“I was born and raised in Kharkiv, in Eastern Ukraine, but left home when I was 15 to study in Kyiv. My parents’ friends suggested I lived with them during my studies so it would be easier for me. It was hard for my parents to let go. When I entered high school, I found it very challenging. Up to that point I had only been speaking Russian in Eastern Ukraine and only learned Ukrainian in school as a second language. My classmates saw me as a stranger who was only studying and lacking a social life. By the second year, I started being part of the drama club which brought me closer to my schoolmates.
Before I went to law school, I started volunteering for a human rights organization which was a very different sphere to me. After I graduated from school, I moved from printing to translating to participating in trainings, until I became a consultant for the organization’s hotline. I would consult people on safe migration, trafficking risks and more. This was when I decided to switch to human rights instead of pursuing commercial law.
In 2013 I realized that I was stuck in a rut. I had reached my peak in the organization and there was no more room for growth, and that is when I got offered a position in Thailand. My father was very against it since he wanted me to pursue my PhD and thought that if I moved, I would never have a family. At that time, there were a lot of political shifts happening in Ukraine so my father changed his mind and gave me his blessing to move abroad. When I left, I didn’t even know if I could ever work in human rights again in Ukraine.
I am Ukrainian, but I am a citizen of the world. Home is wherever I feel comfortable and what makes me feel this way are the people around me, people with whom you can share your joy and sadness. What I do miss though is the physical aspects, like being able to hug my parents. However, I don’t see myself settling in Ukraine any time soon. I have a big sense of justice so I would be constantly struggling with the politics there if I ever wanted to work back home again.
When I was working over 10 hours a day in Ukraine, I kept thinking that my one true goal in life was to serve and enhance society. Since I arrived in Thailand, I have definitely reached the conclusion that having a career shouldn’t prevent women from starting a family. I think one of the things that changed when I moved here was realizing what I want."