Opinion: Ukrainians are no worse than others - ForumDaily
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Opinion: Ukrainians are no worse than others

Фото: Depositphotos

During all the time I lived, studied and worked in the USA, I understood one simple thing - Ukrainians have no reason to have an inferiority complex. Neither individuals nor society. It’s not that I myself suffer from this, but I have repeatedly seen manifestations of “where are we going to…” - 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 in the Ukrainian service of the Voice of America, we highlight the achievements of Ukrainians in the United States. They start successful technology companies. They make scientific discoveries. Found an original and successful business. They reach the top in art and sports. They 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 camerawoman who worked with me got 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 Ukrainians who were successful in the United States have long since left their native country or were not even born there, do not speak Ukrainian or speak it poorly, graduated from a Russian university, were born in Russia or not is 100% pure ethnic Ukrainians. Unfortunately, under almost every story about the success of a Ukrainian, there are always comments about why this or that successful person is not a full-fledged Ukrainian, and therefore 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 the refined Ukrainian language, were born on the territory of Ukraine, have never lived abroad, and studied exclusively in Ukrainian educational institutions, then you will really have to give up a lot. But why? This is simply another path to the same inferiority complex that was instilled 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 forever to Ukraine. One can evaluate the work of Natalia Yaresko and Ulyana Suprun differently, but these are examples of representatives of the diaspora who are (or were) represented at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government.

And even ordinary Ukrainian students, often not from the most prestigious universities, who come to the USA under the “Work and Travel“, leave behind good impressions. When a significantly larger percentage of Ukrainian students began to be denied visas at the US Consulate, it caused panic among American employers hiring seasonal workers. Although students from half the world's countries participate in this program, Ukrainian youth—more than one employer has assured me—are in high demand because they are hardworking, enterprising, and responsible.

If we talk about society as a whole, at least two positive features of Ukrainian society became noticeable to me from a distance. These are strong horizontal ties and openness to the positive experience of other countries.

Фото: Depositphotos

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.

The experience of volunteering, 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 Ukrainian society.

In the USA, to be honest, it’s harder for me. It takes years to get close, weeks to plan to spend time together, and the feeling of contact on a deep level is extremely rare. Of course, there is a big subjective factor here - I’m 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 among my friends and acquaintances there are many Ukrainians.

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 among senior managers, more than half do. There are a growing number of people who live alone and have no one they can trust. All of this takes a toll on health and productivity, he writes, because we evolved as social creatures, and a lack of relationships with other people—and we're not just talking about quantity but also quality—leads to chronic stress. He himself advises making friends at work, because often there are simply no other places for this, and managers should facilitate this process.

By the way, research on happiness suggests that it is the quality of relationships with other people that is the main factor in whether a person feels happy—not wealth or individual achievement.

Фото: Depositphotos

Learn from someone else and do not give up yours

I remember how, at a meeting with readers in Washington, the writer Andrei Kurkov said that Ukrainians are ideal immigrants: hardworking and able to adapt to the rules and requirements of the new society. If you wander through the ethnic areas of some American and European cities, it becomes obvious that people from not 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 USA is an amazing phenomenon in this regard. On the one hand, it is a “melting pot” of nations and cultures. The heritage of many of them enters the cultural mainstream and begins to be considered almost an American heritage - like Italian pizza or Latin American tacos. Scientists, inventors, artists, themselves or their parents, who came from other countries, contribute to American science and culture.

On the other hand, borrowing European, Australian or Canadian experience to solve pressing problems is often rejected by a large part of society because it is “socialism”. For example, it is difficult for me to imagine that medical reform along the Canadian-British model would be introduced in the United States. The Australian experience in solving the problem of mass shootings in public space was discussed exactly 24 hours 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 haven’t even switched to the metric system yet, because they have their own system - with inches and miles. And by the way, don’t think that they are so comfortable with her. Those who want to pursue science must study both. I remember in my design class at Ohio University we had to reproduce a design from paper on the computer. American students measured the lines in inches, listed them in some decimal system specially invented for this purpose, and entered this data into the computer. Two Romanian girls and I turned the ruler over, measured and entered 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 doesn’t seem that way 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 Kharkov region - every house had flower beds, playgrounds were renovated and were actively used by children with their parents, and not by local drug addicts and alcoholics.

Of course, there are still many problems 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 don’t want to say that Ukrainians are better than other nations in the world, but certainly not worse.

The original column is published on Online Ukrainian Service “Voices America. "

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