ukraine is my home.
It is through the path of a young democracy, searching for its own place, we really learn the meaning of freedom and how to embroider our new fate on a canvas woven by ancestors.
“Asian, go home.” - someone whispered over my shoulder as I was passing through a subway station. I continued walking in silence, disregarding - something I was always told to do when hearing similar remarks from strangers. Just a day ago I arrived to the city, which I’ve always called my hometown, already catching it in its old habits. The relationship with my home is like of origami — sometimes paper cuts me, but I never cut it. I crease and bend, never distorting it, always adhering to the rules and natural behavior of paper. Origami shaped me, hurting my fingers and so equally adding new layers to my identity and bringing me true freedom, once that was just a blank page. Ukraine is where I was born, grew up, and became who I am.
And the truth is I deeply love my home. Growing up in the eastern part of Ukraine (Kharkiv), I would never alter or trade all the unique experiences I lived through there. No matter how much I struggled to navigate being sometimes the only asian person in the classroom, I always felt ukrainian in soul (and passport) because there I truly learned to experience freedom — in creativity, self-expression, love to live. From learning the cultural heritage of the Soviet art and music, historical complexity of the Ukrainian literature and language, the architectural patterns of eclecticism I always passed by on the streets, profound conversations fwith teachers who survived WW2 to the simplest happiness that i had obtained - my dear friends.
It wasn’t always easy for my country, but we did it. After years of corruption, Kremlin’s manipulative politics and broken legal system, it is in 2013 when we, young generation, made a choice. When in 1994 our older generation made a choice for no more “Little Russia,” today and 8 years ago we are making a choice for freedom and democracy. And we are just beginning our path of embroidering new fate on a canvas woven by ancestors. I am telling to my friends that it is through the path of a young democracy, searching for its own place in this big world, one really learns the meaning and true face of freedom. But, unfortunately, what it takes is beyond comprehension — the destruction of millions of lives of my family, friends, teachers, and those strangers who I once met at a subway station; the destruction of hundreds of cultural heritage artifacts and urban spaces; the erasure of the Ukrainian territory on the map. Why?
I didn’t write here for a long time, but I’ll be back to this newsletter once I feel better and once I can share all the projects I’ve been working on. If you have a kind moment, please, check out this page https://ukraineatwar.today/ to help my home in whatever means you can. My research collaborators at Berkeley AI lab and I are speaking out in scientific community about recent Op-Ed piece published at IEEE Spectrum to question editorial integrity of the article. I am also asking you to use your position in power to speak out on inhumane war crimes committed in Ukraine.
thank you, and see you soon 💔