Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chernobyl Victims, 22 years later

I did a handful of research on what the media is printing about Chernobyl today. A reporter and a photographer have created a photo essay. It is titled "Nuclear Nightmares." They have documented people and places affected by the disaster. Here is a pictoral example:

I advise everyone to check out this website:

The kids in the picture above are twin brothers. The normal looking one is deaf.
The other has hydrocephalus. This is just one example of the thousands who
have defects or cancer as a result of the distaster.

From this research, I was alarmed at the number of people who developed health
problems with their thyroids. Genetic mutations seem to be common in areas that
were contaminated. What's worse is that people did not know at first what areas, such as rivers, they should not use. I have developed a better understanding as to why this is
considered the world's worst nuclear disaster ever. I really do hope that more can be done to help these types of people and that no further damage comes from this tragedy.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Ukrainian Immigration - Chernobyl victim

Sadly I missed the field trip and like all of you have been caught up in all the finals, and just found time to do an extra post.  But, seeing as how many posts have "beat me to it" on this topic and are similar to one another, I think I'll try to tinker around with something no one has covered yet.

Vova Malifienko was a Ukrainian youth who came to the USA in 1990 seeking treatment for his leukemia.  He was able to come to the United States from the Ukraine thanks to Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall gang which is a camp for sick kids.  While here he met a doctor who gave him a cancer treatment who put his leukemia into remission.  The other seven kids who were with him were forced back to the Ukraine and ended up dying due to poor medical treatment.

He was faced with the same prospect, but appealed to the government to grant him permanent residency, and thankfully was allowed to stay.  "Vova demonstrates the qualities all American value," said Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat from New Jersey.

Ukrainian Paganism, Past and Present

For the vast majority of Ukrainian history, its people – the Slavs – have been pagan (worshiping a multitude of divine beings). Over the long period of time prior to Christianity’s adoption, the Rus’ (former name for Ukraine) had developed a strong culture, tied into their religious beliefs. In 988 C.E., when Prince Vladimir of Kiev baptized the Rus’, thereby denouncing paganism and officially adopting Christianity. However, he was only able to weaken polytheism’s grip on the Ukraine. The remnants of it still persist to the present day.
There are numerous examples of paganism’s presence in today’s Ukraine. Many such examples are the multitude of traditions practiced in conjunction with various Christian holidays. One such holiday is Ivana Kupala, which is supposed to be a celebration of John the Baptist. However many Ukrainians celebrating this holiday practice pagan pleasures such as jumping over a burning fire with a partner to purge the soul. These practices are part of its past. This tradition shows an attempt of an early way of Ukrainians to retain their rich and ancient religious culture.
One other such famous “textbook example” is the ancient ritual of pysanka or what is presently known as Easter egg decoration. As before, the sun, along with other major parts of nature, was given extreme respect. Eggs were painted with symbolic plants, animals and other living and non-living beings and were used in sun worship celebrations and later kept as juju’s. However, just as in Ivana Kupala, pysanky and its many symbols were blended with the Christian holiday Easter.

Immigrants in Cleveland

Growing up in Cleveland, I have often heard the saying that it is a “Melting Pot.” This brought me to wonder if any Ukrainians were involved in creating this melting pot, and  I was very excited when I found out that they were.

 Cleveland’s Polish immigrants began their immigration in the mid-19th century. They settled with the Czechs in what we now call Newburgh Heights and Slavic Village, in the area that was surrounding the Cuyahoga Valley. The St. Stanislaus Church was founded in 1888, and was a great influence on the community. Polish is still the language spoken in Slavic Village, as the people who live there celebrate their heritage each May Day and have a Harvest Festival in August.

 The first Ukrainian immigrants to arrive in Cleveland arrived in the mid-1870s. The majority settled in the Tremont neighborhood. More recent immigrants have created a Ukrainian commune in Parma, which is to the south of Cleveland. This community has Ukrainian newspapers, radio programs, and a museum: The Ukrainian Museum on Kenilworth in Tremont. Since I missed the field trip, I think visiting this museum in the heart of a Ukrainian area would be a great opportunity. Churches in the area, such as Sts. Peter and Paul in Tremont as well as St. Josaphat in Parma hold services in Ukrainian.

