‘It’s just devastating:’ Ukrainian support events held across MTU after one year of Russian invasion

At noon, the Yoopers for Ukraine organization gathered around the MTU Husky for a silent vigil.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 8:26 PM EST
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - One year ago on Friday, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, throwing the country and its people into turmoil.

To acknowledge the one-year mark, several events in support of Ukraine were held across the campus of Michigan Tech University (MTU) on Friday.

At noon, the Yoopers for Ukraine organization gathered around the MTU Husky for a silent vigil. They held a second silent vigil at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge later in the day at 6:00 p.m.

They and other supporters set up banners, flags and other items in Ukrainian colors.

A five-minute silence was held in honor of those who have died in the conflict and those still suffering. This was followed by playing the country’s national anthem.

Adelina Oronova, the organization’s co-founder and Ukrainian student at MTU, said that their vigil was just one of many that took place worldwide.

“Vigils today are happening all over the United States in different cities as well as in other countries around the world,” said Oronova. “The things that we can do as Ukrainians abroad is just to keep Ukraine in people’s minds, and this is the main purpose of these vigils that we’ve been holding.”

Oronova’s hometown is Zaporizhzhia, which is the home of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and is currently under Russian occupation.

“For me, it is all very personal because I am a student here, but my family is back in Ukraine, my friends are back in Ukraine, spread out all over,” continued Oronova. “I’m in contact with all of them, fortunately, but just knowing how they’re living through this day to day, it’s just devastating.”

Later in the day at 3:00 p.m., three Ukrainian students and researchers shared their stories in Room 244 of the Van Pelt and Opie Library.

They were Mila Yutskevych, a Fullbright scholar at MTU; Kseniia Yutilova, a Visiting Researcher at Texas Tech University; and Alexandra Novitchkova, a Ph.D. student at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Speaking to people both in-person and online, they spoke of their experiences on the first day of the Russian invasion and how they came to study in the United States.

They hoped that, by sharing their stories and trauma with others, they could help others understand just how terrible the situation is.

“At some point, I think you just need to hear some personal story to understand the depth of this terror, which is happening there, so I wanted to share those with people here in the USA,” said Yutskevych.

Yutskevych was in Mariupol the day the invasion began and experienced shelling and other aspects of the invasion.

She said that speaking about their experiences is different now, having processed their emotions over the past year.

“It was a traumatic experience,” added Yutskevych. “Right now, we can talk about this without the same emotions as a year ago, because a year ago, we were all really emotional. We have processed a lot of stuff, and we can reflect on our experience and share it.”

These scholars also ask that people continue to lend them their support and not forget about what is happening.