The Polish Response to the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis with Rand Richards Cooper

May 19, 2022

Rand Richards Cooper discusses the Polish response to Ukrainian refugees on the International Horizons podcast.

On the top left is a magic hat and wand with the Ukrainian flag coming out of it, journalist Rand Richards Cooper appears on the lower right.

Some 12 million Ukrainians – a quarter of the population -- have been forced to flee their homes or their country as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Millions are concentrated in Poland as well as in other countries in the region: Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Finland, Germany and elsewhere. How are they faring as refugees?

Rand Richards Cooper, a journalist, editor and writer, talks to Ralph Bunche Institute Director and Graduate Center Presidential Professor John Torpey about his recent trip to visit Ukrainian refugees in Poland alongside magician Bill Herz. In addition to anecdotes from the magic shows and his interviews, Cooper describes the extraordinary Polish response to the refugee influx, the varied refugee experience, how the war has divided families, and the long shadow of World War Two.

International Horizons is part of the New Books Network of academic podcasts. Subscribe to the RSS feed or find it on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  A lightly edited transcript follows below.

Transcript:

John Torpey  00:13

Some 12 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes or their country as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Millions are concentrated in Poland and Romania as well as in other countries in the region: Hungary, Moldova, Finland, Germany and elsewhere. How are they faring as refugees?  

Welcome to International Horizons, a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, that brings scholarly and diplomatic expertise to bear on our understanding of a wide range of international issues. My name is John Torpey, and I'm Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. We're fortunate to have with us today Rand Richards Cooper, a journalist who recently traveled for two weeks through refugee gathering places in Poland with a magician, Bill Herz, who was entertaining the kids stuck in the limbo of refuge. Rand Cooper's writings have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He's a longtime reviewer for The New York Times Book Review, as well as a film critic and contributing editor for Commonweal. Rand Cooper has been Writer in Residence at Amherst College and at Emerson College. So thanks so much for being with us today, Rand Richards Cooper. 

Rand Cooper  01:37

My pleasure, John. Great to be with you. 

John Torpey  01:39

Great to have you. So, you have this kind of unusual story to tell about traveling through Poland with our magician friend, Bill Herz, visiting what I'm calling "refugee gathering places" because I don't think they're camps in the, perhaps, familiar style, and with the idea of chronicling what you saw. So tell us: what did you see? I mean, how accurate or inaccurate is it to talk about refugee camps or gathering places? What does it look like? 

Rand Cooper  02:14

Well, first of all, John, just a word about how this came about. It all happened somewhat impulsively, as you know, because I think you were present, we were in a Zoom meeting of a bunch of people whom we knew in college, and when the subject of Ukraine came up that, these are can do people who are who are used to being active and trying to help solve problems, and people thought, well, what can we possibly do to help? We had seen a video of actors who had gone into the subway and Kyiv dressed up as Spider Man and superheroes and entertained the kids who are hunkered down in the subway there. And when we saw that people thought, wow, the kids were laughing so hard, and we thought how simple that was, and how great. At which point Bill Herz, who has made his career as you know, as a magician, said, "Well, my family and I could could go over and do magic shows for the Ukrainian kids in Poland", and I somewhat impulsively said "okay, if you do that, I'll come along and write about it". So he did, and I did.  

We spent 12 days there in four of the biggest cities of Poland: Warsaw, Gdansk, Łódź, and Kraków. And you're right, these are not refugee camps because it's far from the border with Ukraine. But as you know, Ukrainians have been streaming into Poland ever since the war began in February, and through a massive effort by the Poles, an effort that has happened, somewhat higgledy piggledy, just because of the various entities that are involved, and the sheer numbers of people who've had to be helped. They have been -the Ukrainians have been- settled in every kind of imaginable situation. Some are staying with Polish families, some are staying in dormitory-like places, so the Herzs gave their shows, really, as we went from city to city and they did about 20 or 25 shows in 11 days, so it was pretty hectic schedule for them. The shows happen in every imaginable surrounding: crowded community centers, local libraries, there was one place in Warsaw where an abandoned office complex had been turned into an impromptu dormitory for Ukrainian families. And by the way, not really families; we almost never met a Ukrainian man. These are children and their moms. The law in Ukraine requires that all men between 18 and 60, unless they have a disability or have more than three children, need to stay in Ukraine and assist in one way or another with the war effort. So one fundamental reality for the people, Ukrainian people, who are in Poland is the reality of a fractured family. And all the many people I interviewed in these 10 days, almost none of them was a man. 

