Click on smaller photos to enlarge.
On Tuesday, April 17 the Agricultural Conference at the Agrarian Academy began with the agricultural experts in our team giving several presentations and lectures about a variety of topics to different audiences.
While still in the planning phase for the trip, Martina had been in contact with Jeffrey Heyd, an American professor at the Poltava University of Consumer Cooperatives. He had asked about the possibility of some of us coming to his University and giving lectures to the students and talking to some of their professors. Donna, Karyn and Martina accepted the invitation and while Donna talked to researchers in the food and nutrition department, Karyn and Martina held lectures for the students about 4-H, University of Illinois Extension and student life in Illinois. We also had a meeting with Irina Markina, the Vice-Rektor and several of the professors involved in international programs. While teaching Martina was interrupted by a camera team and interviewed for the local evening news.
The early evening hours were spent at a dinner the Agrarian Academy had invited us to. It was a pleasant evening with lots of good traditional food, interesting conversations and a lot of toasting. This time it was unavoidable for Kevin Brooks, as the head of our team, and Martina Mohrbacher, as the representative of the ladies, to also raise a toast. So we did our best!
Wednesday morning Martina held a lecture at the Agrarian College. She talked to approximately 40 students and six teachers about University of Illinois, student life and the system and meaning of Extension.
After that, She met with Karyn and Kris Wiley, Jennifer’s husband and also a Peace Corps volunteer in Poltava. Together they went to the Pedagogical Institute (has the rank of a University) where Kris was teaching. Martina delivered the same lecture again to a class of about 20 English students while Karyn talked to another class about 4-H. They then met with the Vice Rektor and talked about possible future projects. The Pedagogical Institute – as all other universities we have visited in Poltava – is trying to comply with the requirements of the Bologna process. This is a process the European Union has started to make educational degrees in different countries in Europe comparable. One of the requirements for participation in this process is the establishment of a student government. The Vice Rektor asked us if we could assist them with this task. Karyn and Martina agreed to work on the possibilities to engage older 4-H kids teaching their peers in the Ukraine how to set up student and youth organizations.
In the afternoon Kevin Brooks, Karyn Mendoza and Martina Mohrbacher went to a meeting with the head of one of the local orphanages. Several members of the group had brought clothes, medical supplies and toys for the orphanage. Kevin Brooks, who had been in contact with this institution before, had brought baseball equipment donated by his home club. We arranged with the headmistress to come back with part of the group the next day and play baseball and other games with a group of older children.