Sarah Stultz: Would I have been able to walk in their shoes?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

Last week I had the opportunity to interview two couples from Ukraine who have lived in Albert Lea since September.

Since Ukrainians began seeking refuge in this country when the Russians invaded their country last year, I had hoped we would be able to connect with a few who were staying in our own area.

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Being in Albert Lea for many years now, I know we have a giving community, and I wanted to see what we could do to help.

Though I wasn’t able to get an interview right away after these individuals moved here, I was pleased when I ran into Leonid Skorin a few weeks ago, who was the first generation of his family to be born in the United States after his parents emigrated from Ukraine to the U.S. in the 1950s. He had been in contact with a few of the Ukrainian families who live in Albert Lea and was trying to put in a word for me about doing a story. He even volunteered to be a translator for the interview.

I was pleased when all the pieces came together, and the families agreed to an interview, though I was a little nervous about the language barrier.

The day of the interview I was greeted with warm smiles and kindness as we spoke in one of their apartments about what they experienced.

I have not been to Ukraine before and have not been through the hardships that they endured, but I felt connected to them and am grateful they agreed to share their stories.

These people had been through so much in the past 16 months — more so than some may even experience in a lifetime.

I thought several times during the interview and as I was writing the article about what it would have been like if I were in their shoes? I am in awe of what they experienced and with how they continue about their lives despite having to leave their country and even knowing that they had to leave family behind.

I hope the article did some justice in explaining just a portion of what they’ve experienced — and what the thousands of people still in their country continue to endure as the war stretches on.

They experienced atrocities no one should ever have to face.

I hope this country can continue to be a safe space for them as long as they need, and I hope Albert Leans can continue to support them as long as they are here.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.