The Experience of the Maydan Revolution

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

I remember walking down Kreshatik Street on October 31 at 4:30 am, with a couple friends on each side, talking about the party we had just left. Suddenly, I spotted a group of students across the street, running, trying to escape from something. At first, I didn’t think much of the spectacle. A few seconds later, another group was running, but this time towards us. One of the running students stopped and, under his breath, muttered, “Get out. They are beating everybody. The Maydan Revolution is gone.” Startled, we didn’t know what to think. It shouldn’t be something serious. After all, we are in Ukraine! We’re one of the most carefree countries in the world, right? Indeed, there were some students protesting against the government, but what harm could they mean? We proceeded with our walk, until we reached the main square. Right in front of us, police battalions marched, patrolling every inch of the street. At this point, I realized that something unnatural had happened: the police had just finished the brutal clearance of the student protest camps.

Two days later, the students reorganized. However, this time, more people appeared. Thousands of residents poured onto the streets, roaring “Revolution!” It seemed that for each beaten-down student, a hundred others rose up. As blood was spilled, a war on the people was declared. For the first time in its modern history, Ukraine was about to have a revolution to test its conscience, its dignity.

On that day, I also showed up, desiring to see what was happening. At first, I sought a friend whose house was right on the edge of Kreshatik. When I arrived at the main street, the city looked surprisingly empty. As soon as I reached the turn to his house, though, I noticed an escalating commotion. Like thunder, voices yelling “Glory to Ukraine” emerged from around the corner. Drums were beating, flags were waving. An infinite mass, of all ages, of all classes, marched together to the occupied square. As soon as my friend arrived, both of us rushed through the backyards and reached the area near the square. There, we climbed up a hill, from which a striking view opened before us: the incoming mass had entered the square, scattering the remaining police. The crowds crushed the barricades, then advanced and formed wide flanks. There, in the middle of them, a titanic Ukrainian flag was rolled out. Thousands of voices shouted “Revolution!” thundering through the skies again and again.

After those two days, my mentality towards my nationality, my country, was entirely transformed. Never had I felt so much pride in being a Ukrainian. The sight of all those people, confronted by economical and political hardship yet proud of waving those blue and yellow colors, shivered through every point of my body. I was fortunate to witness an event on such a scale at only 17 years of age: even for older people, the experience of participating in this sort national unity is inconceivable. Fighting against all the evils in your country, fighting for what you believe is right and for a better future left an undying mark. It developed in me a real passion for dedicating myself to improving the lives of others, the lives of my fellow countrymen. But now, after the Maydan events have passed, Ukraine faces another set of crises. Military conflict and economical and political chaos drown this passion. The passion to thrive. The passion to grow. The passion to leave your land better off: we must fight for all this now.

I must say that Maydan transformed me, my whole perspective on the world. I’ve lived in Brazil, Pakistan, and Ukraine and often felt alienated from my own community even at home. But Maydan reversed this alienation. I felt Ukrainian again. Those events clarified the definition of freedom: the freedom of an individual to think, to choose and to act. It was this realization that led me into adulthood.

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