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by Grace Engard, Graphic Designer

“None of this was here a few years ago.”

This phrase and variations of it would be repeated again and again during the six days I was in Ukraine. This particular time, my group stood in the center of a small mountain town called Khust in western Ukraine. Down the middle of the cobblestone street, a perfect line of trees dotted a strip of lush green grass. Wooden benches lined either side of the strip, and ornate lampposts towered above. As the afternoon sun filtered in, I imagined the otherwise drab, gray street without the grass and decorations—the way it would have looked only a few years ago.

Ukraine has had a turbulent history, being divided and conquered by various countries for centuries. As a post-Soviet nation, Ukraine’s economy has struggled under the weight of corruption and conflict since the early 1990’s. Even after much economic improvement starting in 2000, the country’s GDP plummeted once again in 2014 following the civil unrest and later conflict in eastern Ukraine. Still today, jobs are scarce, uncertainty runs high, and the average Ukrainian lives on only about $240 per month.

And yet … Continue Reading…