So there were big community centers where there were hundreds of people. We did two shows in orphanages (and I say we; I was just standing there watching and recording things). So the variety of places that Ukrainian kids and their moms have ended up bespeaks that the drastic and sudden nature of this, and the challenge that Polish organizers and civic authorities have had in trying to come up with resources, resources of all kinds. And we can talk about that. I mean, one of my takehomes from this trip is the astonishing nature of the effort that Poles are making on behalf of Ukrainians. And that's institutionally and economically, financially, just enormously challenging. It's also interesting in terms of history; there's a lot to be said there. 

John Torpey  06:09

Yes. Well, that is indeed interesting. And I did want to ask you about that. I mean, that's obviously very heartening to hear. But it wasn't so long ago that Ukrainians weren't necessarily the most widely loved population, I think, in Poland and other parts of Europe. And, you know, it's the poorest country of Europe -I mean, however you kind of define Europe exactly- and then all of a sudden, this calamity takes over the country and Poles rise to the moment, it seems. And it reminded me and perhaps you of the response of the Germans in 2015 to the mass influx of Syrians, Afghans, etc., and Angela Merkel's famous response that, "Wir schaffen das" we'll manage that, we'll handle that. So, is this Poland's 2015 moment?

Rand Cooper  07:09

Well, it is. There was a lot that I didn't know going in. And one basic thing was just the sheer size of this effort. I interviewed the Deputy Mayor of Gdynia, which is one of three cities in the north (Gdansk, Gdynia and one other) that make up a sort of tri-city area. And I, after there had been a show at a science center overrun with Polish and Ukrainian kids. And by the way, some of these shows were logistically complicated linguistically, especially if they were Polish and Ukrainian kids there together. So sometime, we had Bill and his daughter, Dana, who were the two chief magicians. His son Zach and his wife Gwen helped as support for the show. But so Bill and Dana would speak in English. And then we would have one interpreter interpreting in Polish and another interpreter interpreting in Ukrainian and occasionally Russian was done as well. So these were logistically complicated shows. And so you have to picture this big gleaming science center with hundreds of kids running around and finally settling in to see the magic show.  

And to finish off, to answer the remaining part of your question about this being the Poles' German moment, I kept looking for signs of backlash. Because again, I imagined like, you know, what would happen in this country, if we decided to provide all those services overnight for 35 million people, Poland is not a particularly wealthy country. And this is creating huge stresses, but I found almost -aside from like one taxi driver who said, "you can't even find an apartment in Warsaw now, because the Ukrainians have them. And some of these Ukrainians are rich, you know, but they just came here and take all the best flats" -was like three people who said something like that. Most of the Poles said something like, as soon as this started happening, we knew what we had to do. And it was the obvious thing to do. And I think it was the obvious thing to them.  

And by the way, the Herzs are just terrific magicians, and their family act unfailingly provoked the kids to hilarious laughter. And one recurring motif for me as an observer was seeing a group of Ukrainian kids who were just having the time of their lives, and their moms sitting in chairs behind just being thrilled at the fact that their kids, who had faced so much adversity and uncertainty, were themselves being thrilled. It's also an hour where the moms didn't have to be managing the kids. And a lot of times the moms were taking photos with their phones clearly to send these photos back home to their husbands in Ukraine saying, "Look, our kids are having a good time".  

Anyway, after that show, I interviewed the Deputy Mayor of Gdynia, and she told me that her city has a population of 800,000 and that there are about 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. This astonished me. She said that figure holds true for pretty much all over Poland. So imagine a situation, a comparable situation in the United States where one out of eight people in the country was say a refugee from Canada or Mexico. I mean, there aren't even enough Canadians, you know, to do that. It would be as if we had about 35 million refugees show up in this country within eight weeks, and we decided to give them free housing, free schooling, free psychological support. The Deputy Mayor said this is just a massive, massive infrastructural problem.  

For instance, they want to provide counseling for these kids. And so they have to get counselors who will speak Ukrainian. Now, most of these kids actually speak Russian as well as Ukrainian. But because Ukrainians feel compelled to abandon Russian, even if it is their mother tongue, and for many of the people we were dealing with, because they're from Eastern Ukraine, where the fighting has been, they actually speak Russian. They grew up speaking Russian in their families, their marriages, their schools. So now the Poles have to find social workers and psychologists who are both trained and can speak Ukrainian. There aren't enough apartments. It's just, it's a huge effort.  

