When John Deever
became one of the first Peace Corps volunteers in Ukraine, he found people living under an incredible weight—oppressive economic conditions, perpetually overcast skies, diet dominated by heavy root vegetables and alcohol. Yet in that place where even his young students carried the difficulty of daily life like a heavy burden, he also found new friends who took joy in the simplest pleasures and were thrilled to encounter the wider world through the first American most had ever known. With affection for his subject, Deever brings this little-known part of the world to life.
Ohio native John Deever taught English from 1993-95 as a member of the first group of English teachers sent by the Peace Corps to the newly independent country of Ukraine. His essay "To Peel Potatoes" won the 1996 Peace Corps Experience Award given by RPCV Writers and Readers and appeared in Peace Corps: The Great Adventure. Currently, he works for ISAR: Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia, a nonprofit environmental organization that supports independent citizen initiatives across the former Soviet Union.