Young at heart!
Pavlo Khomiuk from Kyiv, a participant of the first intergenerational dialogue ‘Memories of the Totalitarian Past: Youth Meets Political Prisoners’ held within the ‘Future needs memories: Ukrainian dialogue on history and memories’ project in November 23 in Lviv, shares his impressions of the meeting.
On my way to Lviv by train I tried to imagine how informative the meeting would be, the people I was going to meet, and things they would tell us, those who went through so much, who saw laughter and tears, those who created Ukraine. I did not expect that they would understand me, because my experience is almost nothing next to theirs, but I was wrong.
I came up to the First Lviv Mediateka thinking that from that time on I would need to concentrate on what was being said and get rid of thoughts going through my head. . I saw one of All my fears disappeared when we were split into groups and asked to share stories from the lives of our family members.
Everyone had a story to tell. Someone’s family has suffered a sad fate, some spent their early years living under the Soviet totalitarian rule, while others struggled to survive in a Nazi concentration camp.
Mr. Stefan was in my group. He has impressed me from the start of our communication. I could see optimism instead of sadness in his eyes. Strange as it may sound, but his funny stories about the imprisonment in the camp inspired me. Mr. Stefan went through several forced labour camps and participated in the Norilsk uprising. However, he found the strength to go carry on despite the fact that he spent several years of his life in some of the most dangerous places in the world. He told us that he dislikes being pessimistic and believes that it is important to find something positive about everything. For example, he said that if it were not for the camp experience, he would not have lived to the age of 87because camp porridge and water had made him fit and strong.
I also communicated with Mrs. Yaroslava. I could see that she still remembered the horrors she went through 50 years ago. The way she was treated cannot be called human, but she keeps looking to the future with faith. After the meeting I talked to her again and we exchanged our contact details in order to meet again next time I come to Lviv.
Everyone was young at heart.Stefan, for example, is very young. I could see no hint of old age in him. There are 20-years-old who seem old, although it does not always make them wiser. Whilst his optimism and communication style impressed me a lot. I could see that that these people do not need pity. They went through the horrors and stayed alive and young at heart. I felt their spiritual strength and it inspired me greatly.
dialogue participant from Kyiv, Ukraine
Translation by Halyna Stasevych