From Ukraine: A Family Reunion in America
In New York City, Ukrainian ex-pat, Anna Just, met her husband after studying acting for a few years. The couple now shares a young son together nearly 5,000 miles from Ukraine.
“And here I’m alone so, I hire an unknown person as a nanny,” Just said. “It’s a full-on war. It’s a genocide of Ukrainians, and it’s unbelievable.”
A Long-Time Coming
Ukraine gained independence in 1991. “Until 2004, when Ukraine chose one president and then Russia decided to push another one. That’s when the Orange Revolution happened.”
This is also the year when the Ukraine lost nuclear arms due to demands by Russia’s previous president, Yeltsin. “[The Russians] use the Ukraine to trade gas because they use the land passage and the sea. And, they don’t want us to be NATO.”
Russia does not want to lose the Ukraine to either NATO nor to the EU. History is surely repeating itself.
“Same thing has happened to Cyprus,” Just said. “Since 1975, Turkey’s been occupying a part of Cyprus, and therefore it cannot be a part of the EU.”
Empires Fall Apart
“Nobody really believed that Putin was that crazy,” Anna Just explained.
Disbelief explains why residents were slow to leave town despite the visible signs of impending warfare. Once reluctant evacuees would eventually end up abandoning their motor vehicles in their haste and walking to get through the customs check at every crossing point along the border.
“My mom just made the same way as millions of Ukrainian people,” Just explained.
“In 1945; Great Britain, America, and Soviet Union were allies fighting Nazis. Today, Russia turned into a Nazi fighting their allies,” she said. “But, Anna thinks that she and her family are very fortunate. Anna continued, “Every empire, every dictator fell apart, and no matter how much you work on keeping your empire together it’s gonna fall apart regardless.”
When both Poland and Finland entered the EU, the quality of life improved for both countries. Especially for Finland, the difference was vast. Finland had been some of the Russian Empire’s poorest performing land. In a frigid “post”-Cold War atmosphere, “Ukraine is like a buffer zone.”
Tragedy as Competition
Moreover, Anna Just elaborated on the emotional and psychological toll the war has taken on her family.
“I don’t know whether it’s Monday or Tuesday. I don’t know whether it’s May or April, but I know it’s day 68.” Now is no time to practice restraint for politeness’ sake. “Why do I post about Ukraine? Because I am Ukrainian! Because I come from there. Because my mother lost her home, and she’s a war refugee.”
When life has become a surrealist blur, fights on social media can be easy to come by.
“People will always find what to fight [about],” Just said. “And I think it comes from lack of education.”
Anna surely keeps it real with her son, openly displaying her emotions. She wants him to understand the reality of their circumstances.
“I do not shy away from crying in front of my son,” Just said. “I don’t want to hold back emotions because held back emotions are like stale water. They start to go bad, right? They breed diseases.”
History Repeating Itself
As any parent would, this mother from Ukraine simply wants the best for her son.
“I want my son to be a decent man with great education, and who understands that there are different points of view and backgrounds for all the people,” Anna Just concluded.