Community members gather for Ukrainian demonstration outside Main Building
Gabby Beechert | Friday, March 4, 2022
Members of the Notre Dame community gathered in front of the Main Building Wednesday evening for a demonstration advocating for peace in Ukraine eight days after the Russian invasion.
Organized by the Notre Dame Ukrainian Society, the demonstration gave community members with Ukrainian ties a chance to share their stories.
Junior Maryna Chuma, president of the Ukrainian Society, delivered the opening remarks just after 5 p.m, followed by the playing of the Ukrainian national anthem. Chuma asked those with Ukrainian connections to gather at the front of the crowd, inviting others to approach them to begin conversations about their Ukrainian identity and family members in Ukraine.
“My grandparents are all back in Lviv, my aunts, my uncles, all my cousins. But they’re holding up,” Sofia Dobko, a third-year student at the Ukrainian Catholic University, said. She is studying at Holy Cross for the spring semester.
Dobko came to Holy Cross with her parents after her father received an opportunity to conduct research at the Nanovic Institute. Her sister, however, did not come with her family to South Bend.
Dobko, along with many other students with Ukrainian ties, said she struggles with the fact that she must continue to go through her day-to-day routine while her loved ones are in Ukraine.
“It’s so weird because me being here, I still have to attend different classes at Holy Cross,” Dobko said. “I like talking to my friends on the phone and just asking them how they are doing.”
Chuma shared a similar sentiment to Dobka.
“There’s the guilt of us not being in the country,” Chuma said at the end of the demonstration. “I’m so grateful to be learning at a university like this. But there’s students in Ukraine right now who last Thursday, they stopped doing work because they couldn’t physically leave their homes.”
Although they are not physically in Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian Society are trying to help from abroad. Groups of students are raising money and providing the names of organizations to which people can donate. Chuma said the Ukrainian society raised over $5,000 for Ukrainian refugee families in less than a week.
The demonstration also helped members of the Ukrainian society express their beliefs regarding the current needs of Ukraine.
Members of the Ukrainian society also shared their expectations for the future of the conflict. Junior Christian McKernan, treasurer of the Ukrainian society, said it is important to remember “the fate of the Ukrainian people” in light of Ukraine’s efforts to defend the country against the invasion.
“Russian forces and shells continue to threaten Ukrainian sovereignty. While western unity is of course admirable, should such an accomplishment be celebrated at the martyrdom of the Ukrainian nation as your presence demonstrates today? The answer to this question is absolutely not,” McKernan said. “We gathered here today for more than a celebration of unity but to celebrate the Ukrainian nation and her people, especially their independence that we respect and uphold.”
Before leading students to the Grotto, the Ukrainian national anthem played a second time. McKernan concluded the demonstration by explaining the significance of the song in the context of current events. The name of the song itself and the first line translates to “Ukraine has not yet perished,” he said.
“But it just goes to show in the song how big of a fear that is for Ukrainians and how much their country does mean to them,” McKernan said. “So, when you hear the song, please know that it’s more than that.”