Sunday, May 28

‘Beautiful And Sad At The Same Time’: Ukrainian Cultural Festival Takes On A Deeper Meaning This Year


SILVER SPRING, Md. — For some, it’s listening to air raid sirens whereas speaking with kinfolk again in Ukraine. For others, it’s the concern that Ukraine could change into an financial basket case, even when it wins the battle. Or that the world could neglect the nation’s plight altogether.

Ukrainans, their associates and people merely curious in regards to the nation that’s fought Russia to standstill gathered on a sun-splashed weekend at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in suburban Washington for the region’s biggest annual Ukrainian cultural pageant.

Amid girls carrying garlands of their hair, males carrying vyshyvanka — white shirts with intricately patterned embroidery down the entrance — and accompanied by conventional and pop Ukrainian music, the battle was by no means removed from individuals’s minds. What in previous years had been an opportunity to showcase the tradition and drink some beers from the house nation had taken on a unique, considerably deeper that means.

“This yr is especially lovely and unhappy on the similar time,” mentioned the church pastor, the Rev. Volodymr Steliac, as he formally opened the pageant Saturday.

“We have seen the worst of humanity however on the similar time we now have seen the very best of humanity.”

The pageant opened on Day 206 of the invasion and got here amid excellent news for Ukraine: a surprise counteroffensive in the northeast that in just a few days cleared Russians from cities and villages they’d fought weeks to take earlier within the battle.

But the victory got here with a worth. In the strategic city of Izium, mass graves were found, much like these seen within the capital Kyiv’s suburb of Bucha when the battle started.

“We have seen the worst of humanity however on the similar time we now have seen the very best of humanity.”

– The Rev. Volodymr Steliac, St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral

Oksana Sukhina, who was staffing the sales space of the U.S. Ukraine Foundation, the place she is challenge director, mentioned she needed to see what the influence of the most recent studies of atrocities can be on Europe.

In the previous, she mentioned, some individuals suspected Ukrainians have exaggerated the cruelty of the Russians with studies of horrific claims like rape as a weapon of battle and the theft of family items then shipped to Russia.

“Then you see Bucha, you see now Izyum. And we now have but to see Kherson and Mariupol and different locations,” Sukhina mentioned.

Sukhina, 50, immigrated to the U.S. from Kyiv in 2020. Warned by former colleagues within the State Department in regards to the chance of invasion, her dad and mom arrived in Washington solely days earlier than the battle.

But because the prospect of Kyiv’s being captured receded, they went again, as did one in all her daughters. They joined a 23-year-old son who left his IT job in Chicago in March to assist ship meals and medical provides in Kyiv.

Sukhina mentioned she tried to persuade him to remain, however couldn’t forbid him to go away as a result of she had participated in pro-democracy protests in 2004 and 2014.

“I’m happy with them. They try to do no matter they will. And that is what makes us win,” she mentioned.

Attendees of the 2022 Washington Ukrainian Festival enjoy traditional music on the grounds of the Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Saturday Sept. 17.
Attendees of the 2022 Washington Ukrainian Festival take pleasure in conventional music on the grounds of the Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Saturday Sept. 17.

Steliac mentioned the church was open 24-7 when the battle started. He was solely getting two or three hours of sleep an evening as volunteers dropped off humanitarian assist, organized it and shipped it to Ukraine.

In one 48-hour interval, he mentioned, two of these younger volunteers misplaced their fathers again in Ukraine.

“The battle shouldn’t be there alone; the battle is right here as properly,” Steliac mentioned.

Even although the method of gathering and sending assist has change into extra routine, even retaining in contact with household again house, he mentioned, will be painful.

“What was traumatic was that they have been speaking with their kinfolk and so they mentioned, ‘Oh, a bomb fell simply a few neighborhoods over’ after which they tried to attach once more and the telephone connection doesn’t undergo,” Steliac mentioned.

“You consider the worst.”

Alex Naumovych, a 36-year outdated mortgage mortgage officer from Ternopil within the western a part of Ukraine, mentioned he’s had calls interrupted by the air raid sirens, though now he mentioned the alarms are prone to be ignored.

Ternopil, a metropolis of about 250,000, has no navy targets, however he mentioned his dad and mom nonetheless hear the sirens each day. Ukraine tracks incoming missiles and prompts native warning methods based mostly on the place they may doubtlessly land, so even residents of cities not focused are warned.

“I’m anxious that, in the end, a type of missiles could hit my metropolis, like my dad and mom’ place,” Naumovych mentioned.

Naumovych arrived within the U.S. nearly 11 years in the past. He had about $440 to his identify then, he mentioned, and began a landscaping enterprise he bought years later for greater than $1 million.

“I’m anxious that, in the end, a type of missiles could hit my metropolis, like my dad and mom’ place.”

– Alex Naumovych, mortage mortgage officer initially from Ternopil area of Ukraine

“I really like this nation. Like you may include $400 and 6, seven years later you generally is a millionaire,” he mentioned.

One of his massive worries for Ukraine now could be its economic system, with so many individuals out of labor due to the battle and inflation projected to hit 30%.

“The economic system is in unhealthy form,” Naumovych mentioned. “Lots of people left Ukraine and I’m unsure they’re coming again”

The dad and mom of software program engineer Serhiy Vorobiov, 43, are close to the battle’s entrance line in Zaporizhzhya, a Russian-speaking area that features Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Russia has captured the plant and Ukrainians and others concern they’ll use it for blackmail.

But Vorobiov mentioned his dad and mom, solely 25 miles from the entrance traces within the metropolis of Zaporizhzhya, nonetheless assume every little thing is comparatively protected. He mentioned he chats with them with about the identical frequency as earlier than the battle.

“Maybe as a result of there isn’t any very excessive emergency at this level. I do know it’s to not my protection, however that’s how it’s,” he mentioned.

Vorobiov, his spouse Oksana, 33, and their three younger youngsters, Yaromyr, Myroslava and Oksana, have lived within the U.S. since 2020. He mentioned the battle has strengthened his perception in eliminating any Russian affect on their upbringing.

“I all the time dreamed of it, I simply didn’t wish to be very powerful in that. But now I’ve all of the rights and I wish to use it,” Vorobiov mentioned.

“I would like them to neglect [the] Russian language. We are from [the] Russian-speaking a part of Ukraine, however now we’re fixing it, as a lot as we are able to. Forget Russian, neglect we have been ever collectively, [forget] Soviet Union. I’m joyful they don’t know what Soviet Union is.”

People receiving humanitarian aid in June in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, near the largest nuclear plant in Europe.
People receiving humanitarian assist in June in Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, close to the biggest nuclear plant in Europe.

SOPA Images by way of Getty Images

But in her remarks to open the festivities, Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, suggested specializing in the current, not the previous.

“Please be joyful at present,” she endorsed.

She mentioned Russian chief Vladimir Putin and the Russians need Ukrainians to “sit down and cry” on the devastation.

“This is what Russians need us to do. And we won’t give it to them.”

Forensic technicians investigate a mass grave site in a forest near Izium, in eastern Ukraine, on September 18, 2022.
Forensic technicians examine a mass grave website in a forest close to Izium, in jap Ukraine, on September 18, 2022.

JUAN BARRETO by way of Getty Images


2022-09-19 13:03:18

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