Red Hook Daily Catch

After NPR Broadcasts, Our Ukraine Correspondent Reacts: “It’s touching that my simple life interests other people. Sharing makes us all better.”

Pavel Kuljuk and The Daily Catch have been working with NPR for five months on a podcast for the show, “Rough Translation.” (photo by Pavel Kuljuk).

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, NPR’s show, “Rough Translation,” presented a 40-minute podcast spotlighting our Ukraine correspondent, Pavel Kuljuk, and our Red Hook readers’ reactions to the columns he has penned since the start of the Ukraine War in February. An abbreviated version of the podcast aired this morning on NPR’s daily broadcast, “Morning Edition.” The Daily Catch reached out to Kuljuk today to hear his response. Here is his reply. 

Meet our Ukrainian correspondent, Pavel Kuljuk.

NPR has been working with me and The Daily Catch on this podcast for many months. And today, voila, there it is!

I listened to this podcast, and I felt like a child when their parents cut the cake on their birthday. I feel loved and celebrated, and it makes me love and feel celebratory in return. The program is amazing. The sounds, the music, the voices create a living reality – my reality — 4,500 miles from Red Hook.

I haven’t listened to the radio for 30 years. I could not even imagine that the radio can convey emotions so realistically. Svetlana said, “I don’t understand English. But it sounds very nice.”

For me, the show is like a Broadway production. I listened and suddenly thought, ‘Radio is an old-fashioned and conservative means of communication.’ But now, in the 21st century, radio sounds especially great. 

I will admit that when I first heard my voice on the program, I wanted to hide. I probably still don’t understand what happened: a podcast that endeavored to capture my life and did so with such care and accuracy. Like war, in a way, all big events, all momentous occasions, are not understood immediately. Understanding comes with time. This program will be like that for me. I laughed, though, when I heard Dora’s meow and the sound of a chopper hitting the ground.

So, yes, I am laughing because, you know, in the end, I’m very pleased. But I don’t know what to do with these feelings. I try to feel like a star, like Michael Jackson. But no. That does not work. I’m not a star. I’m not cool. Here is another meaning, though. It’s touching that my simple life interests other people so far from my home. We all become better by sharing life experiences. NPR and The Daily Catch serve ordinary people, not politicians, and not money. I’m so glad The Daily Catch exists. Your work is not for celebrities. Your work centers around the meaning of life. You are making the world a better place. And the world now will know you and love you for it.

Pavel Kuljuk has spoken openly about hoping to conceive a child during war with his wife, Svetlana (photo by Pavel Kuljuk).

I’m very grateful to The Daily Catch, and to your caring readers, for giving me the opportunity to share a piece of the Ukraine War, to make our little village relevant to a small town 4,500 miles away. The Daily Catch, it is clear, has helped to change what the word “local” means in today’s world, and during this brutal war. Thank you for that and for finding relevance in my story that could have been just a nuisance to you.

I especially liked the photo of Dora. She was sick then, in part by my neglect, and I was so afraid that she would not survive. But she made it, and now she is a famous cat! Dora is the star of the NPR shows. This makes me laugh. You must always believe that, somehow, even in the midst of war, everything will be fine.

With gratitude to you for celebrating my simple life,


Read all of Pavel Kuljuk’s reports from Eastern Ukraine.

How can you help? NPR provides this list.

7 responses to “After NPR Broadcasts, Our Ukraine Correspondent Reacts: “It’s touching that my simple life interests other people. Sharing makes us all better.””

  1. Jean Golden says:

    It was a wonderful story, from our perspective in Red Hook, too. About how lives can be intertwined and love can be shared across oceans, continents, even ideologies, if only we can see one another as simple humans who love our cats, our families, our little towns where we live and grow our gardens. And it was also so powerfully about how human connection can open up our hearts, and help us to heal.
    We are all just walking each other home, as Ram Das has said. It has been a great pleasure walking beside you, Pavel. And thank you, Emily Sachar, and The Daily Catch, for bringing us together!
    May peace prevail on Earth.
    Jean Golden

    • Emily Sachar, Editor says:

      This comment brings tears to my eyes, Jean, for it shows not merely how you have felt connected to a human named Pavel, but also how you feel tied to the idea, and the importance of that idea, of simple human connection in all its myriad forms. You recognize that one great service 21st-century journalism can serve is to link humans together. And you have made that idea real by participating in the Pavel experiment. Pavel and I both thank you.

    • Pavlo Kuliuk says:

      Jean Golden, thank you very much for your kind words. I have been a journalist for 15 years. But it was only with The Daily Catch that I was able to experience such a strong intimacy with readers. It’s an amazing experience. This is what real journalism should be. I love the people of Red Hook. God bless this lovely town.

  2. Alison Castle says:

    Glad to see this touching story being shared with a wider audience!

    • Pavlo Kuliuk says:

      Alison Castle, we all did a great job together. It was your attention that helped me write my reports. Without the support of The Daily Catch readers, none of this would have been possible.

  3. Agatha Bacelar says:

    So sweet. I love how this story keeps on evolving, like pen pals writing in public. NPR has always been at the forefront of producing amazing audio stories and this episode from Rough Translation was no exception. Everyone in Red Hook should listen to it!

    Pavel, since you like to travel and get to know people and places via the internet, podcasts and audio interviews can be a new layer for your research. I especially love listening to StoryCorps interviews with regular people. You can go on their website and filter interviews by location, keyword, and year. All interviews are also archived at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. to democratize the U.S. historical record. Enjoy!

    • Pavlo Kuliuk says:

      Agatha Bacelar you are right. We managed to create an amazing story about mutual understanding of people. In fact, readers participated in writing reports. Very often I thought about the people of Red Hook when I worked in the garden in Malotaranovka. The spirit and energy of the people of Red Hook gave me strength. March was a turning point. It was then that thoughts about your small town gave me the strength to dig up 10 acres of land and plant zucchini. This gave rise to all subsequent stories. Marvelous. But a journalist without readers cannot create. These stories confirm this. Thanks for the advice. I will read the interview. The podcasts are amazing. I’m surprised how modern radio programs can convey reality.

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