One Fashion Design student talks about the challenges of dealing with a war at home while studying abroad
Veronika describes her classmates as very aware and supportive
Veronika Svyatko is currently studying Fashion Business at HKDI/LWL. Veronika is from Kiev, Ukraine, a city that has been the flashpoint for the dominant news story of 2014.
Sides clashed violently in Kiev in February
As has been shown on countless newspapers, magazines and screens since protests first began in late 2013, Kiev has been the central battleground between opposing political factions within Ukraine. As clashes between Government forces and “Euromaidan” protesters became more violent in early 2014, the crisis began to grow. What had begun as a stand-off mainly between Pro-Russian and Pro-European Union sides within Ukraine quickly developed into a site of global contention, forcing nations around the world to choose sides in a highly unpredictable and constantly evolving situation, where the stakes are potentially higher than they have been since the Cold War.
Former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych (right), shown here with Vladimir Putin, fled the country in February
Veronika, who has also studied in China and around Hong Kong, was kind enough to sit down with us and share her feelings about the turmoil back home, as well as the unique challenges of completing college on the other side of the world while parents and grandparents try to deal with life in such contested areas. Veronika’s immediate family is based in Kiev, while her grandparents are in the countryside of Crimea, a historically strategic peninsula which has just this week seen a huge influx of Russian troops, and is currently in a the midst of a tense deadlock.
The focus of the conflict has moved to Crimea, in the south
For those less familiar with the events in Ukraine, Veronika lays out a very detailed account in the middle section of this interview. For a quick primer, readers can also consult this timeline, published in The Independent just this week.
Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Europe
Some other interesting resources can be found here:
Vice made a short documentary from inside the Independence Square protests, Ukraine Burning, which gives a sense of the intense violence that gripped Kiev in February.
For the latest updates on the situation, you can follow the hashtag #UkraineConflict on twitter. As well, Reddit’s Live Thread is being constantly updated with articles from around the world.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this interview is Veronika’s description of the support she has received from her classmates here at HKDI/LWL. In her words, they ask how she is doing every day. While the situation in Ukraine remains uncertain, and depends on powerful international forces, the concern shown by the school community here is a reminder that at the individual level, people tend to seek peace and show compassion. For that, the friends and classmates of Veronika should be proud.
For her part, Veronika displays in this interview courage and maturity beyond her years. As the events in Ukraine affect her day-to-day life, and of course give cause for worry, Veronika is not looking for pity. It goes without saying that the words “It’s hard to stay calm” are the words of a composed, focused and thoughtful person. As she says at the end of this interview, all she is hoping for is a quick and civil resolution, and for peace on all sides.
The interview, recorded on March 5th, 2014, is below.
© Radio 708, 2015
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