Located in the heart of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, St. Nicholas Cathedral has been a community center for as long as it has been a school. Built at the end of World War II by Ukrainian immigrants determined to pass down their culture, the school has always had a strong hold on the hearts of those tied to their mother country.
This is because both countries, as well as Belarus, claim the Medieval principality known as Kyivian Rus as their cultural heritage. This commonality has worked to foster both cooperation and conflict between these two neighbors, and in certain areas, has created an ambiguity that seems to blur the lines separating the two.
In the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to have an opportunity to examine my Ukrainian identity, and really discover my identity as an American while at it. I do realize that being descended two generations from second-wave immigrants, I am one of only a handful of my demographic who have held on to their culture, scores of which only hold on to their heritage by going to ‘babcha’s’ cute house on Christmas eve with her funny little ‘old country’ ways.