When I travel, one question remains the same – where are you from. Seemed to be banal and easy to answer. What do we mean by the combination of words Me and From? I was born in Ukraine, raised by Ukrainians, taught by the world. I had my crucial moments of maturity in the USA, I still feel bound to my American family. I had two most significant years in my whole life in Poland. Polish culture raised a woman and a global citizen in me. I became a local in Cracow. However, I feel a unique feeling of calmness in Stockholm, Valencia, and Wien. Am I local there? No, but we share the same vibes when we reunite again. Currently, I live in Brazil and I don’t feel any connection to this world and culture. Everything surprises me and opens my eyes widely. So why do we still ask where are you from but not where you feel good? What cities and cultures raised you?
Once I was asked if I love being a Ukrainian. And for the first time in my life, I started thinking about how I feel when I come back home, whether I like it, whether I feel proud.
I asked myself who the Ukrainians are.
They are corrupted millionaires with golden forks for breakfast, they are sons of politicians who sold Ukraine for the chocolate “Roshen”, they are last judges who left the constitution under the school desk. Would I love to belong to them and stay in one line holding a yellow-and-blue flag with a hand on the heart? Who are all those people who name themselves the posterity of Kozaks and Bandera?
You look deeper and see poverty, parents struggling to give the education to the smallest getting 100$ per month. You see people singing Okean Elzy songs in the evening and conquering Carpathian mountains on the weekends. Patriots? Ukrainian sons? What about youth that is dying under the shots of propaganda and heals the wounds caused by Creamia annexation.
Are we crossing them out?
What about my brothers who chose to live in a military tent in Donbas and bury friends every night covered in a flag of wheat and sky? Are we forgetting them? Are they also named Ukrainians and stay in the same line giving a hand to a daughter in Louboutins? We are not proud anymore to be one of them. We are proud to belong to Shevchenko’s poems and Gapchinska’s world. That’s why I leave a crowd every day and name myself as “raised by Ukraine, taught by the world”.
And maybe we should change the question of “Where are you from?” and ask instead “Who raised you?”, “Who is your brother?”