Helen; (right) my grandkids, Tony with great-grandson
Philip, Josh, Allison, Julia. Kyle is probably playing soccer.
I tutor fifteen-year-old Helen in English. Her parents, Luda and Andre, want her to do well in her studies. Helen is a busy teen. She's about the same age as my granddaughter Allison, who's in the 9th grade at her Sylvania, Ohio, high school.
A Ukrainian teen, an American teen. Though worlds apart, Alli and Helen share some of the same interests: sports, music, dancing, the computer and internet games, text messaging, and spending time with friends.
Also, they both like to shop. I think Helen would like the big malls we have in America, and Alli would like the specialty stores and shops here in Ukraine. I'm sure Alli would love walking through the Bazaar with Helen. Whenever I see Helen, I think of Alli, and all of my grandchildren.
Helen is close to her four cousins, Nastia, Mary, Ksusha and Vita. They are like sisters to her. Two live in Starobilsk, and two in Krosnohrad, a few hours from here. Last month she visited Kiev with friends. She loves the city.
Helen's not sure what she wants to be when she grows up, but she likes politics. That surprised me. "I am a patriot," she says proudly, and in perfect English. She means that she loves her country and is proud of her heritage.
When I ask her about the upcoming presidential election, she is diplomatic. She's not sure who she would vote for if she could vote. Politics can be corrupt, she says.
Well, maybe you'll be president of Ukraine one day, I say. She laughs. "I hope politics gets better before that." Me, too. I wish Helen could vote. I wish I could vote for Helen.