McMaster’s Ukrainian Students Are Sharing How Can We Help Ukraine

Ukrainian Students

After the Russian aggression on Ukraine in February, all of McMaster’s Ukrainian students are filled with misery and the pain they feel is not just theirs, but also for the whole community that spans the globe. After being exposed to a multitude of disheartening messages and images from their devastated homeland, it is not surprising that these students find it difficult to focus on their academic assessments.

Aleksa Gobosz is a third-year Biology student and Larisa Hemon is a third-year Life Sciences student. In addition to participating in Ukrainian cultural activities for more than 10 years and representing Ukraine’s interests at the national level, the two Vice-Presidents of Fundraising of the McMaster Ukrainian Students Association are tirelessly committed to the cause.

“We actively participate in the Ukrainian church. People may think that because we are Ukrainians, we are bringing this issue to the forefront now. However, that is not true at all. We are deeply invested in our culture and always have been. It is integrated into every facet of our lives,” said Gobosz.

What MUSA Decided?

With Easter approaching, MUSA (McMaster Ukrainian Students Association) has decided that a suitable way to raise money for Ukraine would be with Pysanky kits. They are selling kits that include a kistka wax, 5 dyes, and instructions. The earned money will be donated to the Ukrainian fund.

Additionally, recently donating approximately  $800,000 in funding for displaced students, finding mental health support through services such as the Student Wellness Center has been a hurdle in itself. McMaster does not have culturally sensitive crisis management plans in place that are equipped to deal with the mental health struggles that arise for students due to ever-evolving global circumstances.

The Situation of Students

People think it’s an ordinary conflict thousand of kilometers away, not going to affect them. That is far from the truth as it is already affecting us day by day. Ukrainian students are further burdened with knowing that their family and friends are in constant shelling with no way out. Many Ukrainian students communicate round-the-clock with their loved ones, during and in between their day-to-day life. Unfortunately, the extent to which the war has drastically shifted the lives and priorities of Ukrainian students has been vastly underreported, leaving many Ukrainian students burnt out and emotionally exhausted.

Participate in the events and rallies

Emilia Pasternak, the fourth-year nursing student and MUSA co-president joined over 30,000 people in Toronto on the walkway in support of Ukraine. Moreover, she said that even though people might not see the immediate value of rallies or events, the experience reminded her that a show of support can make a huge impact on their minds. There have been more rallies and events across Canada and will continue. A good place to find out when the next one is through “SUSK”, the Ukrainian Canadian Student Union.

Don’t blame the Russian people

All of the student leaders of MUSA stress that people across Europe are affected by the war, including the Russian people too.

Do not blame the Russian people as decisions made by the Russian government are not necessarily reflective of the beliefs of all Russian people,” says Hemon.

There are a lot of Ukrainians in Hamilton and McMaster and the only way to get over this is by working together. There are efforts to facilitate attune help for students fleeing Ukraine to support academic freedom.

Read More: How Russia’s Theft Legality Will Cost Unfriendly Nations?

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