MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Ukrainian Community of Morgantown is coming together to bring more awareness to the progressing attacks from Russia.
On Monday in the Mountainair on West Virginia University’s campus, the organization set up an information table. They spoke to peers about the latest developments of the battle and gave options on how West Virginians can help people in Ukraine.
“The world, the house civilized world cannot just stand still while in Ukraine there are people dying. The kids are dying. The Russians, they are shooting the kindergartens, the residential buildings. So, we’ve gathered today to bring awareness to what’s happening … We just want to promote what’s happening so people can help,” said Mark Vodianyi, a WVU Ukrainian exchange student.
Other students said they are trying to show that Russian aggression cannot be ignored.
“I would believe that people already know a lot about Ukraine, but it’s important for people to hear about it from us. We are Ukrainians and we do not stop feeling the pain for our country, for my family, for our own people fighting now for our nation, for our children and for our future,” said Khrystyna Pelcher a Ukrainian, WVU Ph.D. Student.
The Ukrainian Community of Morgantown is made up of WVU students and staff who have ties to Ukraine. Some students have family still in Ukraine and are worried about their safety. Pelcher said her grandmother is still in Ukraine.
“My heart hurts not just because knowing that she is in that age where having stress is dangerous, just because I know how much she loves Ukraine, and for all of her life, she was so optimistic about human nature and she told me, ‘Khrystyna, if you want to be heard, just speak up,’” Pelcher said.
She hopes that she will be heard when talking about the attacks to peers. So far, Pelcher said she’s been receiving a lot of support from those around her during this time, and they have been getting involved with helping her country.
“People are not ignorant. People here in Morgantown are extremely proactive and they are doing their best. They are making donations, signing petitions, they are calling their relatives from Poland and elsewhere to ask ‘how can we help Ukraine?’” Pelcher said.
Vodianyi said he’s also met people at WVU who support Ukraine, but some have said they supported the Luhansk and Donetsk “puppet governments” which are break away regions from Ukraine that are recognized by the Russian government. His effort has been focused on trying to prevent people from being misinformed about what’s happening in Ukraine.
“The Russian narratives and the Russian disinformation is all over the world, and it is our mission as Ukrainians … to promote what’s happening and to prevent people from being, bombarded by the disinformation from Russia’s side,” Vodianyi said.
Vodianyi has been watching some of the battles in Ukraine unfold on TikTok. He said he’s seen the nation rise and feels everyone will fight from the kids to the elderly.
“People are literally stopping the Russian tanks … and they are literally civilians; they are not the combatants, they are not the soldiers, they are not a regular force. They are people, ordinary village people, city people trying to stop aggression,” Vodianyi said.
On Monday, the Ukrainian Community of Morgantown will be hosting a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. at Woodburn circle.