Because as you know, John, as a history-minded sociologist, especially one who is a Germanist, the Polish nation has a 200 plus year history of being conquered, divided and gobbled up by aggressive, colossal neighbors. You know, Prussia and Germany and Russia have pretty much feasted on Poland intermittently for centuries now. And a sense of the awfulness of being brazenly assaulted by empire-minded neighbors is sort of, I think, built into the DNA of Poles and of their national historical memory.  

I'll say one last thing because you brought it up. It's true that the history between Ukraine and Poland has been complicated and fraught at times. During World War Two, there was a Ukrainian puppet state that was quite Nazi-friendly, as you know, and Ukrainians were implicated in massacres of Poles in some areas along the Polish-Ukrainian border. That's not all that long ago. So the Poles have had to metabolize some pretty, pretty big chunks of adverse history, in order to get to the generosity they're at now.  

At that event at the science center, there was a rather charming organizer, a big guy named Boris, he said "Russian name, but I'm Polish". And he loved Americans, partly because his mom had been married to a Texan for a while. And so this guy, Boris would do this bizarre impersonation of a Texas twang, sort of, you know, overlaid with some Slavic stuff, and would repeat some unrepeatably raucous things that his stepfather had liked to say. But I asked him about this, about the Polish-Ukrainian relationship. And he said, "You know, it's not that we love the Ukrainians that much, although we've had good relations with them. It's that we hate the Russians." And he said, "you know, the Russians have effed us again and again, and they're effing us still."  

So part of what's going on is sort of contending historical memories. But above all, I think that -there's a great museum in Gdansk, the Museum of World War Two, and it documents the Soviet on the one hand and the Nazi aggressions against Poland and there's one room where you walk down a narrow hall and 15 foot high flags on either side, one side, the red Soviet flag, the other side, the Nazi flag, and as you claustrophobically walk between these two giant flags, you feel that sense of being squashed between two greedy giants that Poland felt. And I felt over there often that echoes of World War Two, or were quite audible and were involved in the Polish generosity on behalf of Ukraine. 

John Torpey  15:17

Yes, it is striking how these historical memories play out in these kinds of situations. I mean, I wondered whether you were going to get around to saying that some part of this simply had to do with getting back in Russia, who, after all, is at the root of all this, right? So I mean, that's why these Ukrainians are in Poland at this point. 

Rand Cooper  15:38

I mean, and you know, again, when I was in Gdansk looking out over the harbor, where, as you know, the war began when the German battleship fired the first shots on the harbor on September 1, 1939. And, as you know, John, Hitler had been seeking a fig leaf for these actions and found it at least enough to justify it to the German public by stoking them with falsehoods and inflaming them with patriotism saying that Poles were killing Germans, which was not true. And there are, to my mind anyway, some pretty clear parallels with Putin. The Ukrainians I met, they're convinced that Putin is actually a madman, that he's crazy. I don't know, I'm not inside his mind. But I tend to see him as just an aggressive and brazen authoritarian, who decided he could get something and he's taking it, but there is a sort of lebensraum-like aspect to this. That involves not only claiming Ukraine as a conquerable war prize, but in fact, defining it as Russian. It's an incursion not only into Ukrainian territory, but into Ukrainian identity.  

When I would go through Poland (as you know, I lived in Germany for years, so I tend to see things through a German lens), all the cities that we were going to, they have these sort of shadow German names Gdansk is Danzig, Łódź was Litzmannstadt, Wrocław the Germans called Breslau. And I remembered in the city of Mainz where I lived, they probably have taken it down now, there was a sculpture a memorial along the Rhine, a sort of concrete obelisk, and it said, "Deutschland ist unteilbar": Germany is not divisible. And it listed all those names of Eastern European cities, the ones I just recited, and others in German. So there is this way in which the Germans were constantly trying to say, "this is Germany. And, and we are rightfully taking what is historically a German land". And Putin is doing that same thing.  

