Dissimilar Similarities

written by Tetyana Simchuk from Ukraine

When I first got to know that my fellowship would take place in Hawai‘i, I not only got very excited by this unbelievable opportunity, but also thought that the islands would be something TOTALLY different from whatever someone may imagine about the mainland USA. To some extent, this appeared to be absolutely true… However, on the other sides, lots of things, events, and, what’s even more important, PEOPLE demonstrated how similar Hawai‘i is to what I’m used to in Ukraine.

Common issues, common views on political events and figures, common approaches to reporting… and different attitudes, different perspectives, different methods of arranging workspace driven by transparency and openness…

My first week started in Representative Lauren Matsumoto’s Office, Hawai‘i State Legislature, and frankly speaking, after seeing the sessions of the House of Representatives, I realized that politics is absolutely the same everywhere. The parties fight over bills, ensure alliances in private talks, and very often act like their image is more important than the benefit of the people. Nevertheless, on the contrary to Ukrainian practice, in the long run, at the closing of the session, the opposing members of the House expressed deep gratitude to each other for the common work. Furthermore, the House and Senate closed their session by joining hands in a circle of unity and singing “Hawaiʻi Aloha,” also called “Kuʻu One Hanau,” which is a revered anthem of the native Hawaiian people and Hawaiʻi residents alike.

Thus, being inspired by the amazing person whom we have got to meet here in Hawai‘i – Maya Soetoro-Ng, the maternal half-sister of the 44th United States President Barack Obama, I would like to summarize the first week of my fellowship with the quotation of the John Hume, 1998 Nobel Peace Prize Winner:

“Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”

Aloha to all of you!

Tetyana Simchuk Hawaii CapitolTetyana Simchuk with Colleagues

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