Dorm Students React to Conflicts Between Russia and Ukraine

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As more and more international students come to T.A., dorm dynamics become a microcosm of the world. This year we have six students from Ukraine and one from Russian who give us more intimate view of world’s news and national conflicts and specifically can help shed light on conflict between their countries.

Junior Iaryna Iasenytska comes from Ukraine. Iasenytska said with the help of the Internet she keeps in touch with global news and specifically about her country’s role in world politics. Reading and checking daily news about Ukraine is a part of her routine since she came to study in Saco. Iaryna said she also finds lots of news on Facebook and from other resources, but no matter what the resource, to her the most important news is about the “wars” between Russia and Ukraine, a conflict that has been going on for two years. She said it is alarming that there are constant reports of casualties from the frontline where soldiers are protecting Ukraine from Russia, “There is always a chance your loved one, brother or friend might come back injured, or even worse, they will not come back.”

She believes that most stories she has read are genuine and trustworthy. She reads a lot of posts that were written by people who were in the epicenter of the news.  She follows “different bloggers and volunteers who share great information are really helpful with keeping me updated.” Most of the news she reads is via the Internet, because there is a great variety of news she can find on her laptop.

She referred to Russians as invaders that have been attacking her country and causing lots of problems. “It’s a nightmare really,” she said in a complex tone, her experience and emotions adding weight to her words.  She shared that it is emotionally hard to be far away from home, and the distance is made even more unsettling by worries that her family or her friends might one day be victims of conflict in her country.

Freshman Daria Sabirova who came second quarter this year, was born in Ukraine, but both of her parents are Russian so she sees the conflict from both sides. “I can’t be only on one side, Ukrainian or Russian. Me and my family are in the middle. We don’t belong to any one side.”

When she was back home she watched the news about the war every single day. Now she is scared to watch the news of home, because a lot of people are dying and it is hard to watch from the other side of the world. “I am far from war…but still it is in my country.” She knows she is lucky to be here in Saco and said in Ukraine the conflict affects many people’s daily life. Some of them are soldiers, and everyone knows people involved in the conflict.  

She said the tensions back home don’t affect her relationships with Thornton students from Russia. Most of her best friends here are from Ukraine or Russia because they all speak the same languages and understand each other’s culture better than anyone else can.

Yana Levushevska, who is also from Ukraine, tries not to pay much attention to the news between Ukraine and Russia because she knows well enough the situation. She sums up the conflict like this: “Being a part of the USSR for a long time, Ukraine is definitely connected to Russia socially and economically. The Eastern part has mainly Russian-speaking population and economically strongly depends on Russia. So it is natural that after the revolution some parts became Russian. However, there is no real historical reason for that, so any talks about Ukraine as a part of Russia don’t have a reasonable background and are false. My understanding is that this is one of the challenges that Ukraine faces being a young country (independent just since 1991).”  

She regrets that Ukraine hasn’t been able to get out of this plight in the short-term. She feels that Ukraine and Russia will always have conflicts over finance and energy resources like electricity and oil, and believes that these years of conflicts are largely due to big debts they owed Russia. She worries that at this point Ukraine is on its own over the fight with Russia because Europe and United States are being silent on these issues. Also, Russia according to her has not officially declared any moves it plans to take to help resolve these problems.

Levushevska believes news is generally interpreted in the way that looks more favorable to the country producing the news. For example, “in news from Russia, Ukrainians were terroristic nationalists.” But she tries to ignore media bias and explained, “I had the great luck to talk to people who have witnessed the war and have been part of it, so that is the only source of information I consider to be reliable.”

This conflict has definitely affected people’s lives on a regular basis, according to Levushevska. The continuing result of the conflict is a huge economic crisis that has resulted in expensive essentials and increasing unemployment. Also, because some areas are occupied by war, there are more limited living spaces. Therefore, they started to move and gather at center of Ukraine and crowded the capital.

Levushevska said this conflict doesn’t affect her school life here. She has some really good Russian friends because they all have agreed that political issues shouldn’t have bad influences on their relationships while in America. She said that like many other students from her country on campus, as Ukrainians, they are very worried about their country’s situation and like discussing Ukraine’s position with students and faculty who are interested in learning more. 

Senior Nikita Stepura, shared his impressions too. He had similar thoughts to other Ukraine students and said, “the situation between these two countries is very intense, as a lot of things have happened which not only mean a straight-forward conflict but almost a full-scale war.” He then added, “the tensions which have been escalating have never stopped. Both countries try to do something bad for each other as much as possible.”

Now that he is in America, he doesn’t watch the news every day; rather 1 or 2 times a week, and in between he talks to his friends or parents who fill him in on recent events.

“Most people in Ukraine are affected by this conflict because of the economic factors (economic recession, problem of currency, etc.), family factors (family members who are near the war zone or soldiers).”  Luckily, Stepura says his family is only affected by economic factors.

When asked about the affects the conflict has on his relationships with students from Russia and Ukraine at Thornton, he gladly said, “No, it does not affect my relationship with other students here at all.”

3 Responses to Dorm Students React to Conflicts Between Russia and Ukraine

  1. Lmao May 18, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    The story addresses a really serious topic and brings really interesting perspective. However, I think the vocabulary is a bit short and the structure of the article is repetitive

  2. Natalie May 18, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    Great content

  3. Tianni Xu May 18, 2016 at 9:22 am #

    This article directly shows dorm students opinion about latest hot spots, it’s really interesting.

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