Across the Triad, many are reacting to Wednesday's violence at the United States Capitol, including those who fled authoritarian countries to live here. 

Belarus native Polina Khatsko and her family now call Winston-Salem home. She's a collaborative pianist at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and says that while the violent outbreak in Washington D.C. did not come as a surprise, it was nonetheless shocking to witness. 

“The first thing that came to my mind was, of course, I was appalled because it was not a nightmare, but reality,” says Khatsko. “I was disgusted with the barbaric images from the capitol building. I was ashamed for what's happening in this country. I was, of course, frightened. And it was especially vivid to me when my ten-year-old child came to me before going to bed and his only question was, ‘Mom, is tomorrow going to be worse?'”

Louis Mashengo is a teacher from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he's currently studying education in Greensboro. Mashengo says watching the rioting on social media was crazy.

“The first thought that came to my mind was, ‘Is this really America — the United States of America that we know — or is it something else?'” he says. “The country that I came from is a country that has been in war for many years and that is the same image that came to my mind — the image of war, the image of trouble, and the image of people who don't want to leave. They need to remain in power.”

Wake Forest School of Medicine research faculty Giselle Melendez is from Venezuela. She says for her the events at the nation's Capitol on Wednesday took her back to a dark time.

“It felt like the hairs on the back of my neck stood,” says Melendez. “It was a chilling sensation. It was almost like PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. What went through my mind was that I left Venezuela running away from this and here we are again.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This transcript was lightly edited for clarity.




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