Support Transcarpathian Ukraine and Rusyn Culture
Organized by: Christopher Gajda
The Transcarpathian region of Ukraine is located in the center of Europe, yet is unknown to most Americans. It is an area of rich history, cultural variety, natural beauty, and warm friendly people. However, there is also much poverty among it's people. The average annual income is around $3000; even a highly educated professional such as a doctor may only earn $350 to $500 a month.
I spent last summer living with my relatives there, and have made a great many contacts with people. I am returning in August for three months, with the goal of producing blogs, photos, and videos, to promote awareness of travel and tourism opportunities there for Americans. Transcarpathia is only the size of Delaware, yet there are over 150 festivals a year there. Many of the festivals are devoted to food and wine, as the region is noted for its wine production. Transcarpathia is in the center of Europe and borders on Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. During its history they have had princes and rulers from Italy, France, Turkey, Russia, and Hungary, and so a rich multi-cultural cuisine. There are many scenic sites - mountains, lakes and streams, waterfalls, forests, and meadows blanketed with wildflowers. It is rich in history; there are castles and palaces, wooden churches built hundreds of years ago. The cities are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. One can speand the day walking through the city on cobblestone streets, and relaxing at outdoor cafes and shopping in bazaars. Other than the cost of the flight, a stay in Transcarpathia is very inexpensive. A furnished apartment can be rented for as little as $15 a night.
For my first trip, I was unprepared, and only had a cheap digital camera. Still, I was able to produce some video, and blogs. You can see my past work at these sites: http://chrisgoestoukraine.blogspot.com
I would like to be able to take better equipement with me for this trip. Along with producing videos and articles to promote tourism, I plan to collect and publish helpful tips and information for potential travelers. I would like to create a network of English speaking Ukrainians who could serve as guides and translators for Americans. Compile a list of recomended lodging - hotels, apartments and hostels, and a network of Ukrainians who would be willing to provide lodging in the own homes to those who want to experience the Ukrainian way of life.
My ultimate goal is to promote tourism to Zakarpattia, and in so doing, improve the economy of Zakarpattia. A more prosperous economy and higher standard of living not only means a better life for the people, but would be the best way to ensure that the area remains free, democratic, and western oriented.
My own travel expenses are already paid for. Any and all funds raised will be used for the purchase of professional equipment - camera, videocam, software, etc - as well as to pay for any professional assistance. The more funds I raise, the more I will be able to do to promote Zakarpattia.