Students at LCC International University in Klaipéda, Lithuania, are working on a Ukrainian relief initiative in cooperation with other organizations. For many, this engagement is part of their response to the human suffering and trauma they have experienced in their countries of origin. LCC has 800 students from 60 countries. The university has a robust campus ministries team and counselors available to students as they seek to cope with grief.
Robin Gingerich has served at LCC, through Mennonite Mission Network, for more than two decades. She sent a link to an article in the March 19 issue of the LRT English Newsletter. LRT is a Lithuanian public service broadcaster.
This article interviews some of LCC's 176 Ukrainian students and 34 Russians students.
Oleksiy Korotych, a student from Poltava, a Ukrainian city located between Kharkiv and the capital, Kyiv, described the morning he woke to the news of that Russia had invaded his country. "I called my parents, and they said they were packing up their things and getting ready to leave the country. I don't think I've ever been as stressed in my life as I was that morning."
Korotych's mother and brother fled to Estonia, but his father remained in Poltava to care for his grandparents and other relatives.
Sofia Memedova, an LCC student from Russia, wanted to join her peers in helping Ukraine resist Russia's invasion, but she feared that she would be rejected because of her nationality. Her hesitation was unfounded. Memedova said that her presence was welcomed by the Ukrainian students without any objections.
"It doesn't matter that I'm Russian. It matters that I support them. There is a lot of talk about Russophobia today, but I don't feel it here at LCC International University," Memedova said.
Tetiana Honcharenko, of central Ukraine, said she has experienced different emotions each day since the beginning of the war.
"Sometimes, I feel depressed. Sometimes, I feel fear. Sometimes, to be honest, I feel anger," Honcharenko said. "Sometimes, I'm filled with hope that we will emerge victorious from all of this and be even greater than we were before the war."
The Ukrainian and Russian students are worried about their relatives and try to contact them as often as possible. Sophia Kozlovska said that she calls her family in Ukraine every day.
"It's hard to be here [at LCC], especially because you feel that you could help them. But at the same time, I realize that there is a lot I can do, even if I'm here," said Kozlovska.
To help support relief efforts for Ukraine, donate online through Mission Network's website or mail a check with "Ukraine relief" in the memo line to:
Mennonite Mission Network
PO Box 370.
Elkhart, IN 46515-0370