Despite War in Ukraine, Whitney Point teacher finds way to keep culture and heritage close on International Holiday

“It symbolizes peace, it symbolizes beauty, and hope for our culture now...”
English Teacher, Christina Charuk holds a traditional 'Vyshyvanka' or embroidered piece of...
English Teacher, Christina Charuk holds a traditional 'Vyshyvanka' or embroidered piece of Ukrainian clothing.(WBNG 12 News)
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:59 PM EDT
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WHITNEY POINT (WBNG) -- Christina Charuck is an English teacher with the Whitney Point School District, but she is also a first-generation immigrant from Ukraine.

Charuk says Vyshyvanka Day, an international holiday, celebrates the history, heritage, art and culture of the people of Ukraine, specifically through their traditional clothing.

“(My vyshyvanka) is from the northwest reason of Ukraine traditionally it would’ve been red and black or a blue and red kind of geometric patterns that were very simplistic from the ancient times,” said Charuk. “They all symbolize different things, the geometry symbolizes different things ranging from the goddess, because this is woman’s work we had a lot of blessings from the goddesses, and we incorporated that into the work.”

Charuk’s family immigrated to Johnson City from Ukraine after WWII. They settled alongside the ever-growing Ukrainian population at the time. She said she enjoys sharing her family history, and culture with her students when the opportunity presents itself.

“I think it’s super special,” she said. “I think that anytime somebody from a different culture gets to showcase that and highlight it, it speaks to the greatness of our country here, it’s peace, and to the beauty of the culture that they come from. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from my students just asking me about it (vyshyvanka) and asking about the day, and I’ve been really happy to share that.”

In a time like this, Charuk said celebrating holidays can symbolize strength as well as showcasing the beauty her culture has to offer.

“We talk a lot about current events, I teach English but it is very closely connected with the social studies department. They (students) want to see goodness, they like to see the positive side of things and not everything that is just war and the sadness that is coming out of the country right now so it’s been very special and it’s been very positive and uplifting for me just as a person of Ukrainian community to get that kind of support I’m just to the American community here in Broome County” she said.