Ukrainian students to hold march at CMU in support of their homeland
Nadiya Borys and Marina Valoshina are far from their Ukrainian homeland, but no distance could stop them from standing with their people in a time of war.
Valoshina, a sophomore at Mid Michigan College, has been organizing a peaceful march to support Ukrainians affected by the Russia-Ukraine war. The march will start at 12 p.m. on March 26 outside the Central Michigan University Student Activity Center and end at the downtown Korean War Memorial.
It is important for even a small town like Mount Pleasant to acknowledge its connection to the international issue, Valoshina said.
“The number one thing is it’s not about me," Valoshina said. "I didn’t plan this march because I wanted to. I planned this march because I wanted the small town of Mount Pleasant to come together and support Ukraine—to donate in any way they can....With me starting this march, I have found there are more people in Mount Pleasant that are Ukrainian than I ever thought.”
T-shirts and flags will be sold at the march to donate money to Ukrainians, Valoshina said, and there will also be information for other ways people can donate. Funds for Ukrainian refugees' room and board and medical supplies are in high demand, Valoshina said.
“This is not a protest against Russia," Valoshina said. "This is not a middle finger up to Russia. No, this is a march showing we are standing with and supporting Ukraine.”
Borys, a CMU senior studying neuroscience, is planning to attend the march. Over Spring break, she attended a protest in Detroit where she said people of many different nationalities came to support Ukraine.
“Right now is the most proud that I’ve been to be Ukrainian ever," Borys said. "I was so happy I got to be in Detroit because it was just like the community there, everyone working together putting their differences aside.”
Borys is from Ivano-Frankivsk, in the western part of Ukraine. She said many of her family members are still in western Ukraine, away from where the fighting is, but she still worries for their safety. Borys said she calls them several times a day, sometimes staying up until 3 a.m. to talk to them. She said she has helped to find transportation—away from the fighting—for her family amidst a lack of public transportation caused by the war.
Borys said she used to visit Ukraine every summer after moving to the United States in 2008. Her last visit was in 2017, right before she started college.
“My husband listens to the news and he’s like, ‘this is sad,’" Borys said. "To me, it’s just insane because I’ve been in those areas like Kyiv and those areas that have been bombed or Odessa. I used to visit those places. I used to walk those streets. I remember how it used to be and seeing how it is now is just heartbreaking."
Valoshina was born in Severodonetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is now occupied by Russia. As an orphan who was adopted into the U.S., she said it is difficult to hear Americans talking about how the war affects them when there are people in Ukraine in worse conditions.
"It’s disgusting hearing (Americans) complain about gas prices when I know there are hospitals in Ukraine being bombed," Valoshina said. "There are children left without mothers and fathers."
Borys said she sent an email to President Bob Davies' office asking for a show of support for Ukraine.
“My email to President Davies was forwarded from his office to like an engagement office and all they provided me was psychology resources," Borys said. "That’s not what I asked for. I asked for representation of Ukrainians....I’ve seen so many other universities do protests where they support (Ukraine) or even post information, and CMU has just been silent.
“I feel like a lot of CMU officials don’t really care because it isn’t personal to them.”
On March 4, Davies posted a message of support for Ukraine on his Facebook page, promoting the Counseling Center and Employee Assistance Program as resources for those affected by the war.
"As a university community dedicated to the ideal of global citizenship, we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine," Davies' statement said. "We join our colleagues in the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in condemning the Russian invasion and express our deep concern for the safety and well-being of the millions of people impacted by this conflict.
"We are a community that prides itself on lifting up our colleagues and friends. If you know someone who is struggling, please offer them your compassion and support."
Borys said she hoped the message would have been sent in a university-wide email and included donation links or other ways people can directly help Ukraine.
Borys said she wants CMU to promote the upcoming march to its students. More information about the march can found on a Facebook page created by Valoshina.