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The day we started our journey the Midwest was hit by a snow storm that resulted in a delayed start and an unplanned route via Italy. Upon our arrival at Borispol airport, Jennifer Wiley, a Peace Corps volunteer placed in Poltava and Sasha Antonov from the Academy, welcomed us and arranged the rest of our journey. From Borispol, we continued via bus to Poltava, another five hours away. Finally, after approximately 35 hours “on the road,” we were received by representatives of the Poltava Agrarian Academy and the Rektor of the Poltava Agrarian College. The group was exhausted, but happy to have arrived. We were taken to our accommodations for the next seven days.
The Poltava State Agrarian Academy has the status of a University and awards different types of academic titles including PhD’s. The Academy is located in Poltava, the administrative center of the Poltava Oblast in the middle of Ukraine. The town itself has about 300,000 inhabitants and was founded about 1100 years ago. The people of Poltava are very proud of their history, and it is evident that there have been many hard times during its existence. Signs of past wars can be seen everywhere. Especially the battle of Poltava in 1709, when Tsar Peter the Great defeated the Swedish Army, and the devastations of World War II have left many traces and scars in and around the city. The main sources of income are to be found in agriculture, and there is some oil and gas industry in the area.
After a night's sleep, we gathered the next morning for a breakfast meeting at the Agrarian Academy where the Rektor, Viktor Pisarenko and the various heads of the departments welcomed us again. Unbeknownst to us, this breakfast meeting was meant as a special treat for the visitors and completely uncustomary for our hosts.
After breakfast, we were taken on a tour through the Academy and the adjoining veterinarian facilities.