SZ column “Between Worlds”: Successful first reading – Munich

Last weekend I went to a reading of my columns for the Southgerman newspaper invited. Friends of mine, Peter Runck and Valentyna Sobetska, organized the event in Ludwigshafen in Rhineland-Palatinate. The invitation came as a great surprise to me, because readings are not common in Ukraine. But I thought it might be interesting not only to give people my thoughts in writing, but also to talk about them.

Peter and Valentyna are involved with the International Building Order, a non-profit organization that is widespread in many European countries and that organizes construction camps for young adults throughout Europe and thus supports social and non-profit organizations with building and renovation work. Since February 2022 Peter, Valentina and their friends are also active in Ukraine.

The title of the reading was “My heart always wears Vyshyvanka”, like one of my SZ columns in which I wrote about our national costume. Of course, I read this column and said that being Ukrainian and representing Ukraine is extremely important to me, even though I left my national costume at home. Ukrainian culture is always in my heart.

But the first text of my reading was about my flight to Munich. It was about the feelings I had at the beginning of the war, how I got to Pullach and who helped me. The second text was about the Oktoberfest and my doubts about whether I’m allowed to celebrate when my country is at war.

Another column, Emotional Roller Coaster, was about the inner conflict I often have when good and horror mix. On the one hand there is the joy of the liberation of Cherson or the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 for my colleague Oleksandra Matviychuk. On the other hand, rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities keep killing people.

The audience was very pleasant. Many help Ukrainians on a voluntary basis. I also noticed that they are interested in what is happening in Ukraine outside of the headlines. But the guests also had many questions, for example about President Selensky or corruption in Ukraine. I reported that while I did not vote for Selensky, I am now very proud of my President. As for corruption in Ukraine, it’s still a real problem, even though the situation has improved significantly.

There were also questions about the origin of my column, such as whether I write in German or in Ukrainian. The answer is simple: I write in German and constantly try to improve it so that my editor has less work to do. Some also wanted to know how it came about that I can write for the SZ. I said it had to do with my volunteer work with Ukrainian refugees at the beginning of the war. This resulted in contact with the editors.

Emiliia Dieniezhna, 34, fled from Kyiv to Pullach near Munich with her four-year-old daughter Ewa. From there she works on a voluntary basis for the non-governmental organization NAKO, whose aim is to fight corruption in Ukraine. She also teaches German to Ukrainian refugee children. Once a week she writes a column for the SZ about her view from Munich on the events in her home country.

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