The Georgetown University Ukrainian Society (GUUS) hosted a series of events and protests this week to pay homage to the Ukrainian people one year after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
GUUS hosted the Feb. 24 event in the Intercultural Center, which featured a choir singing a Ukrainian hymn, prayers led by Peter Mansour and an art exhibit and speeches from Ukrainian students. GUUS students also gathered for a movie screening, marched to a vigil outside the Russian Embassy and rallied at the Lincoln Memorial over the course of the weekend.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed 8,006 civilian deaths during the Russian invasion as of Feb. 26. An additional estimated 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been either wounded or killed.
Members of the Georgetown student body and the graduates have stood in solidarity with Ukraine throughout the war, such as through educational speaker events and professors raising over $22 million in humanitarian funds. A $5 million donation from two Georgetown graduates in June 2022 established the Gracias Family Sunflower Current Use Scholarship Fund, which enabled four Ukrainian students to attend Georgetown University on full scholarships and supported several others with merit-based aid.
Kyryl Myronenko (SFS ’26), a Gracias Family Scholar and GUUS organizer, said that while many Georgetown professors focus on Ukraine in their classes, it is beneficial for students to also understand the crisis from a humanitarian perspective.
“Especially here at Georgetown, it’s so important that all the young students, all the future leaders, get an education of not only an academic perspective,” Myronenko told The Hoya. “Everything includes Ukraine, but also it’s important that we students, coming from Ukraine, are able to share our perspective and just spend this time together.”
Myronenko said that for Ukrainian students, being away from home during a time of crisis is a challenge.
The United States recently received intelligence that the Chinese government has considered supplying Russia with lethal assistance, such as drones and ammunition. Although China has not officially committed to this move, Chinese President Xi Jinping is rumored to be visiting Moscow next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sofia Sulek (SFS ’23), a GUUS organizer who has been actively involved with advocacy efforts for Ukraine since the invasion began, hails from Slovakia, a country neighboring Ukraine.
Sulek said she still wanted to engage with the Ukrainian cause in any way possible, despite the emotionally stressful nature of the Russian invasion.
“My country, being neighbors with Ukraine, was affected in the fact that we had so many refugees pouring in,” Sulek told The Hoya. “I immediately, on a personal level, felt like I wanted to get involved and had a responsibility to help out. I was just trying to get to know other people that might be Ukrainian or Eastern European, or from any affected area.”
Olha Kovach (SFS ’26), also an organizer with GUUS and a Gracias Family Scholar, said she appreciates the community and university support, including assistance from the School of Foreign Service with the Feb. 24 event. As part of the event, GUUS set up an art exhibit to honor sixteen Ukrainian students who died fighting for their country.
Kovach said the exhibit and the stories shared by Georgetown students from Ukraine had a powerful impact on those who attended.
“The Ukrainian students shared their experiences and how war impacted them,” Kovach told The Hoya. “I think it was just really nice that people could hear that and understand what is going on from the students’ perspective.”
Kovach said GUUS plans to host a number of events, including a visit from the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oksana Markarova and a fundraising art fair throughout the Spring semester.
Myronenko said the Ukrainian community at Georgetown encourages the student body to start conversations and engage with GUUS activism efforts as the war in Ukraine enters its 13th month.
“Do anything you can when you have time, when you have an opportunity. Read the news, speak with us,” Myronenko said. “Even though it’s incredibly hard for us to speak about the war, hard to realize that we are here when everyone is in Ukraine, it’s really important, and we are always very open to tell you everything you would like to learn about Ukraine and Ukrainian society events.”