At one point, I was talking with one of our interpreters, a young Ukrainian woman named Anya, and a social worker named Tatiana who was working at one of the orphanages. They both grew up in eastern Ukraine: one in Odessa, the other in Sloviansk -these are both cities that have been involved in fighting, especially Sloviansk- and they grew up speaking Russian, and they were speaking Russian with each other in our van. And there's a way in which, you know, their Russianness is forming partly a pretext for what Putin is doing. And when I wanted to raise the topic of the fact that Ukraine had been persuaded by the Americans to give up its nuclear weapons in the 1990s. Because I wanted them to speculate, you know, some people have claimed, well, if that hadn't happened, this wouldn't be happening now. But even as a sort of condition for raising that topic, I said to them, they're very young, they're like, you know, in their early 20s, they didn't seem very familiar with this history. And I said, you know, "Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, when it became an independent country after the fall of the Soviet Union". They broke in, they jumped all over me. They said, "Ukraine has always been an independent country". And you know, I said, "I know, I know that. I know that, but I'm talking specifically about the breakup of the Soviet Union". They wouldn't even go there because the notion that Ukraine is an independent country has been forcefully denied by Putin, and it's part of the pretext he's used for taking Ukraine.  

So, again, you know, another echo of really bad stuff that happened in World War Two, as is the fact that at least allegedly many Ukrainian children have been shipped off to Russia. As you know, John, the Nazis would vet Polish children and the ones they found racially acceptable would be then essentially adopted into the Reich. So I found these historical echoes of authoritarian state seeking lebensraum while taking an eliminationist position toward a whole other nation to be sort of ominously familiar. And the Poles do, too. And I think that's what they're reacting to. 

John Torpey  20:31

It seems to me there have been two basic explanations of what Putin is doing. And one is that he has long opposed the idea of NATO expansion to his borders. And that has been, if you like, a sort of realist interpretation about why he's doing what he's doing. And then there's one that has to do with his famous remark about how the collapse of the Soviet Union or the dismantling of the Soviet Union was the worst disaster for the Russians in the 20th century, and that there are these kinds of sort of Imperial visions that he has of, you know, reconstructing the Soviet empire in effect, and bringing Ukraine back "heim ins Reich," so to speak, coming back into the Empire. And I think then there's the additional kind of claim that he's crazy, which seems in any case unsubstantiable, I mean, simply unprovable. 

John Torpey  21:31

But I sort of wonder: one of the things that we've seen during the time that you've been there, or were there was stories about people returning from Poland, and elsewhere, I guess, to Ukraine, despite the fact that many interpretations think that this war is going to go on for quite a long time and assuming and hoping that Putin doesn't decide he's cornered or he's in some existential crisis that leads him to lash out with nuclear or other weapons, unconventional weapons. So what is that about? I mean, what are these people thinking when they're going back? I mean, there has been this kind of narrative of late that the Ukrainians are, if not winning the war, they're keeping the Russians from winning. And understandably, I mean, being a refugee is not a fun position to be in. Their men are back home, as you've described, and maybe they just decide they'd rather be in those kinds of desperate circumstances back at home, than in a cot in a huge gym with 300 other people, and  regular regimented meals or something like that. So what's your sense of, you know, how people are managing in the refugee situation, other than the hour or so that Bill Herz and his daughter can distract them?

Rand Cooper  23:03

Let me break that down into two parts. And if I forget about the second part, you'll remind me. The second part has to do specifically with the welfare of the kids we met, and what I was able to find out about it. But the first part is the first part of your question about people going back. It's been an interesting feature of the past month that there's been significant movement in both directions. And that, that is people continue to leave Ukraine, but people are also returning. Those are different people from different parts of the country. I'm not sure if in Poland it's a net loss or net gain. But I, I'd say a couple of things about that.  

First of all, several Ukrainians I met expressed chagrin that they had somehow managed to be surprised by this. One woman I met from Kyiv basically said -well, another woman I met from eastern Ukraine, who's a lawyer who spoke came up to me after one of the shows and she spoke perfect English is a lawyer, an economist. I'll say more about her later. She said "your government was telling us this would happen. The UK government was telling us this would happen, but we didn't believe it." I heard that over and over again. "We just didn't believe it. We were surprised." They were surprised that Russia would do this.  

