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177 Nations of Tasmania podcast - Episode 33 - Comparing with Ukraine

Tasmania has received many Ukrainian migrants since the large migrations began just over 70 years ago. Many were displaced people as a result of the Second World War. But for the last few decades this community has grown smaller and older, though there are plenty of Tasmanians who claim Ukrainian heritage.

So far, most of the people I've talked to from Eastern European countries have been on the older side, so it was great to have the opportunity to interview someone who's arrived here quite recently from the Ukraine to offer a more contemporary perspective, particulary given the eventful recent history of the country.

It was interesting to hear a bit about Darya's own personal experiences and observations of this particularly difficult period of the Ukraine's history, albeit as a child, in the 1990s in the period immediately after independence when the economy contracted 60% from 1991 to 1999, and hardship and criminality increased.

I lived and worked for a time in Russia in mid 2000s, which was a real boom time, and it seems it was the same for the Ukraine. Darya speaks of a feeling of optimism in her high school years as the country started to emerge out of its dark period with hopeful signs ahead. I found from my own experiences, that here in Australia we tend to have quite outdated images of countries like Russia and Ukraine, imagining them to be more dangerous and grim than the perhaps are.

On the other hand, it has to be said that since that era of economic growth in the 2000s, Ukraine has suffered some dramatic negative events - global financial crisis in 2009, corruption scandals, outbreak of war in 2014 and ongoing tensions with Russia over Crimea....and then the elected a comedian to be their President.

Ukraine has a complicated history, with its parts of its current territory belonging at various time to Russia, Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Duchy of Lithuania. Ukrainians themselves, like the Poles, have been a major migrating people, with big communities settling in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand over the years.

As with other interviews I've done, it's been interesting to explore how peoples' character and perspectives are shaped by the environment and cultural millieau that they grow up in, both in regards to the wider societal influences as well as things like the family environment.


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