The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office operate a system called LOCATE.
This is a database which allows British citizens around the world to register and tell the the FCO where they are. This applies if you are a short term visitor to a country or even a long term expat etc. So, during the past months the British Embassy in Ukraine has been trying to find British citizens to register on the LOCATE system.
We at the BBCU also did our bit to help and sent messages to our members and contacts to persuade them to register. Some long term expats in Ukraine,did indeed register but some still view government databases as not a safe place to put their details.
Anyhow, the reward from the British Embassy in Ukraine for registering on LOCATE was an invitation to a reception hosted by the British Ambassador - Mr Leigh Turner at the wonderful Ambassadors House in Kyiv.
I estimate that about 60 people turned out. I was happy to attend as I actually saw many new faces. It made me realise that there is a life outside the world of business. All the meetings I attend are always business related, as there is a bunch of British expats that meet each other at some event on a regular basis. But this was different as many of the British citizens were people from the teaching profession, writers, support organisations (NGO's etc)and there were many 'non business' people. I met Mr Richard Shirt who has spent the past two years writing a book, just published entitled "Among The Ukrainians". I always envy but also admire those who can take time off to write a book. It's like a dream for many of us, as we know that we will probably never get around to actually doing it. See details about Richards book here: http://amongtheukrainians.co.uk
I observed one man standing on his own and I suspected he was not British. Due to the fact that he was very well dressed. Many Brits still do not know how to wear clothes and many still do not have any care about how they look.
So, I introduced myself and discovered him to be Mr Dmitry Ermolenko, not a typical British name. Dmitry has British citizenship but stays and conducts his business in Ukraine and Russia. Turns out he runs his own retail fashion company and has the licenses for over eleven well known international clothing brands for Ukraine, Russia and Kasakhstan.One smart guy.
Also had a conversation with a man from the Embassy Visa Section. Not an easy job working in an environment where he gets to decide who gets a visa and who doesn't. Well that was my introduction to him, but he sees thing in a different way in a world of systems, points, audits, getting the documents in the correct order etc.
He explained the process of always making sure he made a decision based on the knowledge that he may have to answer to an auditor at a later date. Although a nice man, after a few minutes of conversation I realised he and I live in different worlds. He also made me realise why I am a British EXPAT.