Anisa Mycak has been awake upward of 18 hours at a time since December, often glued to her computer as she watches events unfold in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian-American, Mycak has friends and relatives in the country and worries for their safety.
“One of the saddest things when I go back is that Maidan (the public square in Kiev, Ukraine) will always be associated with young people dying,” Mycak said. “It’s like going to the World Trade Center.”
With Ukraine on the front pages of newspapers throughout the world, Mycak recently found herself answering questions about the country’s crisis from her neighbors at The Shore condominium, where she has lived since 1986, after the condo’s annual meeting. One of her neighbors suggested that the topic would interest other Shore residents, so Mycak gave a talk March 4 to the community.
Mycak’s parents left Ukraine at the end of World War II and moved to Germany, where Mycak was born. The family moved to New York City, where she grew up, in 1949. Mycak holds a master’s degree in East Asian studies but spent most of her career freelancing for Ukrainian-American publications.
She first visited the country in 1969, when it was part of the Soviet Union. At the time, she said, stores had little more on their shelves than sardines and potatoes, but the country became westernized after it gained independence. She has traveled there frequently throughout her adult life and, a few years ago, spent six weeks in the city of Lviv perfecting her Ukrainian in a summer language course.
Since December, when protests began in Kiev, Mycak’s loved ones have lived on edge, although she believes that the situation has calmed somewhat over the last week due to global condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea.
“I think there’s a little bit of a feeling that maybe things are getting stabilized, but no one is complacent because everyone worries that Russia could interfere in elections in May,” Mycak said.
Although she worries about how the crisis will unfold, she is proud of Ukrainians who have stood in the frigid temperatures to protest day after day for more than three months.
“They’ve been incredibly brave,” she said. “I’m just so impressed. I thought I knew Ukrainians well, but I’m just astounded by their bravery.”
Thousands of messages of support have poured in from around the world that have been displayed on a giant screen in Maidan. After Mycak’s talk last week, Shore residents made a Longboat Key sign and held it up next to a Ukrainian flag for a photo-op. Mycak plans to submit the photograph to be displayed in Kiev’s Maidan.
“When they show all the cities that have had people talking about or cheering on the Ukrainian people, they’ll see that Longboat Key was one of them,” she said.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]