Student shares experience living in Ukraine

Ali Schulz
Opinion/News Editor

ukraine

Saint Michael cathedral located in downtown Kyiv. It was built in the year 1108 and is one of the oldest in the country. Photo provided by Astrid Thorn

With the situation in Ukraine, questions have been left unanswered, and people are wondering how people connected to Ukraine feel like right now.

Senior Astrid Thorn was born in Vermont but moved to Ukraine when she was in third grade. Her dad worked for the U.S. government, which is what caused the move. She lived in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, for two years until she had to flee due to violence in the city.

“When the violence erupted we were confined to our house for two weeks. I could hear everything, the gunshots and homemade bombs,” Thorn said.

The violence was against the president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych. There were civil uprisings, and people were mad about the government and how it unfairly treated people.The president sent riot police to try and stop them. This ended in a fight, which left 100 people dead by Feb. 22, 2014.

When Thorn finally got to leave her house, she could see all the remains of the violence, like the ruined buildings. “It made me realize this was all very real,” Thorn said.

Although there was violence in the city, there were also amazing things about Ukraine. Ukraine has a very different culture than here in America, and Thorn said that navigating through the new culture and experiences was interesting. Thorn did not know the language, which made her rely heavily on friends and family to help her. In her time there she also tried new foods, such as borscht, a beat-based soup, and varenkyky, little dumplings. She also viewed several historic buildings.

Thorn moved back to the U.S. in summer of 2014 and came to Missouri where some of her mom’s family lived. “It was comforting in a way [to move back]. After seeing what I saw, I needed familiarity,” Thorn said.

When Thorn heard about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she tried to ignore it as much as possible because after living there, it was hard to watch and see what was happening. Her dad was part of the operation to get Americans out of Ukraine, so the first night she sat at the TV and watched the news.
“It’s been weird seeing [images of] the places I used to go up in flames,” Thorn said.

Thorn said the first week after the invasion was the hardest because people did not understand the magnitude of the situation. The weeks after have been a lot of waiting for news from friends and reporters about what is happening.

Thorn discovered that her former housekeeper’s living space had been bombed, but she is alive and is now in a safe place. Thorn also had a friend who is related to a former Ukrainian government official, but they are also now in a safe place.

Some ways to help are donating to foundations that are providing relief and needed supplies to Ukraine citizens. Helping refugees by supplying them with needed items and reaching out and supporting them can also make a difference. Donating to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which works with Ukraine, is one of the organizations that are helping.
“We need to talk about it and make sure we are not letting it go unnoticed,” Thorn said.

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Ali Schulz- Opinion/News Editor

This will be Ali Schluz’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her freshman year.


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