It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's So Your Character is from Qatar ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!
What I mostly know about Ukraine is the location, that they've been at odds with Russia, and the food. I'm a big fan of pierogies, borscht, and blintzes. They're some of my comfort food. I'm so happy to have Valery on the blog to tell us more about this country!
Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.
(None of the Images are Mine)
My name is Valery. I'm young Ukrainian girl with creative mind and bright ideas about now and future life. I live in Kharkiv – the city in the East of Ukraine. I have a master degree in journalism. But my old hobby of fashion design carried me away from my profession. As many girls all around the World I like to try on new cosmetics. That cosmetic passion lead me to start my own beauty blog in 2011.
What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Ukraine is unique country. Despite its small territory (Ukraine is much smaller than USA, Russia, or China, but bigger than France, Spain, Greece), my country has wonderful and varied nature, culture, even dialects. Due to the history, Ukraine with its capital city Kiev originates back to the ninth century. Different nations came into this territory since that time. Every nation has left their cultural heritage: Russian language on the East and South, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian language on the West, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism. There are no similar regions in Ukraine. Every region, city or village has their own charm. Ukraine is a territory where historical places and traditions naturally combine with the modern life.
Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
I live in a country that has different type of climate and terrain. In the south, Ukraine has huge sea territory. Every spring and summer I have a fancy for coming to the seaside – to have wonderful time on the beach. Autumn is a great time to visit romantic historical castles and have a good time on the West part of Ukraine. Paved streets, old elegant houses, the scent of coffee make our time special. Winter is an excellent time for skiing and snowboarding on the Carpathian Mountains on the West of Ukraine. So every part of my country is passing to the certain season.
Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
As I told earlier, Ukraine is multicultural country. That feature is concerning national food too. We have some common national dishes: Borcht, Vareniki, Galushki, Banush. I don't think that names says too much for you. The only way to know something about national food is to taste it. Despite the variety of national food, we don't eat that meal every day (many national dishes need several hours for cooking). Many Ukrainians prefer cold soup named Okroshka. This soup contains sliced cucumbers, boiled eggs, boiled meat, boiled potato, souse and water. The specific of that soup reguires only cold cooking and eating
(just from fridge).
Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
Ukrainians used many idioms in their every day speech, that makes a huge complexity for foreigners for understanding. My most used idiom is “this is where the dog is buried” that has English version like “so that`s the crux (the heart) of the matter." It sounds a little weird, yeah?
Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
I don't think, that I can surprise you answering that question. As many people every Ukrainian wakes up early in the morning (about 7-8 a.m.). After quick breakfast and morning routine he or she is going to work (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m). In the evening Ukrainian people choose different hobbies: sport, art, meeting with friends, cinema, theatre, or just going home and having time with a family. I should say that family is a significant part of Ukrainian culture. We love our families and trying to do all our best for them. Ukrainian mothers always have time for their children and take care of them with a great pleasure.
How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Politics is the most complicated question of Ukrainian being. The point is the political course of our government is changing too fast and too dramatically. That changes coses crisis – political, mental, economical, social. But Ukrainian people is quite tolerant for all countries and all nations. My blog audience is not only Ukrainian – also Russian, Polish, Romanian... even Brazilian.
Briefly describe three historical events of your country’s you feel are important.
The Declaration of Independence, The Orange Revolution, and first brilliant game of Ukrainian football team in FIFA World Cup in 2006. Since that time different countries all around the World started to hear about Ukraine and our talented nation.
What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
The sphere of media doesn't touch my country too much. The only thing I can remember – military conflict in the East of Ukraine, that was shown on news channels two years ago.
I don't know much about stereotypes about Ukraine. Maybe the stereotype is that Ukraine is too poor country with crisis and poor people with no Internet.... I heard that idea once. But I should say: despite our bad financial climate we are very bouncy and resourceful people! When designer clothes start to cost too much – we take a fabric and a sewing machine and make our own collections. Our last financial crisis revealed many talented fashion designers, natural cosmetic brands, private handmade soap factories.
What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
I don't remember significant mentions about Ukraine in books, movies or TV shows. Ukraine is not a well-known country at the moment.
Who are your top three favorite characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
My first favorite character is a real woman named Roksolana. Her life was stated in a book of Ukrainian author Pavlo Zagrebelnyi Roksolana. This story is about brave Ukrainian girl, who lived in the 16-th century. After the Turkish invasion on the Ukrainian territory, she was captured and become a wife of Turkish Sultan. She helped many Ukrainian prisoners to return and changed political plans of Turkish army about devastation of Ukraine.
The second character is absolutely mystical person. Her name is Mavka. Historically and culturally slavonic people named Mavka some mystical creations that live in the forest. The tradition says that Mavka is looking like young nude girl with a long beautiful hair. It looks like a Ukrainian variant of Greek Nymph. Mavkas help people who are lost in a deep forest. This character also reveal itself on the pages of the book The Forest Poem.
My most favorite character native to Ukraine is also a mythical person – Mermaid. In Ukrainian tradition Mermaids live in every lake, river or even the sea. They are looking like beautiful fatal woman, that decoy men into a deep water by their delightful songs and speech. Every year by Ukrainian tradition in midsummer we have a charming night – Ivana Kupala. Our ancestry believed that night is special – every girl could know about her future marriage by throwing her wreath into the river. If the wreath is floating away – this girl would get married soon, if it goes to a coast – this year the girl wil not marry. This night is also a huge party for a Mermaids, who are waiting for a men to drag them into their kingdom.
Thank you, Valery, for this very informative post! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Come back next week for So Your Character is from Bulgaria ...!
Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Spain, Denmark, Kenya, Argentina, Iraq, and Egypt.
Do you have any characters from Ukraine? Did this inspire you to write a Ukrainian character or set a book in Ukraine? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Valery? Be sure to thank her!
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