SUNY Broome student dealing with family at war

Written by Ariel Hochman ||

Ukrainian-American SUNY Broome student, Elle, describes how the war is impacting her daily life. Her immediate family, friends and other relatives are currently facing this conflict overseas. Gaining a close, personal perspective on the privilege she feels living in America during these times.

Elle moved to America when she was a young child, with only her mother. Most of her family is still in Ukraine, or has sought refuge in surrounding countries. She explains “I still have a lot of family there, both on my moms and dad’s side, including my dad. Right now, they’re mostly in Kyiv, which is the Ukraine capital. My dad is currently in the Territorial Defense Force because they are enlisting anyone from ages like 18 to around 60 or something. My cousins are helping out with that as well. A lot of my family also went to Poland as refugees and there are some in Western cities where it is a lot more safe.”

The stress and overall fear has given her an existential perspective on life. She said, “I am very privileged in this situation. I am affected by it but definitely not as much as my family is. I think the biggest thing is that it puts a lot of things into perspective, like what we care about. My family is dying on the other side of the world but I am just trying to get good grades in my classes. It’s that existential kind of thing. I think in these kinds of times focusing on just daily tasks is a little weird. For my family, I cannot imagine what they’re going through right now. I talk to them often but not as often. I talk to my cousins pretty often, but my dad I lost connection with at this point. They are hanging in there. This is their life, they have been having this war – the media has only been covering it since February, but there’s actually been a war since like 2014. They’re kind of used to it, they were thinking this was going to happen and preparing but they never thought it would actually happen. Their lives were put on hold. I have a friend who was in University about to graduate, but now her University is demolished from the bombs. I do not know what she is going to do now, and she doesn’t know what she is going to do now. All she can do is hide out in a bomb shelter.” 

Elle spoke about how SUNY Broome can and has been of support for her and the Ukrainian community. She said “My professors and the administration have been really supportive in general; they’re checking in on me and they are being understanding when I can’t meet certain due dates because of the stress.” The SUNY Broome Civic Engagement Board contacted her asking for ideas to help support people. Fundraisers are a great way to assist the community struggling with this war. She reiterated, “If you really wanted to help and soothe my soul- help as much as you can towards the Ukrainian community.” Her ideas for the campus include bringing in guest speakers to incorporate what is happening into class discussions, organizing demonstrations, utilizing SUNY Broome’s social media, creating discussion around colleagues and overall continuing meaningful conversations about the war.

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