Opinion: Ukrainians are no worse than others
During all the time I lived, studied and worked in the United States, I understood one simple thing - Ukrainians have no grounds for an inferiority complex. Neither individuals nor society. Not that I myself have suffered from this, but I have repeatedly seen manifestations of "but where are we going ..." - especially from representatives of the older generation.
Not only me, but other students from Ukraine who studied with me at Ohio State University were no worse, and in some cases better than other students. Overcoming imperfect English, as well as the inability to quickly type texts in English, we wrote decent work and passed the exams well. They also participated in scientific conferences and won prestigious summer practices. Even as a student of the year, when I graduated from a university with many thousands of students, Iryna Zayachuk from Lviv was recognized.
Today, working for the Ukrainian service of the Voice of America, we highlight the achievements of Ukrainians in the United States. They start successful tech companies. They make scientific discoveries. Establish an original and successful business. Reach heights in art and sports. Leave their mark on the revolutionary technological changes of humanity. When I was on a business trip to San Francisco / Sacramento, where I focused on these stories, the American cameraman who worked with me had the impression that Ukrainians are some kind of super-people.
And I believe that Ukrainians in Ukraine should be proud of these achievements - even if successful Ukrainians in the USA have long left their home country or were not even born there, do not speak Ukrainian or speak poorly, graduated from a Russian university, were born in Russia or not. is 100% pure ethnic Ukrainians. Unfortunately, almost every story about the success of a Ukrainian necessarily includes comments about why this or that successful person is not a full-fledged Ukrainian, which means that his achievements do not count.
Ukrainians are a modern political nation with a very complex history, which is reflected in the personal history of each person. If you limit your national heritage to the achievements of only those Ukrainians who speak an exquisite Ukrainian language, were born on the territory of Ukraine, never lived abroad, studied exclusively in Ukrainian educational institutions, then you really have to give up a lot. But why? It is simply a different path to the same inferiority complex that was implanted in Soviet and imperial times.
Of course, many will say that Ukrainians succeed abroad, and not in their own country, because the best people leave. There are successful projects that are being created in Ukraine right now. We could see a small fraction of them, for example, at the exhibition TechCrunch in San Francisco, where 15 Ukrainian startups brought their inventions. I was personally impressed Passivedom. And many companies about which we wrote and made plots, such as Grammarly, have offices in the United States and in Ukraine.
If Ukrainians left or were even born abroad, in the modern world this does not mean that they are lost for Ukraine forever. You can evaluate the work of Natalia Yaresko and Ulyana Suprun in different ways, but these are examples of representatives of the diaspora who are represented (or have been) at the highest levels of Ukrainian power.
And even ordinary Ukrainian students, often not from the most prestigious universities, who come to the United States under the program “Work and Travel“, Leave a good impression. When a significantly larger percentage of Ukrainian students were denied visas at the US Consulate, it sparked panic among American employers hiring seasonal workers. Although students from half of all countries in the world participate in this program, Ukrainian youth - many employers assured me - are in high demand because they are hardworking, entrepreneurial and responsible.
If we talk about society as a whole, then at a distance I began to notice at least two positive features of Ukrainian society. These are strong horizontal ties and openness to the positive experience of other countries.
Friendship is like air
When I lived in Ukraine, the friendship was like the air I breathed. I never wondered whose turn to invite for coffee or whether we were close enough to celebrate the New Year together. It somehow happened by itself, and my social circle almost daily replenished with new interesting people.
Volunteering experience, which depends on the ability to organize, rely on an existing network of friends and acquaintances and find new ones, is an indicator of strong horizontal ties, at least in part of the Ukrainian society.
To be honest, it's harder for me in the USA. It takes years to get closer, planning to spend time together takes weeks, and the feeling of deep contact is rare. Of course, there is a big subjective factor here - I am older, I have a family and just finding time to communicate is already a challenge.
But, in general, everything is not so bad for me in this area, perhaps because there are many Ukrainians among my friends and acquaintances.
Former US Chief Surgeon (2014-2017) Vice Admiral Vivek Murphy believes that loneliness is the biggest threat to the health of a nation in the United States. In his article in Harvard Business Review he cites data showing that more than 40% of Americans feel lonely, and more than half of senior managers. There is a growing number of people who live alone and do not have a single person they can trust. All of this affects health and productivity, he writes, because we have evolved as social creatures, and the lack of relationships with other people - and it's not just about quantity, but also quality - brings chronic stress. He himself advises making friends at work, because often there are simply no other places for this, and managers - to facilitate this process.
Incidentally, research on happiness has led to the conclusion that it is the quality of relationships with other people that is the main factor in whether a person feels happy - and not wealth or individual achievement.
Learn from someone else and do not give up yours
I remember how, at a meeting with readers in Washington, the writer Andrey Kurkov said that Ukrainians are ideal immigrants: hardworking and able to adapt to the rules and requirements of a new society. If you wander through the ethnic areas of some American and European cities, it becomes obvious that people from far from all countries can do this as well as Ukrainians.
Residents and inside Ukraine are interested in foreign experience and are ready to borrow the best samples. What says at least an interest in such publications.
The United States is an amazing phenomenon in this regard. On the one hand, it is a "melting pot" of nations and cultures. The legacy of many of them falls into the cultural mainstream and begins to be considered an almost American heritage - like Italian pizza or Latin American tacos. Scientists, inventors, artists, themselves or their foreign parents, are contributing to American science and culture.
On the other hand, borrowing the European, Australian or Canadian experience to solve pressing problems is often rejected by a significant part of society, because it is "socialism". For example, it is difficult for me to imagine that the United States has introduced a medical reform on the Canadian-British model. The Australian experience in solving the problem of mass shooting in public space was discussed exactly one day after the shooting of people in Las Vegas. So-called American Exceptionalism (American exclusivity) makes the USA reinvent the wheel all the time.
Here they have not even switched to the metric system, because they have their own one - with inches and miles. And by the way, one shouldn't think that they are so comfortable with her. Those who want to do science should study both. I remember in a design class at Ohio University we had to reproduce a drawing from paper on a computer. American students measured lines in inches, enumerated them in some decimal system specially invented for this, and entered these data into a computer. With two Romanians, we turned the ruler over, measured and entered the millimeters into the program - and without any arithmetic, we completed the task 10 times faster than the others and without errors.
And changes in Ukraine are happening quite quickly. I understand that it does not seem so to those who live in Ukraine, but every time I visit my historical homeland, I see something new. The last time I was struck by the well-groomed appearance of the Kharkiv region - each house had flower beds, playgrounds were repaired and were actively used by children with their parents, and not by local drug addicts and alcoholics.
Of course, many problems remain in Ukraine - poverty, war, and corruption. But neither the Ukrainian mentality, nor any qualities inherent in Ukrainians are them. At least - no more than in any other country in the world. I do not want to say that Ukrainians are better than other nations of the world, but certainly not worse.
The original column is published on Online Ukrainian Service “Voices America. "
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