A Ukrainian Sense of Belonging

Nikita ZinovievJune 6, 2022Who Am I?Interfaith Connections

Artwork by Dimitriy Uvchenko, age 16

There are so many countries all over the world and each of them has something unique. We all differ in language, culture, nationality, outlook, climate, territory, and so on. As for me, I belong to the Ukrainians.

Cultural identity refers to a person's sense of belonging to a particular culture or group. This process involves learning about customs and accepting traditions, heritage, language, religion, ancestry, aesthetics, thinking patterns, and social structures of a culture. The need to belong refers to a human emotional need to be accepted by members of a group. This may include the need to belong to a peer group at school, to be accepted by co-workers, to be part of an athletic or sports team, or to be a part of a religious group. A sense of belonging involves more than simply being acquainted with other people. It is centered on sharing interests and gaining acceptance, attention, and support from members of the group, along with providing the same attention to other members. Young people who share the same taste in clothing, music, and other interests might seek each other out to form friendships.

Ukrainians, as well as other nationalities, often present themselves in a particular way in order to belong to a specific social group. This need to belong also motivates us to participate in social activities such as clubs, sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations. By belonging to a group or an organization, our people feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.

There are a lot of features which unite Ukrainians into one nation. First, we possess a unique stylish collection of national clothes that still hasn’t lost its relevance. Almost every modern Ukrainian tries to decorate their garments with beautiful embroidery, carefully choosing the color and pattern, which represent a certain region.

Second, our people enjoy having their own field or garden on the most fertile land in the world. We often call our ground “golden soil.” We are really rich, because we can afford a bountiful harvest, the opportunity to live in unity with the world of lush useful vegetation, and enjoy our fruitful work on earth.

Third, Ukrainians are characterized as generous and welcoming hosts. Our guests are always amazed by our cooking skills. Ukrainians enjoy serving their guests with world-famous traditional dishes, such as tasty red borsch, dumplings with cottage cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, and cherries, potato pancakes, pickles, cabbage rolls, mlyntsi (thin pancakes), and fruit pies. If you are invited to visit a Ukrainian house, even just for "tea," you will definitely find a wide range of pastries and delicacies — pies, homemade cakes, candies, cookies, thin pancakes, and more. And what can I say about the holidays, when all close and distant relatives come from everywhere? Ukrainians believe that the more filling dishes decorate the table, the more pleasant and fun it will be to communicate with the whole family! It is true that our nation feeds everybody from the bottom of our hearts. It is even traditional to treat all guests with some food to bring back home.

As for me, I feel lucky to be born in Ukraine. My nation is quite unusual, friendly, generous, and peaceful. I enjoy following our customs and traditions, wearing our beautiful clothes, and eating our delicious food. These are the small but pleasant things which make me a Ukrainian.

Editor's Note: This article was written in February 2022, before the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Nikita Zinoviev is ai eighth grade at the Logos School in Kiev, Ukraine. He is interested in the IT sphere and enjoys writing code on his computer. He is also interested in playing football, reading science books, playing computer games, and cooking.