Ukrainian Exchange Student Reflects on Ukraine/Russia Tensions

Foreign exchange student Vladyslav Pavlenko elaborates on his feelings considering his home country is involved in conflict


Sydney Howard, Editor In Chief

With tension rising as Russia threatens to invade Ukraine, foreign exchange student Vladyslav (Vlad) Pavlenko shares his feelings and opinions regarding the fact that his home country is facing conflict, and what other countries are doing about it.

“Honestly, we have been at war for eight years now,” Pavlenko said. “It all started in 2014 after the revolution.

Many residents of Ukraine were previously unhappy in 2013 regarding their president, as well as the news surrounding Ukraine joining the European Union.

“Some students wrote on Facebook, “We need to go to the main square to show our position,” and that protest, which was later called the Revolution of Dignity,” Pavlenko said. “During that time, a lot of crimes were committed because of the presidency and the government.”

Living in the middle of Ukraine during 2014, Pavlenko found himself far from the borders where armed conflict initially took place, and is continuing to take place today. Now, he is living in the U.S. as a foreign exchange student.

Many Ukrainians face different adversities while living in the war-torn environment.  Some even went to war to defend their home country and support their families.

“I know a lot of people in 2014, after the war had begun, that moved territories to places like my school. They lost their houses and they lost their family members because they wanted to become soldiers,” Pavlenko said.

According to WRAL, around 19,000 people of Ukrainian descent live in N.C., and Pavlenko now happens to be one of them. However, with living in the U.S., many Ukrainians are unable to provide aid to their home country and its inhabitants.

“I was shocked when I heard about 100,000 soldiers and troops on the borders. Every night I see the news about Ukraine, and it just makes me feel nervous about it all,” Pavlenko said.

However, in receiving aid from countries such as France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Estonia and the U.S, Ukraine isn’t dealing with the situation alone.

“I really appreciate that the U.S. is supporting, as well as Great Britain. I really appreciate how Biden said that if they attack Ukraine, he will provide extensions against them. It really helps because we are getting a lot of aid from different countries, while Russia is not helping us because they are scared.”