And part of that surprise has to do with how deeply intergrown the roots of the Ukrainian people, especially in eastern Ukraine, and Russians are: through language, through intermarriage, the number of people I met who have a Russian parent, two Russian parents, Russian grandparents. I think they thought that these cultural, linguistic, personal and familial ties would immunize them, when push came to shove, against this kind of invasion. And so when it happened, even though for us in the West, it seemed like the storm cloud that had been hovering for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. And our government was predicting it all the time. When it happened, they were stunned, and hear the sound of rockets, mortar explosions in their major cities, including Kyiv. They panicked, and they cleared out en masse. And I think some of those people, especially from Kyiv, at this point are going back. Partly because obviously, the Russians seem to have retrenched somewhat and refocus their aims. And there is obviously intense and serious fighting going on. But it is mostly in the east. And so I think you're going to see continued movement back, all other things being equal, into the western and central parts of the country. But as the war becomes an ongoing slog in the east, people are continuing to leave. I want to get back to one other thing, if you'll just remind me later, John, and that is the kind of fiendish nature of the division that this war has caused. I just want to bracket that and get back to it.  

But let me get to the second part of your question about how they're doing in Poland. One of the shows we did in a town outside Warsaw, about an hour west of there, a place called Rudno. I spoke with a teacher, a Polish teacher, who has helped integrate some of the Ukrainian kids into the schools. And by the way, that's a very difficult challenge. We did visit one school in Warsaw that had been set up just for Ukrainian kids, and for them, it was like a little bit of home in the middle of Warsaw, all their teachers are Ukrainian. There are several such schools in the bigger cities in Poland. But much more often the kids are being streamed and integrated into Polish schools, which is difficult, you know, they don't speak the language. And that presents all sorts of staffing challenges and management challenges. 

I asked this teacher, Ludwika was her name, how the kids are doing she said, she was not the only one who said this, "there's a big difference between the Ukrainian kids who came early, and the Ukrainian kids who came later." Because that first outflow of people who left as soon as the bombs started falling, a lot of those kids were not exposed to any actual war-like situation; you know, their parents said "we're going" and they left. What the teacher said is that the kids who came later, they often saw things. And I heard plenty of stories about harrowing escapes under fire, actually. People from neighborhoods where buildings were destroyed, where people were killed. And this teacher said, those kids, they're in a completely different situation. Some of them won't talk much. They don't laugh, you touch them on the shoulder, and they flinch. And there's a lot of concern about long term emotional and psychological problems that these kids have. You know, that said, they're really getting great care and great treatment. And once again, I you know, I couldn't be more impressed.  

The woman who was the lawyer and the economist who came up and spoke with me, after one of the shows, and I asked her what she would have said six months ago or a year ago, if someone had told her that in a year you'll be living in exile in an abandoned office complex in Warsaw. And she said, "Well, that is not possible. And in fact, even now, every day, this is a dream. And we keep thinking, you know, we're going to wake up, but we don't wake up." She said given that the efforts that the Poles had made on their behalf are truly remarkable. This was a couple of days after the Orthodox Easter. And across Poland, the Poles, who obviously are Catholic and don't celebrate the same Easter on the same day, made a massive display of Orthodox Easter, including preparing all over the place holiday foods, certain kinds of bread called paska -that's a Ukrainian festive bread. They put on dance shows. And this woman whose name is Anna, had her 12 year old daughter there with her Sophie, and Sophie is a gymnast and a dancer and she's already been able to find gymnastics and dance classes in Warsaw. And when I asked Sophie, who didn't speak much English, how she was feeling and how life in Poland for her was, her mother said to her "show him" and the girl backed off. And then she did a cartwheel and like, jumped up, you know, beaming. I was so struck by the courage, really the fortitude of these Ukrainians in dealing with such unexpected ruptures and maintaining a clearly hopeful stance on their future, however uncertain it is.  

And also, as I've said several times, by extraordinary efforts that Poles are making, this Ukrainian woman Anna said that the Polish people that they have the biggest heart of anyone in the world. So part of my stay there was sort of like a PR campaign for Poland. So, anyway, the kids, I think, it's really, really a mixed bag. Kids are pretty adaptable and flexible. And I will say also this: the kids, they're dealing with, with a sudden unexpected rupture. Bill Herz and his family comes and does an hour of magic; the kids are having a blast. You know, they have day to day challenges, but adults have the larger burden of understanding, among other things, the geopolitics of the moment, and the existential threat that their country is facing. So I so I think, the emotional and psychological burden is even harder on the parents, and every now and then I'd look out at the audience of moms sitting there, and while most of them would be clapping, laughing and taking photos, every now and then you'd see a woman just sitting there, with a blank stare on her face, you know, sort of 1000 yard stare, and you shudder to think what she was thinking about. So people are stunned. 

John Torpey  31:13

Right? I'm sure there must be despondency. But it's great to hear that there's so much receptivity to this population. That's such a difficult situation. But I wanted to get back perhaps to round out the discussion to the issue that you raised and wanted me to come back to, and I think that was you said the word fiendish or fiendishness. And I think you're referring to the way in which the Russian invasion has separated these two populations and made them antagonistic to each other in ways that hadn't necessarily been the case. 

Rand Cooper  31:49

Right, yeah. Anya, one of our interpreters, and Tatiana, the social worker who was working at the orphanage, they were talking in the van as we were going from one show to another and speaking Russian and I would get occasional translations. I had asked them about their relations with Russians. Anya had a boyfriend who was Russian. He lived for 12 years in Ukraine. Then he moved to St. Petersburg; Anya had considered moving to Russia. She went there and looked at it and didn't really see a future for herself there. This is a couple of years ago. She and the boyfriend broke up and stayed in touch. Once this war started, she kept sending him materials about Russian aggressions and even atrocities in Ukraine. And he rebuffed her and said, "you know, this war has nothing to do with me. I don't want to hear about it. I'm focused on my studies." And he was non-receptive, so they stopped contact. 

And both Anya and Tatiana referred to, as many Ukrainians do, Russian propaganda, that Russians are being fed lies about Ukraine. For instance, that people in Ukraine who speak Russian are being beaten. And as we know, Putin has charged that Ukrainian Russians are being beaten, even killed, and Anya and Tatiana said, "This is ridiculous. We're speaking Russian right now". And it made me think about the very particular plight of Eastern Ukrainians. You know, this division, it's clear now, it seems clear that Putin wants to shear off that part of the country and take it. He's not going to get the whole country; he wants that part and maybe he's going to get it. So there's a division of a country territorially, but this division extends within families. Anna, not Anya, the lawyer and economist told me that her mother, who's in her 70s is Russian, but lived in Ukraine a long time. And she said "my mother cries, she cried every day for a month. She could not believe that her country, original country was doing this to her adoptive country." Families are being divided.  

Tatiana came, she fled Ukraine with her mother and her brother, and they are all in Poland. I asked about her father. And she was quiet. And then she said she didn't speak English that well. She said he went another way. And I said, "What do you mean?" In 2014, when the Russians came the first time and invaded her village, she was in 11th grade then, after that, her father went with the Russians. And she hasn't seen him in eight years. So her family has been torn apart by this and then, you know, and then finally, it's sort of divide and conquer even within individuals. Anya, Tatiana, their families, growing up where they grew up, you could choose to go to Ukrainian school or a Russian school. They went to Russian schools. Russian is their mother tongue, but they feel they can't really use it anymore. So there's this divide and conquer happening territorially within communities, within families and in a sense within individuals. And so when an individual is divided and conquered in his or her mother tongue becomes an instrument in symbol of an aggressive oppressor man, you know, that is a predicament that sort of reaches every molecule of your personal fiber; it's really hard, hard to imagine that. So I see this huge distinction between people from Western Ukraine, which, where Ukrainian language is more basic, where the affiliation has long been with Europe, and Eastern Ukraine, and the predicament of Eastern Ukrainians who were the overwhelming majority of people that we dealt with, you know, really is profound, complex and hard. 

John Torpey  36:05

Now, it's a fascinating if sad and unfortunate story. I mean, it reminds me of this joke about the guy who says he grew up in Austria and went to university in Czechoslovakia and retired in Ukraine and the person he's talking to says, "oh, you really got around", and he says, "no, I never left my village". I mean, it just sounds like a very East European, although, in some ways, you know, kind of story characteristic of other war torn places where borders have moved around historically.  

In any case, thanks so much for your insights about what's going on in the refugee situation among Ukrainians, and primarily in Poland. That's it for today's episode, I want to thank Rand Cooper for sharing his insights about the refugee situation in Poland. Remember to subscribe and rate International Horizons on SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple podcasts. I want to thank Oswaldo Mena Aguilar for his technical assistance as well as to acknowledge Duncan Mackay for sharing his song "International Horizons" as the theme music for the show. This is John Torpey, saying thanks for joining us and we look forward to having you with us for the next episode of International Horizons.