Ukraine-Russia conflict impacts Park community

Skyler Jensen, Editor-in-Chief

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Americans have experienced economic ripple effects – an increase in gas prices and a decline in the stock market may be chief among them. This holds true for most of the Park University community. But for some, this conflict has more meaningful and personal effects.

Arty Pavlov, Park MBA alumnus, is from Ukraine. He still lives in the United States and is getting his second masters in higher education from the University of Louisville, but he has family in Kyiv, Ukraine.

“It’s just really sad, how the whole thing is going,” he said.

According to Reuters, a news agency, a lot of tragedy has occurred since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the start of a “special military operation” on Feb. 24. Since then, Reuters estimates there have been at least 24,000 deaths, 1.9 thousand non-fatal injuries, at least 11 million people displaced and around $565 billion worth of property damage as of April 6.

This destruction has also affected the Russian people. The Stylus spoke with one Park University grad student from Russia who asked to be kept anonymous for fear of retribution. She said that the hardest part for her has been the uncertainty of when she will see her mom, who lives in Russia, again. The Park student lives in the U.S. with her husband, whom she recently married, and stepson.

She doesn’t think Americans understand how connected Ukraine and Russia are. There have been regional, Slavic tribes that lived in both Russia and Ukraine for centuries connecting the two countries according to this student who added that Ukraine has been Russia’s brother country for a long time as well. This student even has family in Ukraine, in the city of Uman, including her mom’s cousin.

She also struggles with seeing posts on social media that dehumanize Russian soldiers and make fun of them. She said that she feels really bad for them because it is presented differently in Russia. For example, some soldiers might not have known what they were getting into or think they’re fighting for the complete truth, so seeing those posts are heartbreaking for her.

“There should be some compassion for people who are, you know, dying,” she said.

Here at Park, President Shane Smeed wants international students to know that Park supports all students from all 59 countries that Park currently has students from.

He said, “We’ll do whatever we can to be able to support our students that are having challenges back in their home country.”

“We continue to stand with any of our international students who are in a place of conflict to provide them with support so that they can continue their education and they can be in a safe place,” he added.

Pavlov says he feels support from his community.

“It was nice knowing people care about Ukraine and Ukrainian students here in the States, but it’s definitely difficult time for all of us,” he said.

It’s also difficult for anyone to truly know what is going on in those nations. The student from Russia said that she watches the news from Russia, Ukraine and the United States. She said she’s feels there’s propaganda and bias from everywhere, so it’s very difficult for her to know what’s going on. However, she said, “It’s not as simple as Russia invaded Ukraine,” and just not a simple situation in general.

Overall, both Pavlov and the Russian student hope for peace. Pavlov said that, “I just hope that the war will end sooner rather than later.”

The Russian student said that she hopes for peace and understanding between people. In addition, she also hopes that all the governments involved in this conflict will be thinking about people.

As Smeed put in his statement, “We encourage international students to contact our International Education office for guidance and support.  We encourage any student who is feeling anxious to contact our Counseling Center and Health Services.  Licensed counselors are available at no charge to Park University students.  Likewise, faculty and staff can visit the HR page in MyPark for details about support offered via our Employee Assistance Plan.”