4th of August in San-Francisco
My name is Ekatrina, currently I live in Bay Area. Today, August 4, I symbolically took part in the Day of Solidarity with civil society of Belarus, the country of my origin. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find compatriots with active civil position in my city, so I decided to act just by myself with the help of my American friends. It's not the first time when I orginize small demonstrations like that: there are different marathons, walks, parades where everyone has a chance to speak up. Usually I put on a T shirt with Belarus stuff or make a poster saying about my country. I always get support from the Americans, as they are incredebly friendly and always eager to listen to my short report about the country in the very heart of Europe. They get surprised to hear about frequent human rights violations in Belarus. I've never get negative feedback from them, on the contrary, they are always wishing me good luck and saying something really encouraging.
So on August, 4 my friends and I went to San Francisco Zoo. As it was weekend, there were a lot people there. When we were shooting a photo with a poster saying FREE BELARUS NOW, a family of 5 passing by said "Oh, free Belarus" - and came up to me. They asked why I was holding the poster. I told them that Belarus is the country where I was born. Their reaction was showing thumb down and saying "Lukashenko". I was totally amazed, and we started the conversation. They said that they went to Belarus last summer, they got their visa in Lithuania, which was not so difficult, though rather expensive. I asked them how did they like it: "Well, People are nice, but we felt oppresive there. We were staying at the hotel right next to his house in the city, and we were really scared. Though we went to the festival in Vitebsk and we really liked that". I shared with them some information about political imprisoners in Belarus and human rights violation. I am more than sure that they will tell their friends about our spontanious meeting at the Zoo and their memories about visiting Minsk: and that's how more people will know about current situation in Belarus.
When we were about to leave we stopped by a Zoo shop and I made a photo with teddy bears - the biggest threat to Belarusian President today. It's so absurd to get scared of teddy bears!
All in all, that day I met a lot of cheerful people, educated and well behaved, who recognize such words as freedom, solidarity, respect and globalization as everyday values.