How I got to like Maps

Born in the 1970th in the USSR, I grew up with paper maps, written in Russian. Our school maps were huge and it was easy to get lost in them. Most places were hard to relate to because few people were able to travel back then, and we knew little about the outside world from personal experience or from the experiences of people who were in our immediate circle. Wall maps for homes or globes were not very common, and hard to find. 

It was 1997, six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when I first held a wall map in English. It came as a supplement to English textbooks by Oxford University Press that started to emerge in the Ukrainian English textbook market in Kharkiv (where I had lived at the time) much to the delight of teachers and students and distributors alike, raised on boring colorless Soviet textbooks, that taught the kind of English that only vaguely reminded of modern English. If you bought a textbook from an Oxford Press distributor (the books were not available in stores), you could get a map of Great Britain as a bonus. And what a lovely map it was! It was the most beautiful map I had seen. It was just the right size, not too large and not too small, fit any space in any room perfectly without claiming too much. It was colorful and glossy and it was in English! Just touching it gave me chills. So smooth. And I was not the only one impressed by that map. Hundreds of English teachers and many of my friends and neighbours who did not know a word of English except for maybe “thank you”, “I love you” and “good bye”, and “London is the capital of Great Britain”, bought that map from me, for I proposed to be a map distributor back then on top of my teaching job, seeing its value right away. I made a lot of happy customers that year. People fell in love with that map the moment they saw it. It did not even matter to them that it cost as much as a textbook. Looking at that map, they saw everything they were devoid of looking at (and studying from) the Soviet style textbooks and educational materials: beauty, elegance, simplicity, comfort, future prospects. That map gave hope. Hope that the world out there can be a better place. And that it was within an arm’s reach. 

A lot of plants in Ukraine were closing down in the end of the 90th. My mother (and thousands of employees) who had worked at one of of them for over 30 years was left without income, and when I was departing to the USA in 1998 after winning a grant as a young scholar, I left her with a package of these maps to sell. She may have survived that year thanks to the maps. In the hungry uncertain traumatic post-Soviet Union years, the maps became life saviors for my family…

It probably does not require any more explanation as to why I like maps and why I got to like Enjoy the Wood (ETW) maps right away, from the very first post I saw about them on social media, long before seeing the maps for the first time. Wooden wall maps by Enjoy the Wood offer everything those life saving Oxford University Press maps offered to their delighted customers and much more. They are exquisitely made from top quality wood, great for both home and business, come in different languages, and what’s very important, are sustainable. ETW maps will stay with your family for generations, keeping those memories and dreams alive. 

These days many more people have the advantage of being able to travel and the map is much more than a decoration or an assembly of places one may never get to. Maps have become a lot more real. The world has become a lot more familiar and reachable. We can make plans with a strong hope that one day, maybe even this Christmas or the following summer, these plans may come true. The map will be there right in front of us to remind us to follow our dreams, to not give up, to live life to the fullest. To live!

by Regina Lyahovetskaya, writer and a friend of ETW

1 comment

  • Vik

    Vik

    November 17, 2021 at 07:37 PM

    Very well presented a historical overview back in the USSR. Having kids it is a must to have maps but never had thought of maps made of wood, innovative idea to contribute to sustainability.

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