Interview with a former refugee, Karina Szczurek

LitNet: You were a refugee, fleeing from an oppressive regime. Please share with us what those thousands of women and children who are now seeking refuge must feel like?

Karina Szczurek: I was a child when my parents decided to flee Poland in the 1980s. My brother was six and I was ten at the time. It was very difficult to comprehend what was happening to us, but at least we were secure in the knowledge that our parents were with us at all times and would take care of us, no matter what. Our lives were never in danger. Watching Ukrainian parents evacuate their children to safety while staying behind to fight for their future breaks my heart. I cannot imagine the levels of anxiety and distress this kind of separation causes for a family. These people will never fully recover from this, even if they survive.

LitNet: Do you know Ukraine at all?

Karina Szczurek: A little bit. I spent three weeks in the beautiful Lviv on a student exchange in 1997. We also travelled outside this historic city. It was a formative experience. During these three weeks, I experienced for the first time the real closeness of the two languages – Polish and Ukrainian – met Charlotte, who remains a very dear friend, and discovered my love for opera and ballet at the stunning Ivan Franko Lviv State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (renamed since then). I specifically remember how friendly and welcoming everyone I met there was, and I will never forget their delicious black bread (I couldn’t get enough of it).

Continue reading: LitNet

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