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excerpt from the Interview with BAZIUK, MARTA

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Date and Place of Birth:  Oct 29,1960, Hackensack, N.J. U.S.A.  
Date of Interview: Dec. 20, 2019
Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Length of Interview: 33 minutes
Interviewer: Tetyana Bozhahora
Language: English


Interviewer:  As a child and a teenager, what language did you speak at home ?

Marta: English.

Interviewer:  How did you learn Ukrainian ?

Marta: I was actually working for the Ukrainian Studies Fund that was located at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard and at that point I was getting a larger and larger circle of Ukrainian Friends and, in some cases, people would switch to English when I came in. They may not have liked it and I didn't like it and then there was an opportunity. The Soviet Union was getting to the last gasps but I applied to go on a language study fellowship to Ukraine, which actually my father nearly didn’t speak to me because the only way to go at that point was through this organization Tovarystvo Ukrainy* which was like a communist organization…. But then when I got to Ukraine …the  Soviet Union was falling apart and they really didn’t have any program for me in Lviv. They basically stuck me in a dorm, a hurtozhytok** and said, fend for yourself. So, I knew a professor at Lviv University, through my work at Harvard…. And he said Why don’t you go to the Faculty, the Slavic Languages, maybe you can organize some exchange. So I went there, there was a talented young student, (so my joke is always that  I’m a better  teacher  than he is). [He became] my husband. So I would give him English lessons, he would give me Ukrainian lessons.

Before that I took a summer school course,  an eight week intensive at Harvard Summer school and those are really intensive, you meet every day for hours.

Interviewer: Do you think that your father influenced your Ukrainian identity?

Marta: There’s no doubt that I knew it was important to him but maybe what resonated with me and probably with my mother too - she wasn't Ukrainian but she was always very supportive of his interests, there was this issue of fairness and justice, maybe that's where their traditions intersected. My mom is a very decent , honest person and she thought it was so unfair, unjust, Ukraine’s fate, and so she was very supportive. We, as a family were always going to (New Jersey Art Center would have a festival) to concerts and those kinds of things. And there’s a resort,  Soyuzivka, in upstate New York where we would go for summer camps and winter holidays, we would go pretty much every year.

It wasn’t just going to  cultural concerts, that kind of thing, but demonstrations, Free Moroz, … there were dissidents … or fund raising for the Chair at Harvard, knowing that these things he considered important.

Interviewer: So at the moment, how close do you feel to the Ukrainian Canadian community?

Marta: Very, Very close, and having lived in New York and Boston, the vibrancy of the Toronto community is, I don’t think there is anything like it anywhere. Any given week, you can’t go to all the Ukrainian related events. You can’t  even keep up between the business and the professionals, and the choirs, and the church organizations, and the academic organizations, every night there’s some activity going on.

Interviewer : What would you like to see different about the Ukrainian Canadian community, if anything?

Marta: We can do a better job at integrating newer immigrants and giving them a sense of belonging to the same traditions and institutions that already exist, … Wave after wave of people come along  and create their own institutions, but …make people know that we consider them part of the greater community.

* Ukrainian Communist Organization
** Student residence