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Ukrainian Exceptionalism – Part 1

In this post I will be taking a temporary detour Along the Back Roads of Ukraine to write about what I discovered on the roads in my own back yard.

This past week I enjoyed experiencing another of part of Ukrainian “Exceptionalism.” I witnessed how one man’s passion to help his fellow man personifies why life is good when real people care and accomplish a worthwhile project without having the government to have a hand in it.

It took an unusual chain of events with a strange twist for me to be in the audience on this particular evening.  I had received an email announcing an event that was to take place later in the week.  Since I don’t read or understand the two languages used in Ukraine well, the message found its way into the trash bin.

Thanks to Denys Osetrov, who was wearing a shirt with the words jazz and jazz news written all over it is how I learned the contents of the email I deleted.  We were standing in front of the reception desk talking about his shirt and how it would make an excellent teaching tool for my English classes when he suddenly asked if I liked jazz because there was going to be a jazz concert later in the week and did I get the email inviting everyone to attend?.

I went back to my computer and logged in to check my messages and to retrieve the email from my trash bin. I noticed that the author of the email was on Skype. I sent him a message and he asked me if I was going to the Jazz Concert?  I told him I heard about his concert, but I had jettisoned his email into my trash bin because it was written in a foreign language. He politely apologized because he hadn’t sent it to me in English.

I have known Misha Dyrda for nearly two years. We work together for an IT company in Kiev called EPAM ( whose slogan is: Delivering Excellence in Software Engineering. From time to time we have engaged in many interesting topics.  One of the ironies in the twisted chain of events that day was I discovered a special passion of his, Delivering Excellence by Volunteering to help raise money to buy medical equipment for kids and adults with special needs who have Cerebral Palsy by negotiating with musicians and club owners to perform and use their facilities for free.

EPAM Employees

Last night my wife and I had the pleasure to be in the audience listening to the sounds of jazz with many of my fellow EPAM co-workers enjoying the fruits of Misha’s labor of love when he presented his first concert he had arranged to raise money for CP and special needs that brought in nearly 7000 UAH for this wonderful cause!

To be continued