A mural portraying the Simpsons and that everything is fine. Chernobyl, Ukraine.

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I would imagine that most people don’t go to the exclusion zones by accident. It may be a morbid curiosity, a historical attraction, a scientific view in to reclamation by nature, whatever, but I will say that my guide (tourists do not go alone, and I would doubt that anyone except the most established scientists of the area can get permission to enter the inner exclusion zone without escort.

Personally, I see the site of Prypyat as a window in to a history we never got to see. Walking around the school (that the picture is taken in) you get a glimpse of a living, working school, there are books around, science books, social studies books, a poster explaining the insides of stars, the physics involved in a car moving and turning, sheets of music, writings on the wall from former students to current students, so on and so forth.

For me, it was amazing to walk through this place and imagine it being used, kids running around here like everywhere else in the world, attending class like everywhere else in the world, the kids here not part of any political alignment, they weren’t “Soviets” they just were. It, to me, was the most powerful part of walking around Prypyat. Not because I didn’t think that the Soviet Union didn’t have schools, or that they didn’t have kids or any such things, but just that, “Here is a place that was used in the exact same way as the US. Sure there is a poster with Lenin on the wall, but the general layout is similar to my Elementary school.”

I admit that I am somewhat of a nature and history nut, but I kind of view Prypyat like a national park. A place to go in and look at and let nature do what it wills. So, in a sense, I view putting this up in a school in Prypyat not terribly different from going to say, Garden of the Gods in Colorado and putting graffiti up on one of the rock structures.

As for triggering critical thought in the minds of the tourists, I think the guide my group had did a good job with that. Lots of people asked questions about things, people seemed generally engaged with the subject. Like I said above, no one accidentally goes there, especially not for the $120+ ticket cost and minimum 3 day advance planning (due to being required to forward passport information to the Ukr government).

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