Mariia Semenchenko


Documenting Ukraine Grants

A Collection of Literary Reportages on How the Russo-Ukrainian War Has Changed Relations between Poles and Ukrainians

In my project––a collection of literary reportages––I would like to focus on the experiences of those who had to leave Ukraine to escape war, as well as those who were welcomed and helped in a new country. Through human experiences I want to trace changes in coexistence of two nations––Ukrainians and Poles. For many years, the historic past between Ukrainian and Polish people was a barrier that separated and denied any possibility of dialogue. Events that happened in the past provoked hatred in the present, and not without Russian influence and inflammation of sensitivies on both sides of the narrative. 
When Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the support of Poland was truly impressive, especially from ordinary Poles who helped with everything from accommodation and work to providing books and films in the Ukrainian language. In my collection of literary reportages, I want to examine how the experience of full-scale war in Ukraine helped bring together Ukrainians and Poles and granted an opportunity for dialogue: we ended up on the same side of the barricades, with common heroes and fears, and now we can understand each other better. I want to know which Poles decided to help Ukrainians and why, how over the year their perception of Ukrainians has changed, what have they learned about Ukrainians after being able to communicate with them in daily life; equally, I aim to discover what Ukrainians have found in Poland and what they are grateful for, and how in this context––this proximity in stressful conditions––both sides avoided/did not avoid sensitive topics. 
I want to talk about rapprochement, forgiveness, mutual help and empathy. And also about other words and other language we can use to talk about historic tragedies, as there is no better time to restart this painful dialogue than now. 

Grant on behalf of: