Oklahoma Contemporary

Station 4

Station 4 audio

In war-torn countries such as Ukraine and Syria, displaced citizens often remain in their destroyed neighborhoods, living in sections of their own bombed-out homes, until they are forced to leave.

Narration transcripts

Victoria Stonozhenko (Ukrainian, translated)
When we heard the terrible news, my husband told me and our daughter to pack our bags and be ready to leave. I started to pack my bags, and tears rolled down my cheeks. My hands trembled because I didn't know where to run and how to act. I couldn't handle my emotions. I couldn't remember what things to put in the suitcase; I couldn't concentrate. I felt like I was going crazy.

I cried, not understanding what would happen to us next. When our things were collected, we stood in the middle of the room with suitcases, not believing that we were leaving our home, maybe forever—that I would never see my home, my bedroom, my kitchen again. I could not come to terms with the fact that I am closing the apartment and may never return here.

Olha Hrytsaniuk (English)
Just imagine, that in one day you had to lose your entire previous life. You find yourself in another country, and you need to start everything from nothing. You only have what is on you, your name, your documents, your children, and responsibility for them. Our normal life has been destroyed. I never thought that I would have to be a single mother in another country, with all the responsibility of raising and treating two children only just on me.

Victoria Stonozhenko (Ukrainian, translated)
It was very scary. I didn't want to believe that we were saying goodbye, and maybe never see each other again. The last warm hugs, kisses, breath...

My husband helped us, led us to the line where we were separated, our family was divided, torn in two. Last kiss, last hugs, and tears. I left my husband, not knowing when we would meet again.

People began to crowd into the carriage. All men said goodbye to their family and could not hold back their tears. In the middle of the car, the rules of peaceful life did not apply—no priority to elders or children. Small children lay on the floor with their legs tucked under them.

It was getting dark outside the window. It was impossible to understand where the train was going—all the names of populated areas were covered with cloth.

During the trip, the train made stops. Local farmers brought home-cooked meals to the platform and served them: sandwiches, hot soup, tea, sweets, and water. There were many people, children, and animals in the carriage, and no one could sleep. There was fear that we might not wake up and what awaits us next.

Yes, we are worried that our life had become restless, but Ukraine will definitely win, because it cannot be otherwise. Good always wins over evil.

Karen Khanagov (English)
[A violin plays] Look in the mirror. What do you see? You don’t see yourself. You see how you look like. “Who are you?” is the question. Then you look inside, hopefully you find it. [laughs] Then there is another layer, there is a spiritual part, and that third layer is oftentimes hidden so well that we don’t really think of it, or know about it, but it’s there anyway. And I was sitting and just was completely swallowed by that complex emotion. [Violin continues playing and is joined by a piano]

Olha Hrytsaniuk (English)
The brain didn’t want to accept reality for a long time. Despite everything that was happening, I tried to convince myself that it will end very soon. I said that I wouldn’t go anywhere, I started going about my daily business. But nothing ended, bad news came and came, and when it began to get dark, I realized that I simply wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I told my husband, "Let’s go to our relatives in the neighborhood region." We took the bare essentials: passports, documents, and the simplest necessary things. It was very quick to get into the car and drive off. We met our neighbor downstairs and asked what they would do. He said, “We can’t go anywhere because my car is being repaired.” We gave him the keys from our second car and told, “Take it and go.” We just gave it away. We didn’t even expect that someone would give it back to us. We said goodbye to it forever.

Victoria Stonozhenko (Ukrainian, translated)
February 24, 2022 is a date forever stayed in the memory of millions of Ukrainians. This day is remembered for the sound, taste, and smell. Life is divided into "before" and "after" the war! It is impossible to be prepared for the war, especially to accept it consciously.

I will never forget that horrible morning: panic, chaos, no ideas or any information of what was happening. I had shock, denial, misunderstanding, fear.

Remembering the beginning of the invasion, everyone had a fever and fear inside, buzzing in their ears, and tears in their eyes. We understood that it would never be the same again. The only wish was that the news about the war was not true, but the news was talking about an attack on Ukraine. I will remember this day forever, because I have never felt such fear and despair. They stole our lives, joy, homes, spring, summer...

Instead of going to work, we had to decide how to proceed: Should we stay at home or go to a safe place?

The worst thing was at night! Going to bed and not knowing if you will wake up alive in the morning or if this is your last night?

