Ukrainian exchange student shares story


Vlad Vasylyk is a usual superior faculty pupil. He spends his days as a overseas trade scholar at H.H. Dow Significant College participating in educational golf equipment, earning buddies and finding out about American lifestyle.   

Soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin released an attack on his hometown of Kharkiv, Ukraine very last thirty day period, every little thing changed for Vasylyk.

Now, the 16 yr aged is sharing his tale, and that of his country, with the Midland community with the objective to distribute recognition and comprehending about what is going on in Ukraine.

Pursuing a passion

Vasylyk, 16, arrived to the U.S. via Long term Leaders Exchange (FLEX), a program by the U.S. Section of Condition. FLEX delivers scholarships for pupils from Europe and Eurasia to commit an academic 12 months in The united states the acceptance amount is 2.3%, which rivals acceptance charges at Ivy League colleges.

He began the method in September, first keeping with a household in Bay Town. In December, he transferred to Midland where he now lives with Kirk and Dawn Bortel. The Bortels have hosted trade college students in the previous, but none as youthful as Vasylyk. The few obtained to know Vasylyk and his spouse and children over the past a few months, exchanging emails and finally movie calls.

One of Vasylyk’s favorite pursuits is cooking. He not too long ago produced borscht for his host family members.


“He is just a wonderful young person,” Dawn said.

In Bay Town, Vasylyk enrolled in a journalism class and developed a robust crafting type. Encouraged by his trainer, he ongoing to go after journalism right after he transferred to Dow Superior School. Now he is taking into consideration it as a possible career path.

“I learned this talent, that I could in fact compose some thing, and I could make an influence by producing,” Vasylyk explained.

Cammie Corridor, advisor to the Dow High’s student paper, Update, was amazed with the crafting samples Vasylyk showed her when he to start with came to Midland. Though he started off out shadowing senior newspaper staffers, Vasylyk rapidly moved up to produce independently as a personnel writer.

“He certainly experienced a excellent crafting fashion presently that labored nicely,” Corridor said. “He’s quite fantastic at taking part in our brainstorming periods doing that deep investigate to discover connections to pupils. He’s been a enormous asset.”

Very little did Vasylyk know that in a number of months at his new school he would have a probability to share the story of a life span.

Bringing a international problem to the community degree

On Feb. 24, Vasylyk been given numerous messages from his mates and spouse and children. Puzzled, he texted his older brother, who is in Poland, to ensure the scenario. It was accurate: Russia experienced invaded Ukraine. 

“Since we all had listened to about all the navy buildups, I was not anticipating (an invasion), but I understood that it could happen,” Vasylyk claimed.

Russian forces had amassed along the Ukrainian border because early 2021 by the conclusion of the year, there were an believed 150,000 troops, according to the Affiliated Press. On Feb. 24, Putin introduced the start off of a “special military operation” supposed to demilitarize Ukraine and uproot alleged “neo-Nazi nationalists.”

Simultaneously, Russian navy unleashed a collection of air raids and missile strikes on Ukraine’s armed service amenities and essential infrastructure.

Gatherings escalated and inside of a couple days of the invasion, Vasylyk’s hometown was bombed.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest town with a population of 1.4 million, has been frequently shelled by Russian forces. In a March 16 Aljazeera short article, a regional emergency service documented at minimum 500 folks have been killed in Kharkiv considering the fact that the invasion commenced. On March 15, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov stated that a lot more than 600 buildings have been wrecked.

“It was kind of really hard to see (images of) the downtown, the destinations wherever I would go for walks in the summertime,” Vasylyk stated. “Just viewing them as if they jumped out of a historical past ebook was challenging. They seemed like absolutely nothing like they were being.”

Vasylyk and the Bortels have retained in frequent get in touch with with Vasylyk’s relatives, maintaining tabs on their predicament. Vasylyk described that his family members remained in Kharkiv briefly, huddling in a shelter for a few evenings. Later on, they decided to move to western Ukraine alongside with a mass exodus.

“Usually that variety of vacation would consider just one or two days at the most, which include an overnight stop,” Vasylyk stated. “It took them six days to get there (simply because of the crowds).” 

Just one of the most tricky features for Vasylyk is not recognizing what the long run will look like or where by he will go when the trade plan ends this summertime. Although he can take consolation in being aware of that his family members is safe, some of Vasylyk’s friends are staying in Kharkiv.

“I’m concerned about them,” Vasylyk mentioned.

Although brainstorming topics to cover for the Update’s March 18 edition, Hall proposed localizing the conflict in Ukraine. Update Editor-in-Chief Katie Hagen, a senior, volunteered to write the story. Meanwhile, Vasylyk supplied data and job interview chances with himself and his mothers and fathers.

“We just believed that we had a interesting option there that we didn’t want to go up, having (Vlad) in our class,” Hagen mentioned. “He was generous more than enough to have me interview him. Of course, it is a really delicate subject matter, but it was a actually amazing working experience.”

The prospect of composing about a world-wide historic celebration was daunting, as Hagen was more made use of to masking tales about college and community activities. She delved into the background primary up to the invasion – together with interviewing 1 of the school’s record teachers, Brent Chambers – highlighting the Russian and Ukranian presidents as very well as describing how events are impacting Vasylyk and his relatives.

Hagen, who has been associated in journalism course for a few decades – the earlier two on staff – stated that her horizons have been broadened, and her standpoint was transformed by crafting the story.

“I’ve in no way written a story of that magnitude ahead of. I basically went in with no prior know-how,” Hagen mentioned. “It was a cool chance for me to find out about the problem and to be aware.”

Vlad finds his voice

In addition to contributing to Hagen’s write-up about Ukraine, Vasylyk has spoken to other lessons about recent situations and what led up to the invasion. Vasylyk hopes to distribute consciousness and being familiar with of the problem by giving initially-hand data. He explained that he is delighted to solution issues, even if people sense not comfortable inquiring them.

“It definitely switches the way you perceive those issues,” Vasylyk said. “I felt like this could likely assistance the problem, by bodily currently being existing and spreading awareness.”

Vasylyk has also talked with associates of the Bortels’ church, sharing his insight about the invasion.

“He has been keen to step out and support other people actually understand about what’s likely on in Ukraine,” Dawn mentioned.

“He’s been quite beneficial in the feeling of what is happening,” Corridor said.

Vasylyk stated that the assault versus Ukraine is not very clear-reduce, stating that lots of Russians really don’t approve of Putin’s steps. There are also kinfolk on the two sides of the conflict Vasylyk himself is 50 percent-Russian and has family across the border.

“I want men and women to have an understanding of the simple principle of us as human beings,” Vasylyk stated. “No make a difference how various we surface to be, we are so, so identical. No matter of in which we are from, what qualifications we have, what language which we converse, people are people today.”



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