A Visit to the 21st Century at the Passport Office

One thing that has been remarkable to our American brains is how much is done here using paper documents, stamps, seals, ink signatures, hand-carrying, and approvals by higher levels of bureaucrats. In America, we’re used to going to a government office and having all our information (correct or not) available at a computer terminal. To get what you want, fees are paid and the clerk hits the enter key.

The official visit to the passport office was the first reminder of the 21st century American experience. The passport office had computers, digital cameras, flat-screen monitors, printers, and modern office furniture. It reminded me of what you would likely see at the driver’s license renewal office.

The journey from the COCH orphanage to the passport office was pleasant but long. Of course, the engineer in me was excited to drive through the massive highway construction zone, and the traffic slowdown gave me enough time to examine the finer points of Ukrainian civil engineering practices and bridge design. I’m such a nerd. Our facilitator said the construction was intended to be complete in time for Ukraine to host the European soccer tournaments next year. I have also read elsewhere that they are giving the police English lessons, and some signs on the Metro are in English and/or Ukrainian words are spelled with the Latin alphabet.

Tourist time has been very limited here, but the history nerd within was satisfied as well. On the way back from the passport office, we recrossed a bridge over the Dnipro headed west. Up ahead was the huge statue commemorating the victory over the Nazis in World War II. While examining the statue, I noticed the bridge we were on was built in 1953. The decoration on the bridge was filled with Soviet symbolism including stars, hammers and sickles, heads of grain, etc.

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