 Upon their arrival, the Ukrainian community life in Cleveland revolved solely around the church and fraternal unions. The largest of these organizations is the Ukrainian National Association, which began in 1902. They held their 100th convention in Cleveland, and presently have 14 branches. The community is clearly developing over time.

 I found it thrilling that after learning so much about Ukraine this semester, I was fortunate enough to learn that Ukrainian-Americans first settled in the city that I grew up in the 1880s.

Ukrainian Immigration the United States

Before World War I, almost 500,000 Ukrainians emigrated to the United States due to harsh conditions and oppression from the Soviet Empire as well as a lack of work for many farmers. The great influx of Ukrainians and their need for Orthodox Catholicism led to the creation of bishops for the Greek Orthodox Church in both the United States and Canada. The need for solidarity and independence was a catalyst for man Ukrainian nationalist organizations throughout America as avenues to keep in touch with their homeland. Even today, many ideas and cultural information is passed from the Ukraine to America through these organizations that are still very active today. This massive movement is sometimes called the Ukrainian Diaspora. 

During World War II and up until 1991, over a million and a half Ukrainians emigrated to the United States due to the constant and violent oppression by the Soviet Union and the surrounding war-torn countries as well as economic hardship throughout the country. 

In Michigan, there is a very large Ukrainian population and the surrounding area of Hamtramck, has many resulting buildings and customs relative to this fact. The majority of churches in Hamtramck are Greek Orthodox and much of the food and customs, as well as holidays, celebrated in the area are of Ukrainian descent with many festivals and customary foods and celebrations. The success of many Ukrainians in America is a fantastic testament to their bravery and resolve in fleeing their oppression and beginning anew in an entirely foreign country. 

Three Waves of Ukrainian Immigration

Ukrainian Americans, or residents of the U.S. who trace their ancestry back to Ukraine, are a large group of people that reside in this country. In the 2000 census, it showed that there are 862,000 Americans of Ukrainian decent living in the United States, most of which reside in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and California. 
There were three waves of emigrants from Ukraine that moved to the United States.

 The first wave took place in the 1870's and ended in 1914 because Ukrainian territory at that time was divided among a number of neighboring countries. When Ukrainians entered the US, they were not listed as Ukrainian, but as Poles, Slovaks, Hungarians, or Russians. About 500,000 Ukrainians, most from Western Ukraine, entered the US during this time period. Most of these people found work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania or on farms in the Dakota's. This first wave of Ukrainian immigrants established parishes and built churches.

The second wave of Ukrainian immigrants to the US came between the time period of 1920 to 1939. During this time period in Ukrainian history it was once again divided among the countries of Soviet Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Many Ukrainians sought out refuge from there divided and oppressed country and decided to move abroad. Due to the enactment of US immigration laws, only 40,000 Ukrainians were allowed to immigrate into the US during this time period. The ones that got in settled in large urban areas, such as New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit. This wave shifted the Ukrainian American life from the rural areas to the major cities. 

The third wave of immigrants from Ukraine to the United States took place after Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act in 1948. This piece of legislation permitted hundreds of thousands of refugees from eastern Europe to immigrate into the US. Ukrainians that were fleeing religious and political persecution from USSR arrived in the US and settled in the major cities of the Atlantic seaboard and in the Midwest. 


Thursday, April 17, 2008

ukrainians in America

The first major immigration of Ukrainians to the United States probably occurred around 1870, but it is impossible to determine the exact number of immigrants because the United States did not record their nationality, only their country of origin. The initial migration occurred as a result of the abolishment of slavery in the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. The United States represented a new world with the hope of new jobs and escape from being limited to the poor working class. As soon as a substantial Ukrainian population was established in America they went to great lengths to ensure that they had a unified and organized community.

According the United States census of 1990, there were 750,000 individuals of Ukrainian descent living in America, but many people believe that the number today is closer to one, or even two million. Originally, the Ukrainian population was largely centered around major industrial cities, but today they are spread out all over the country. One of the largest single concentrations of Ukrainians living in the United States is now in the Chicago Metropolitan area, with close to 50,000 residents consider themselves to be of Ukrainian descent.

Originally the Ukrainian population in the Chicago Metropolitan area was mainly limited to West Town. Now there are significant concentrations in Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties. In the Chicago area there is the Ukrainian National Museum as well as the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. Chicago is often the site of many visits from touring groups from Ukraine, and new immigrants are making their homes their every day.

To learn more follow these links: