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.
    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.

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora