BARBORA (3rd year)
"We are from the grey zone, not in an oppressed way, but in a way that our experiences as Eastern Europeans do not match with the experiences of the 'Global North', because we were never part of the 'Global North’, but we don’t fully match with the experiences of the 'Global South' either. Our history, or at least our identity as Eastern Europeans, is very much built on what Russia did to us. What happened during the crisis in Ukraine brought this to the surface.
My country, my family, and my grandparents, perilously lived under the Soviet regime for 50 years, until we gained independence. My great-grandma was from a small village in Lithuania, and she grew up in a family of nine kids. She always talked about this beautiful garden of apple trees at her father’s house. But when Russian soldiers arrived, everything was taken away from them. They arrived and threw their muddy, bloody shoes on the table, all drunk and disrespectful, while my grandmother and her sisters were hiding in the cellar. My mom explained only later in life, to me what it implied when daughters had to hide in the cellar...
Those are the stories I grew up with. When I talk to people about what has happened to us, it always seems that they think it isn’t that bad. Even more so, some people relativise what is happening in Ukraine right now or sometimes even use terms like ‘those privileged Ukrainians’. And I believe that every time you make such a comparison, you must be aware of its implications; if your thoughts would materialise, you must realize what the implications would be for others.
Since we gained our independence, this is the narrative we’ve been telling the world. But we were not being listened to. Then the war broke out, but we are still not fully being listened to.
That’s why we are so vocal about it because we’ve already gone through it.”
(Barbora, 3rd year, Lithuania)