separate country with a separate government. Ukraine is taking a stand against Russia. A brave move, yes. Of course there is fear on the citizens part, but they also feared Bush sending frozen chicken legs here to be sold (long story). Ukraine is growing more independent all the time, and it's a cool thing to be witnessing. They have recently elected a new Prime MInister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is pro west and pro the unification of Ukraine (a politically/ethnically divided nation). Ukraine has also joined the WTO, a step for them to enter into NATO and the EU (so many acronyms). Ukraine is moving into the direction of the west. (This idea seems to quell many Americans nerves.) These are major steps for Ukraine. They want to join the EU badly, so they will take a stand against Russia, but I don't think they have has much to fear as the media portrays back home. Why?
Perhaps your news is a bit one-sided as well. The problems in Ossetia have been going on for many years. This territory, along with the territory of Abxasia, are independent areas in Georgia. Technically, they aren't in Georgia, nor in Russia (something like Kosovo). The Ossetians want independence; Georgia of course doesn't want this. Also, globally this would spark a trend for all territories striving for independence- the Basques, Kosovo, Transdniester (Moldova), etc. Well, the Ossetians made some move for independence and Georgia attacked. These people needed help, so they asked Russia. Of course Russia wants to help, they want some of their old satellites back. So Russia entered into the conflict and attacked Georgian troops. As of yesterday, Georgian soldiers killed 1700 people and counting and Russian soldiers 900 and counting. Russia is not all to blame. Russian soldiers did not technically cross into Georgian borders. PC volunteers and the rest of American/British ex-pats were not ordered out of Georgia because the conflict was in a centralized territory where no PC volunteers live and where ex-pats are suggested to avoid.
No, I am not a Russian sympathizer. Actually, I'm not a fan at all. But, I think that you could balance your biased media with whatever biased media I'm receiving. And, perhaps, you could think that it's cool that I'm here and you can get some first-hand information about what's going on over here. Just because I work for a government organization doesn't mean I'm being brainwashed. In fact, maybe less so that all of you since I'm not on the internet, in front of the TV, or in the stores all the time. I'm not criticizing you, just maybe asking you to think a little (not that you don't). Peace Corps has nearly no contact with us and doesn't tell us what to say, think, or do. Of course I am proactive. Haven't I always been? I'd say PC is pro active...more than writing emails to friends, or preaching to the choir. PC is in 134 nations wold-wide, so its presence in Ukraine might possible have some good developmental intentions as well; not just political positioning against Russia. (Though there is probably some truth to this too.)
Maybe you could learn a little by keeping in contact with me, who is here first-hand, rather than relying on media (citing Newsweek proves my case- this is a bad source for world news). Or at least supplement your education. I am not westernizing Ukraine, but I am trying to get my students to lower their racial/ethnic/religious biases- something everyone could work on and maybe improve the global situation. And, I teach English. This is important; not just for westernizing, but for the globalized world we live in, and for communication. Too often communication is a last resort instead of a first resort. So, for me, communication is a positive goal that I have for my students. Another goal I have and am achieving is talking to Ukrainians and seeing their perspectives. America isn't the only country and I like hearing about other areas of the world, and consequently their opinions of us (not all negative). It puts things into perspective for me. Something that wouldn't hurt Americans.
I also don't think America has no much business getting involved. We are already stretched thin and this is a European conflict for now. We have no business pointing our fingers at the current moment. Us getting involved might, and probably will, provoke a much greater situation. This is only my opinion of course.
I really am happy that you are all thinking of me, just don't be so skeptical of what I'm doing and don't let the fear overtake you. I know it's a real situation, but the news there really instills such a sense of fear. I hope I didn't attack; that wasn't my purpose. Hopefully, I don't know...I hope you're staying cool. It's hot as balls here...and no fan (or A/C)...or water today.