Our protagonist is a bookworm and a nature lover. She was a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature, ho continued to work even after retired.
She had everything – a happy family, a dream career and a house with a view overlooking the sea and mountains in the beautiful Crimea.
All of this disappeared at once, in 2014, after Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. Ukrainian language and literature were no longer welcome, and teachers no longer needed.
“The topic of annexation of Crimea…. This topic is very painful… I do not want get back to it. It still hurts a lot. It so happened that I witnessed Russian troops entering at night. That day I took the children to Simferopol for the Shevchenko poetry contest. I saw it all with my own eyes. I saw those “green men”. I was very worried. It is very difficult for me to talk about it.”
To stay was not a save option. Not only our protagonist, but also her family, could face persecution, or even jail. She refused to change her beliefs, her language, documents, and to submit to Crimea’s new governors. She couldn’t stay.
Army walked on the streets, and her family were under constant pressure. She decided to move to Cracow, a city she remembered from her travels. She escaped to Poland with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
They found a life in Cracow, although as they didn’t speak Polish, and their educational degrees aren’t formally accepted so they faced some big issues upon arrival. Her daughter and son-in-law had to find new jobs, unrelated to their past career paths and education.. It was a big change for the family. Our protagonist stayed at home and took care of her grandchildren.
She likes Poland and Poles. People who usually react compassionately after hearing she escaped from Crimea.
„Of course, I read about the negative attitude [towards immigrants], but personally, I did not feel it. I want Poles to see Humans in us. I am pleased when Ukrainians and Poles take part in various events together. It is important that Poles see our soul sincere and open. (…) I want there to be mutual understanding between Ukrainians and Poles.”
Our protagonist had to leave the country she loved so much. We are on the same page wishing Poles and Ukrainians to find mutual understanding and her family to get a chance to develop their professional careers and have good life.
From so far to so close.