The Importance of Remaining Interested Rather Than Indifferent: A Perspective From 5C Ukrainian Students


Belén Yudess ’25
Copy Editor Intern


For the past two years, Ukranian students at the 5Cs have demonstrated resilient leadership in the face of unthinkable tragedy. After the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on Feb. 24 2022, members of the Ukrainian community on campus organized forums, vigils, and spaces of solidarity to educate and bring awareness to the war. Beginning Feb. 21, CMC and Scripps will be hosting events to commemorate two years since the full scale invasion of Ukraine. 

On Feb. 21, Anna Romandash will give a talk entitled Women of Ukraine: Reportages from the War and Beyond at Roberts North. This will be followed by several back-to-back events on Feb. 23 starting with an Athenaeum talk entitled Endgame Scenarios for the Russia-Ukraine War, a screening of Freedom on Fire at the Motley, concluding with a Vigil at the Cube to honor the Ukrainian lives that were lost.    

As the two-year mark since the beginning of the war approaches, Ukrainian students find ways to amplify the voices of Ukrainian activists, scholars, and people to showcase the strength of their country. Events such as student speaker series, Hear From Ukraine, give these students the opportunity to share their stories. The first talk featured Sofia Zaozerska HMC ’27 on Feb. 1. 

The series is grounded in the transformative impact of storytelling and its ability to humanize a situation. “I feel like the best way to communicate [difficult situations] is through stories,” one of the lead organizers of the Ukrainian Club, Ivan Dudiak HMC ’26 said. “That’s the main way humans listen to things. We have a lot of people here, and don’t have any shortage of stories.”

Dudiak’s emphasis on the importance of parting memories and moments, especially those of hope in Ukraine, rings true for fellow student organizer Marina Shishkina ’25 who returned to the country this past winter. While in attendance at a play, Shishkina and the audience had to evacuate to the bomb shelters. 30 minutes later, the entire theater returned to their seats. 

“Nothing compares to [that feeling] when you’re sitting in a theater [after] sitting in a bomb shelter and you’re about to watch the most beautiful, culturally artistic play ever,” Shishkina said. “You’re sitting in a room of strangers, but you feel so at home and connected to every person there because you guys just went through that together and everyone’s okay.”

This is not Shishkina’s first time interacting with art as a form of communal joy during times of  uncertainty. She has successfully curated three exhibits in the past two years: Lovers, Strangers, and Friends (2022); Reprinting Claremont (2023); and her most recent collection, RAW (2023). 

RAW was a series of pop-up galleries that highlighted a vast array of Ukrainian artists, with many of the pieces centered around the war. Although that exhibit has come to an end, Shishkina expressed her gratitude for the opportunity and how art will continue to inform her perception of activism. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much about myself or my country,” she said. “It felt pretty surreal to be able to look in a room and [know] all of these people are here to learn about Ukraine and the different stories of these artists.”

Dudiak, Shishkina, and the entire Ukrainian Club have dedicated their time, stories, and spirits to continuing conversations about the war. Although the content may be difficult, Dudiak asserted the significance of maintaining open communication and a firm presence with the student body. 

“We’re de facto fighting for much of the Western world’s democracy and stability and we’re the ones whose people are dying on the front lines,” Dudiak said. “There’s a high price we’re paying to motivate people to support us. The only hope for us to win this war is for all of us to be united.”

Shishkina echoed Dudiak’s belief that the path to overcoming the hatred and ignorance of the war is through honest dialogue – a truth she learned was shared by the wider community and future generations during one of her exhibits.

“There was this one time in the [RAW] gallery, when a dad who walked in, looked me in the eyes and [asked], ‘how graphic is the show?’” she said. After responding that the content was “pretty graphic,” the man brought his seven and 10-year-old children into the space while explaining everything that was going on in Ukraine.  

“That moment with the dad and those kids was so inspiring to me to know that there are people out there that care so much and want to share all of this,” Shishkina said. “That is why I do everything that I do, for the children of Ukraine and the new generation that’s growing up.”

To continue supporting Ukrainian students on campus, keep a look out for updates regarding future Hear from Ukraine talks and don’t visit the upcoming Ukrainian language table at Oldenburg.    


Image Source: Ivan Dudiak HMC ’25

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