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Born to a usual Ukrainian family of an Electronic Engineer and Financial Analyst, she was raised in Ukraine. A teacher and lawyer, Svitlana continued her education in U.S. rediscovering her passion for acting. She fondly remembers her drama and choreography instructors from university's student theater and many amazing, talented people that continue inspiring her. Formerly a radio program host, Svitlana speaks excellent English with a very slight, pleasant accent that many people interpret as French. A rhythmic gymnast in the past, she loves dancing, arts and technology and enjoys teaching languages. Svitlana lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and visits Ukraine on vacations as often as she can.
Favorite City: Kyiv, Ukraine
Favorite Movie: "Здравствуйте, я ваша тетя" (translated as Hello, I Am Your Auntie) - Amazong Prime might have this comedy with English subtitles, among many others
Favorite Actor: Andrey Mironov
Interesting Fact 1: A brother of Svitlana's great-grandmother immigrated to the United States about the age of twenty and settled in San Francisco, California with his Californian wife. He kept in touch very closely with the rest of his family in Ukraine. State officials were restless trying to figure why this guy kept sending almost weekly letters to an otherwise ordinary, small Ukrainian town for about forty years until he passed away. Most letters were arriving with some paragraphs blacked out in ink, partly or entirely. Shortly after receiving a letter, the family members in Ukraine would be requested to show up in a state office for questioning each and every time. The questions asked were always the same, such as who was this person in San Francisco, how was he related, why was he writing and what was he writing about. Some or most of Ukrainian letters written to him did not make it as he mentioned. But, he continued writing about his daily life and anything that worried him, anyway. Being concerned with whether the family was receiving his mailings, he gave his very last letter to the Russian Astronaut Titov (a big gratitude to him!) during a space conference in California who mailed the envelope to Ukraine directly from Moscow. Such an unusual dedication to loved ones was undeniably supported by people around. Many families in Ukraine and around the globe that were separated by wars or other circumstances will probably recognize themselves in this incredible story.
Interesting Fact 2: Svitlana might have been the very first Ukrainian ever that received her Hawaii State ID at the end of 90s. On a day of issuing her ID card, Ukraine was missing from a list of countries in the state office records and she was asked to carefully spell the country name to enter it into the state computers for the first time. Svitlana might have been the one of very first people ever that were approved to enter Hawaii directly on a visa after extremely thorough background checks and even medical exams. Before the end of 90s, Ukrainians were able to enter Hawaii from other states only. For quite some time after the end of cold war, no Ukrainians or Russians could come straight to Hawaii for family visits or as tourists because of military bases and respective security policies.
The same restriction might have been in place for most other nationals and white Americans as well considering that the only white people in Hawaii for the most part were from U.S. military families stationed in Hawaii if we look back into 60s and 70s, for example. Such was the case with Svitlana's husband and his military family stationed here that decided to stay. It was a little later when Caucasians started settling in Hawaii for good. Perhaps, the breaking point was around 1975 with the very last passenger boat to Hawaii, before airplanes started flying to the islands. It might explain rather questionable attitude towards white people from some locals in Hawaii or from their visiting female family members from overseas. Let's explain this point.
If other states claim that Spanish or African American people, to name a few, belong to a minority, Hawaii can claim that its white population is certainly a minority to this day. It's a sort of endless, useless struggle as to who owns the islands, in a way. Most interestingly, Hawaiians by ethnicity with exception of some teenagers are not interested in such a mental struggle and usually welcome everyone with an open heart and an open mind while some other nationals from other places could get very possessive of Hawaiian land and sun.
This rather striking tension is mostly noticed between females in Hawaii and might have little to do with ethnicity. Women are more possessive in general and have a particular difficulty handling a competition from other females without an urge to simply eliminate all competitors once and for all. It might be grounded in a lack of education, lack of culture, self-confidence or respectful traditions from ancestors and might eventually improve with age, maturity and life experiences.
Hawaii's female population is poor for the most part for many reasons including gender discrimination and inequality in pay as compared to males in same employment positions with the same education and work history, which is also true in many Asian and Polynesian countries that provide majority of immigrants to Hawaii. In U.S., a pay difference between men and women could be as much as 50% given that the only difference between them is gender. It's extremely wrong and unjust, especially for our modern century. It might have been true for many places a couple hundred years ago but it changed nearly everywhere at the beginning of last century. Such a tremendous inequality greatly reflects on a quality of life and a resulting behavior. When someone comes from European culture with an incredible confidence and sees how different it is for females in Hawaii that have never seen a better, more equal and more respectful society, it is shocking. One cannot compensate all that is lacking by a mere showing of attitude to each other. An immediate hostility towards others is a primal, somewhat animal quality that will never replace a sense of confidence or self-respect and will not make anyone's life better. For many women, their attitude is the only defense against the world as if they were surrounded by wild predators because their mothers, perhaps, never knew any better way to teach the girls how to survive.
Without a social change, nothing is likely to improve for local women in the near future. An equal pay provision as well as a guaranteed maternity leave should be written into American Constitution and into American laws. United States is one of very few countries that have zero days of guaranteed maternity leave during which a female's working place is guaranteed to still be there when she returns after giving birth to her child. If men could give birth or in other unusual circumstances, we would advocate to include them into this maternity / paternity leave provision as well. The number of male judges and male lawmakers prevails and makes it even more difficult for men to comprehend or feel remotely comfortable discussing this enormous social issue.
The unequal pay and lack of guaranteed maternity leave might have been mentioned by American courts and during most promising election campaigns but nothing has fundamentally changed. As we know, nearly all major changes in U. S. come from the courts. We need only one case that will reach the United States Supreme Court on appeal and will make a history changing lives for all women in America and letting them make a decent living. Allowing a female half of population to live in dignity is one of the very best ways to improve the economy. Mothers will be able to put food on a table, take care of their health, send their kids to school and even get education themselves. A healthy, happy and well educated mother will raise happy, healthy and educated kids that will back up country's future a million times over what they received. If we consider an old-school argument that every American woman needs to rely on a man to survive by a definition and it is a true reason behind a low pay, let's look at most other societies where men did not become extinct or unneeded only because women got equal pay rights or maternity leave. In fact, men are doing quite well in those societies. Even China has an equal pay policy for both men and women. U.S. cannot be so far behind in medieval age with all its advancements in many other areas but ignoring a human factor that is holding the society's present and future.
Despite all these contradictions, Hawaii is a melting pot of the Pacific and is one of the most unique places on Earth blending so many nations and cultures together in one place and forcing them to coexist peacefully. And yet, something has to be done to improve life for Hawaii's women, give them respect, confidence and education they deserve.
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