News / USA

Old World Attitudes Reflected in New Ukrainian-American Communities

Old World Attitudes Reflected in New Ukrainian-American Communitiesi
X
Kane Farabaugh
March 12, 2014 11:37 PM
Unrest in Ukraine has brought attention to the different Ukrainian-American communities around the U.S. One of the largest, in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania, is comprised of new immigrants and descendants of those who came to America in the last century. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

VIDEO: Tension, turmoil more than 8,000 kilometers away is impacting lives of diaspora community in western Pennsylvania.

Kane Farabaugh
Recent unrest in Ukraine has brought more attention to the different Ukrainian-American communities throughout the United States. One of the largest, in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania, is made up of both new immigrants and descendants of those who made a new life in America during the last century. Though the unrest in their home country is 8,000 kilometers away, the tension and turmoil are affecting their lives and relationships in their local communities.

The Ukrainian-American community in western Pennsylvania is steeped in tradition and closely connected to their home country.

The Reverend Timothy Thomson leads the congregation at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks. He said about 10,000 to 15,000 immigrants came to the area in the 1990s after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“They could probably trace about 100,000 people in western Pennsylvania who have some Ukrainian heritage, identity,” he said. “They came here for jobs, plus churches were sponsoring them when the Soviet Union first collapsed when Ukraine declared its independence.”

Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Reverend Steve Repa is the leader of St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. Repa, a second-generation Ukrainian-American, said old world resentments between Ukrainians and Russians are still present in some parts of their new communities. "You have the whole experience of what it is to be Ukrainian in America. We grew up as first generations with a lot of prejudice. They [Russians] brought in Communism. They brought in death. They killed a lot of people. They absorbed our history and made it their own.”

He said time has helped some of that prejudice fade. So has proximity - his Ukrainian Orthodox church stands right next to the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church, and members of the two churches routinely interact.

“They’re not Russians like technically we’re not Ukrainians. We’re of Ukrainian extraction, but we’re Americans," said Repa. "They’re Americans of Russian descent. They have no connection to Putin or what he does or what they want him to do. And yet what he does will reflect on them.”

Father Timothy’s church in McKees Rocks stands in the shadow of the grey onion domes of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church a block away. He said the block that separates them is about as close as their two communities get.

“There’s not a lot of interaction between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches simply because of the fact that when our grandparents founded these churches they knew they were Ukrainian and not Russian, and so they chose to not be part of those Russian Orthodox churches,” he said.

Political divide

Father Timothy, whose wife is from Ukraine, said that regardless of when they left, most Ukrainian Americans have a close connection to their home country, and the Russian military intervention there has deepened the historic divide. “I wouldn’t walk across the street to say hello to them right now, I mean if I’m around them I’m going to be cordial and respectful, and I’m sure they will be the same,” he said.

VOA reached out to members of the Russian Orthodox community, but they declined to be interviewed. But Father Timothy pointed out their differences usually end at the church doors.

“It’s political. We all commune from the same chalice,” he said.

It’s that common ground the Ukrainian-American community looks for as they pray for peace, and continued independence, for all parts of their home country.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Patnj from: New Jersey
March 13, 2014 12:14 PM
I am second generation American/Ukrainian on my father's side. I would cringe when growing up being referred to as "Russian" especially around Jan. 7th Christmas. A lot of people were/still are not educated that Russians and Ukrainians are different. I do feel bad for Ukraine, but, my grandfather's family stayed in their village and that village is in Poland. Yes Ukrainian blood flows through our veins...but as grandma said, this is your country...America.


by: Artur from: Kiev
March 13, 2014 9:39 AM
I am Ukrainian and I love USA!!!!


by: jaroslav chorny from: vancouver, canada
March 12, 2014 11:39 PM
Shame on you Fathers,
After viewing your interviews on VOA, I have to tell you Father Steve Repa that you are technically AMERICAN by passport, but you always would be Ukrainian by blood and if you don't understand this and feel like this than I am wondering what you doing in church and what can you teach your parishioners.
And for you Father Timothy Thomson for offering your moral support to Ukrainians but voting not to send American troops. I don't think that Ukrainians are in need of your moral support. They need now reel support from America. The support that you Americans promised in 1994 in Budapest.
Looking on you both on the video, you have a very good life in America, but remember that you have to thank to Ukrainian parishioners for this.

Shame on your.
Pray for your sins.
Good Bless You.
Slava Ukraini
Jaroslav Chorny

In Response

by: Larry from: Fairfax, VA
March 13, 2014 10:06 AM
By your comment the media got just what it wanted.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid