Thursday, February 20, 2014

I am Ukrainian and Canadian and American

I was at an optimization conference in Florida when the violence in Ukraine started to escalate and, coincidentally, two other U.S.-based faculty, who were also at the conference, but were born in Ukraine, brought this news to my attention.

Since my return to Amherst the news in Ukraine has only gotten worse with horrifying bloodshed and deaths and with many vivid reports -- see the one by Frida Ghitis, writing for CNN, with whom I have communicated.
The country of my parents, Ukraine, and that of my first language, is now frontpage news not only in the European press but also in the U.S.

I was born in Canada but did not learn how to speak English until we immigrated to the U.S., and I entered kindergarten.  Ukrainian was the language that we spoke at home. I, finally, visited Ukraine, when  I was invited to give a keynote talk in Yalta in August 2010 at the Network Science conference.

I first made a stop in Kiev,  now the epicenter of the demonstrations, which began in November, and which have reached a tipping point this week because of the frustration of the people.

Below are some photos from Kiev, where I was welcomed by a colleague from the University of Pittsbrugh, and ate the most delicious borshcht in my life and the same for the varenyky!
Yalta, the site of the conference, was spectacular as the photos below reveal and another location of historical importance plus the conference was fantastic!
Given the suffering in Ukraine, and that even one of my former doctoral students at the Isenberg School, Dmytro Matsypura, who is now tenured at the School of Business at the University of Sydney in Australia, took part in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, I had to speak out.

Please, let the people be free. The government should protect its own citizens and let them be governed as they wish to be.  Look at how brilliantly Poland is doing, Ukraine's neighbor to the west.

Yesterday, after not much sleep, since I had returned from the Florida conference in the wee hours of the morn, I gathered some beautiful Ukrainian creations and photographed them. I display them below -- from our Easter eggs, to our ceramics, to lavish embroideries. Let's make peace and have art, beauty, and science rule instead of hatred and violence.

I am Ukrainian and Canadian and American.