Monthly Newsletter October 2009


One month down! And this wave we are riding is just getting bigger and bigger and soon it has to break. I hope I’m standing on the board and not going to get crushed. We have over 40 students (I don’t know how many – new ones signing every week). We have taken

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Monthly Newsletter September 2009

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Monthly Newsletter August 2009



I start back at work on Monday 17th of August. I feel like I have had a good break from both teaching and the responsibility of owning and running a business. I have tried to suppress the many and varied thoughts such as: where to from here? what about this or that? who is going to . . .? I need to . . . etc. I know there are some huge hills ahead, but the good thing about climbing up is the view from the top. We have two weeks of planning, signing up students, timetabling classes, buying curriculum. I want to say I’m excited about this up-coming year, but the truth is right now I’m not. I know I need to be. .



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Monthly Newsletter June 2009


I was riding the Kyiv Metro the other day when a young boy hopped on and started a spiel about something, hoping to be given some money. He was probably about 14 and he had some sort of disability that affected his speaking and cognitive abilities. I generally try to avoid beggars on the Metro system. He wandered the length of my carriage and I was surprised at the amount of people who placed money in his cup. Mostly elderly people and mostly 1 or 2 hrivna or even just a couple of coins. I thought about NZ or Australia. Those with disabilities are helped firstly by their families, but also by the government. Their level of care is pretty good. But maybe as fellow human beings we have absolved our consciences of responsibility by letting the tax dollar do the work. It’s rather impersonal. Ukraine’s system does very little for the disadvantaged. So perhaps the Kyiv Metro is the alternative to the welfare system. And perhaps it doesn’t hurt us to actually physically give instead of electing someone else to fulfil the responsibility for us. I’d already missed my chance. I quickly jumped out at the next station, tapped him on the shoulder and handed him 5 hrivna. The look of thanks in his eyes was worth a lot more than that!

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Monthly Newsletter May 2009


When I write the next monthly update, we will have completed the first academic year of UTSIM!! If you had asked me a year ago what I would expect by now – I would not have even dreamed that we would be where we are.

The next four weeks will be flat out with testing students and planning a special presentation and end of year celebration. It feels like there is a lot to do and I know I could feel a little stretched come the end of this month.

We will start looking towards next year (that means September – I have to get used to talking like that in the Northern Hemisphere). We have a program to write. We have chosen a curriculum to use as our base curriculum. This will mean some staff training and purchasing of materials. We have new contracts to make with parents. Schedules to plan and coordinate, and we wish to broaden our student base so as to become financially viable.

I’m happy to announce the appointment of a curriculum and resource development worker. My sister Ruth is going to work part time with us next year and I’m looking forward to the energy, skills and educational experience she will bring to UTSIM.

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April Monthly Update 2009

Of all my failings and weaknesses, anger is not usually one of them. But it seems that something here has a propensity towards making me angry. Driving on Ukraine’s roads! It’s a combination of the condition of the roads and the huge hunk of metal with no suspension and no power steering known as my van. Add to that drivers who have no regard for road rules. Aaaahhhhhh!!!
Our recent trip to Zhovti Vody for a conference was not something I want to replicate again soon in my van. At times I was driving on the shoulder of the road because it was smoother than the road itself. Other times I was on the wrong side approaching oncoming traffic or vice versa. All just to dodge a hole the size of Parramatta.
I sometimes ended up screaming out loud, “Who makes these roads!” Why can’t they make them properly? It is amazing how a small, physical happening which is unimportant in the scheme of things can produce such emotions. Shouldn’t I be angry at things like injustice, war, abuse of children, sin, etc. Instead I take it out on Ukraine’s roads – or more realistically I take it out on my passengers as they are the ones who have to listen to me rant and rave.
I think I’ve written this to preach to myself. But maybe we can conclude that road rage is not just physical acts of violence towards other people, but a condition of one’s heart caused whilst driving.

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Monthly Newsletter March 2009


clip_image002[6]clip_image002[4]He wears the cap, he wears the badges. It’s supposed to represent something, but what? Last night I was pulled over by a police man. He informed me I was speeding and showed me his speed gun saying 90km. I’m not sure how fast I was going but I estimate it between 70-80. I asked him what the speed limit was. He said 60. I said I was sure it was at least 70 along here. He said there is a sign back there saying 40 but the maximum is 60. He had trouble reading my documents, didn’t seem to know what to ask me for, and eventually found my name and started calling me Yonatan. He was then studying my Kyrgyzstan visa for a while. He kept saying we had a problem so I told him to write me out a ticket. He said he couldn’t do that, and that I had a problem because the cashier was closed at this late hour. He was just fishing for a bribe. I basically dared him to write me a ticket. He said we needed to fix our problem. Then he found my last name, and said Miller fix it. I said I only do things one way, the straight way. He said Miller, blyart, (which I won’t translate), get out! And handed me back my documents.

clip_image002[10]I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved that I had my documents back or to be disgusted at his manner and rudeness. He basically told me to F-off because I wouldn’t pay him. I drove on just feeling yucky. The uniform on the man says he should be one thing – an upholder of justice, and yet he gave me the exact opposite impression.



I guess in the education industry you have the constant reminder every day that the students are the real reason we are in this business. Every day we see kids smile, watch lights come on as something new is discovered, learn about their lives and share a part of our own lives. It is a blessing to teach these young people. We have students as young as 7 yrs old and up to 50.

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