A Ukrainian Refugee's Journey to Find Hope | Stepan Onyshchuk | TEDxYouth@UWCDilijan | Summary and Q&A

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September 25, 2023
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A Ukrainian Refugee's Journey to Find Hope | Stepan Onyshchuk | TEDxYouth@UWCDilijan

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Summary

In this video, the speaker shares their personal experience as a Ukrainian refugee in Japan. They reflect on the challenges of leaving their home and culture behind, feeling isolated and invisible in a new country. However, they find solace and inspiration in an Italian bakery, which reminds them of their home and motivates them to share their story with others. Through their journey, they learn the power of resilience, creativity, and finding hope in the midst of chaos.

Questions & Answers

Q: What thoughts were going through the speaker's mind during the opera in Yerevan?

While the climax of the Verdes Opera resounded in Yerevan, the speaker's thoughts were focused on the abstract colors on the hall decorations. Their mind wandered to the invasion of Ukraine, the potential loss of culture, and their family preparing to leave.

Q: How does the speaker describe their responsibility towards Alina, a young refugee?

As the only Ukrainian in town, the speaker felt a great responsibility towards Alina, an eight-year-old refugee from Ukraine. They struggled during their walks together but tried to distract Alina from the chaos of the war by telling her funny stories.

Q: What realization did the speaker have when Alina asked about their plans after the school year ended?

When Alina asked about the speaker's future plans, the speaker suddenly realized that they themselves had become a refugee with nowhere to return. As one of the first officially accepted Ukrainian refugees in Japan, they faced a sense of displacement and uncertainty.

Q: How did the speaker's fascination with Japanese culture change over time in Japan?

Initially fascinated by Japanese culture, the speaker soon felt isolated and disconnected from their own culture and identity. They compared their feeling to wearing an invisibility cloak, where no one seemed to notice or understand them.

Q: What encounter in a tiny Italian bakery brought back memories and inspiration for the speaker?

While working in Tokyo, the speaker stumbled upon a small Italian bakery among traditional Japanese houses. Upon entering, they heard the climax of various Opera songs, which immediately transported them back to Yerevan. This experience sparked the idea of sharing their story and Alina's story to connect with others.

Q: How did the speaker go about sharing their story and Ukrainian culture with others in Japan?

Together with their host family, the speaker organized meetings with Japanese media and high school children to share their experiences and knowledge about Ukraine. They spoke about Ukrainian culture, cuisine, and the challenges faced by refugees, hoping to create understanding and empathy.

Q: What realization did the speaker have while surrounded by Japanese high school students in a small mountainous town?

While taking a group picture with Japanese high school kids in a mountainous town near Mount Fuji, the speaker realized that home is not defined by a physical or legal address but by the people who surround you. This realization brought a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Q: How does the speaker describe the profound changes in their life as a Ukrainian refugee?

The speaker reflects on how they could have never imagined the immense changes that awaited them as a refugee. Leaving everything behind, including friends, community, and family, was a daunting step into uncertainty. The destruction of an airport where they had fond childhood memories filled them with despair and a sense of absurdity.

Q: How did the speaker navigate the challenges of adjusting to their new home in Japan?

Initially caught between their familiar Ukrainian culture and the new Japanese culture, the speaker quickly learned that their new home could also inspire and offer new opportunities. They began learning the language, making new friends, and embracing the potential for a better life.

Q: What important message does the speaker want to share with others?

The speaker urges listeners to remember that even in the darkest moments of life, there is always a place for new beginnings and hope. They highlight the power of resilience, creativity, and finding courage in the face of chaos. No matter the struggles or displacement one may experience, there is always the potential to find a new sense of purpose and hope.

Takeaways

Through their personal journey as a Ukrainian refugee in Japan, the speaker reminds us of the strength and resilience within us to overcome challenges and find hope. They emphasize the importance of sharing our stories and experiences to foster understanding and empathy. The speaker's realization that home is not defined by a physical address but by the people who surround us serves as a powerful reminder that belonging and acceptance can be found in unexpected places. In the face of chaos and uncertainty, there is always an opportunity for new beginnings and a renewed sense of purpose.

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