I hope this is already outdated

Counter to popular belief, Ukraine’s relations with Russia have actually been strained for far longer than the unprovoked invasion in 2022. The invasion of 2022 was the escalation of an ongoing eight-year-old conflict that began when Russia annexed Crimea(Krym).

Ever since I was five, still living in Ukraine, I have been exposed to the brutal truth of battlefield casualties and statistics. Every morning over breakfast, I would listen to the short stories of all those who had passed away the night before, those who had gotten injured, and those who had gone missing, followed by some breakfast recipe. Every few months schools asked kids to bring in donations for the soldiers. It was extremely desensitizing. Everyone started to forget how serious the conflict really was. People were dying and yet nothing was done about it for eight long years.

The first time I realized something was actually off was when I first visited Poland—that is how desensitized I had become. In Poland, everyone seemed to be blissfully unaware of what was going on. Nobody mentioned anything, nobody asked anything, and I realized that Poland was different. Poland’s independence and territory were not threatened. The people of Poland were unaware of what was going on in the east of my country. Within those few days, I slowly started to realize that the world was bigger and far less informed than I had believed. From then on, I began to understand that we were alone and insignificant. It’s funny, because before 2022, I would be willing to suggest that most people have never even heard of Ukraine, much less known where it was located or anything about its history and significance.

Why did nobody speak up earlier? Why did nobody spread awareness? Why was nobody the voice of reason we, Ukrainians, really needed as a people before a conflict could overgrow into something far worse than anyone could have imagined? Why was nobody the role model I needed at a young age? I was raised believing this was normal. This was my normal. Hearing about battle casualties every morning over breakfast, always having this thought at the back of your mind that reminds you that there are people, far, far away, your people, fighting for your freedom. I was brought up thinking that this was the case in every country, that every country was fighting for its freedom and that that was why we had the military in the first place.

The world was unaware of what was going on until the invasion of 2022 and NATO is only now considering speeding up the process of making Ukraine one of its members—even half expecting us to surrender at some point. This shows that not even the vast expanses of the internet provide us with the most crucial information when it’s most important. Knowing this, the average person, who may be concerned with current events, and particularly those not spoken about enough, can find an abundance of media sources to keep themselves informed. This may include foreign news outlets, local newspapers and magazines, national television and news articles.

There are a few things someone can do to support Ukraine, its people, and its soldiers in their efforts—both directly and indirectly. Protests are a good place to start. Protests are fairly common and send a message to those in positions of power. The more people participate in a protest, the more likely they are to be heard. Volunteering is another good way to help. All through 2022 a lot of volunteers packed supplies for soldiers and refugees alike. Donating said supplies also helps, if anything of the sort is being organized near you. Although the previous two are important and impactful, they will not always be available to everyone. The best anyone can do is spread awareness. Spreading awareness will lead to more people speaking out and finding their own ways to help and be supportive. The more people speak out, the more likely there is to be change.

I pray that by the time future DMSF scholars read this blog, the war has been resolved, ended, settled, and that everything is back to the way it’s meant to be.

Olena Dub – St. Ignatius College Prep – DMSF Class of 2027