You're lying down, and drones start flying over the houses, and they fly so low and so loud that it looks like they could take the roof off the house. The war took away many homes, schools, kindergartens, toys, health, and peace for hundreds of children. These children will never go to kindergarten or school. The occupiers took away their parents' lives, peaceful sleep, laughter, food...The heart is tight and will let go only on the day of victory!

Mohdsa Musa Khil (English)
When my family left Afghanistan, I was happy and scared. I was happy because I was leaving the war. I was scared because of the Taliban; they came to my house. When my family went to the airport, we spent two nights outside the gate, then we entered the airport. There were many people waiting for a plane. We waited two more nights before we got on a U.S. army plane. We sat on the floor of the plane. It was really cold. We flew to Qatar, where we eat lots of food. From there we flew to Washington, D.C., and then to Wisconsin. For three months I stayed there. It was the best experience in my life because I met lots of nice people, and I felt happy.

Zubaida (Arabic, translated)
This song was the first time sang at the war between Iraq and Iran. It shows the braveness of Iraqi soldiers and people, that even though with the sound of guns and the war, they went to the land of war, over the barrier, all the soldiers wanted to be in front. The soldiers who died, their blood smelled like camphor.

Oh land!
Land, soil, your dirt is camphor
On the barrier sounded the gun rounds.

On the barrier we are all meeting together
We went back 
To those who want to twist our arm 
With broken arm
I swear that God (Allah) will be with you, land.

Land, soil, your dirt is camphor
On the barrier sounded the gun rounds.

Land, soil your dirt is camphor
On the barrier sounded the gun rounds.

Zubaida (English)
Home means a lot to me. It means love, peace, paradise, big dream, and sometimes pain. Most of it’s like emotional pain, but I learned from my home a lot of things: being thankful always, being positive, being strong and love, stand up for everyone, humanity. I do have a lot of memories, happy memories, and sometimes sad, painful memories. But most of the time when I remember my home, I remember me and my friends, my family, laughing together and all these beautiful memories, I can say. I always, I don’t know why, but I always remember the sun. Even if it’s very hard there, but I love, especially in the early morning, the sun is so beautiful. Give us energy so you start your day with the positive energy from the sun, you’re ready for the day, even during the war. I don’t know, I remember laughing we were laughing, we were going through...I can hear a bomb here and here, and we just talk and laugh, me and my friends, with family…under all that pressure but still together and we were happy. And sometimes we say, “Oh we’re going to die soon. Oh, okay, what’s going to happen? Okay, let’s die!” [laughs]

Victoria Stonozhenko and Lyuda Cameron, song (Ukrainian, translated)
Good evening to you, master, rejoice!
Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!
Cover the tables and everything with carpets, rejoice! Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!
But put kalachi, from spring wheat rejoice!
Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!
Because three holidays will come to visit you, rejoice! Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!
And that first first holiday - Christmas, rejoice!
Oh, rejoice, earth, the son of God was born!
And that second holiday - St. Basil, rejoice!
Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!
And that third holiday of the Holy Epiphany, rejoice! Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!
All our family, glorious Ukraine, rejoice!
Rejoice, earth, the son of God is born!

Olha Hrytsaniuk (English)
Are we happy? You know, it’s like yes, and no. My children are doing well here, we live our normal life, calmly, quietly, and peacefully. But no matter where I go, and no matter what I do, I don’t feel happy 100 percent. We are lonely, our families separated, that feeling will accompany us until the war ends. So we pray, donate, and live just a day, then one more day, and one more day, and more. We are trying to do the best we can, and hope for the peace.

Audio narrators:
Victoria Stonozhenko, originally from Ukraine, speaking Ukrainian. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Olha Hrytsaniuk, originally from Ukraine, speaking English. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Karen Khanagov; Armenian, grew up in Soviet-occupied Azerbaijan; speaking English and playing violin and piano. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Mohdsa Musa Khil, orignally from Afghanistan, speaking English. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Zubaida, originally from Iraq, speaking Arabic and English. Recorded in Buffalo, New York.

Lyuda Cameron, originally from Ukraine, speaking Ukrainian. Recorded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Video figures:
Abdula, Ahalulla, Hidyagua, and Fayeka Abdulghafar
Lisa Karrer
Tom Owens
Victoria Stonozhenko
Lyuda Cameron
Phoebe Gleeson
Rahina and Palwasha Basir
Craig Mangus
Pamela Rose Mangus
Alex Sanchez
Clara and JJ
Rowdy and Arden Gilbert
Abdula and Maryam Abdulghafar


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

see additional holidays


Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

Newsletter Signup

Join our mailing list to learn about our events, exhibitions, education and more.