Ukraine’s fight is our fight too


Chris McGrath, Getty Images

Cars sit at a standstill as people try to leave the city on Feb. 24, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Overnight, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels.

Juli Mejia, Editor In Chief

It’s impossible to have an internet connection without hearing people talk about the possibility of World War III. The ironic part of that is those people are probably writing about their absolute terrors while laying on a couch, drink in hand and a warm blanket resting over their plaid PJs. Meanwhile, Ukrainians are running for their lives as Russia invades, in an attempt to reunite the two countries. That is terror. 

Fear is understandable because truthfully, we don’t know what the future holds. It’s hard for people who feel as if these events are worlds away to contextualize the severity of what is actually happening. People see the bombs, and the traffic and the crying civilians, but it’s hard to be put into their shoes and know what they are thinking and feeling. From what I’ve seen, they don’t know how to think or feel about the situation either. 

For the past month, I’ve been a part of a volunteer program called ENGin. ENGin matches American students with Ukrainian students to teach them how to learn English through friendly conversation.

I was matched with Annastasia, a 17-year-old girl who lives in Ukraine. We’ve become good friends, speaking for hours every weekend. When I last met with her virtually on Feb. 20, she was telling me about the languages she wants to learn after English, and she’s in between Spanish and Chinese (which I told her is called Mandarin.) In the future, she wants to be an interpreter, so the program means a lot to her. That same day I taught her the word hypocritical and she found the word very comical. She began using it in the wrong context, and I worried whether I should’ve taught her the negatively connotated word in the first place. 

I texted her Thursday, Feb. 24, to ask how she was doing. Attacks have happened near her city. She can’t believe what’s happening and is terrified. I’m unsure whether she evacuated or is in a safe zone, but she told me she and her family are safe, which is all that matters. 

Meanwhile, TikToks, memes and jokes have spread about the Russian invasion. In all honesty, I used to laugh at those jokes myself, never really putting what is happening into reality. It wasn’t in my world, so to me, it wasn’t really happening. But it is. People just like you and me are running for their lives. Husbands are saying goodbye to their families as they fight for their country. Civilians are being armed with guns they don’t even know how to shoot. Girls, like Annastasia, are not thinking about Valentine’s Day anymore. They are experiencing the worst part of history. All because of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruthless thirst for power. 

There has been a lot of debate about whether the United States should get militarily involved. President Joe Biden has increased sanctions to worsen Russia’s economy, a move Putin said would have serious consequences.

I am not an expert in war, nor do I have any insightful recommendations for what I think the country should do. I do, however, have that connection with Annastasia that has helped me really put into perspective the inhumanity of what is going on. War isn’t a history book anymore, and the first thing we need to do in the United States is to realize how detrimental these events are to each and every Ukrainian. Sure, two states in Ukraine are wanting to unite with Russia, but their world is falling apart around them just as much as everyone else. 

Consider how the person sitting next to you in a restaurant could be just like the one running away from explosives and hiding with their families. They could have the same aspirations or the same hobbies. Whether its the same taste in salty food or the same love for rock music, we are all human.

Just because it’s across the globe, doesn’t mean it’s far from home. They are human as we are, and deserve the same security that everyone does.

— Juli Mejia

Instead of sharing memes, spread awareness. Start learning about what is happening and ways you can help, like calling a government office to ask them to advocate and donating to medical corporations affiliated with Ukraine. Search up ways to help Ukraine, because no matter where you are, you can help. Stop spending your time laughing about it and start learning about it. That way people can have their troubles told and can be one step closer to their ordinary lives. That way, Annastasia can finally travel to the United States like she’s always wanted.