Ukraine Conflict Prompts Compassion

Plymouth State’s close-knit community is responding to Ukraine’s ordeal with support, empathy, and ways to come together. 

“I think this war affects all of us,” says Inna Horbovtsova ’23, a Ukrainian national and peer advisor in the University’s Global Engagement Office (GEO). She appreciates the University’s efforts to help educate people about what’s happening. “I am delighted that more people are becoming aware of Ukraine and its wonderful culture,” she says.  

in March, the Caring Campus Coalition, Catholic Campus Ministry, Counseling Center, GEO, Student Government Association, and Student Life sponsored a painting activity in the HUB’s Fireplace Lounge to express artistic messages of peace, followed by an outdoor Candlelight Vigil at the University’s Peace Garden. A listing of aid organizations and foundations to make donations to was circulated, as was one of mental health resources for those seeking assistance. 

Bret Kulakovich, coordinator of the Draper and Maynard Makerspace, has opened the facility’s lounge as a place for members of the campus community to share and process the experience. “As a Slavic person, I felt the immediate need to do this and as a humanist to extend it to all, whether people need to talk or don’t want to talk,” he says. “It is important that we can go somewhere and not be alone. This is all so alienating, so disorienting, and being away from home—some further than others—only compounds the feeling.” 

Horbovtsova is studying graphic design with a minor in marketing and her many campus involvements include club memberships and work for the Museum of the White Mountains. She has received several forms of support, including a care package from administrators and many words of encouragement from fellow students, faculty, and staff. “A lot of people have reached out to me and asked how my friends and family are doing,” she says. “The whole community at Plymouth State is very supportive.” 

Student Government Association Josh Chandler ’23 is one of the many individuals who have reached out. Speaking at the vigil, Chandler touched on the importance of remembering how we treat others in our daily lives. “While our actions may not directly impact what is going on across the world, we can enhance and better our own community,” he said. “Treat each other with respect and remember that although we are individuals, we are also a collective body of peers. Be there for your friends, reach out to them and check on them. Use kind words on social media and try to do one good thing daily.” 

Catholic Campus Minister Kathy Tardif spoke to the vigil’s significance despite Plymouth’s great distance from the war. “This gathering and our prayers are allowing us to support the people of Ukraine, who need to know that they are being supported and not alone,” she said. “Knowing that they are not alone, that people everywhere are with them in spirit, gives them the ability to do what they must do, to endure unbelievable trials. We hope that peace and justice will come—very soon—to both the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia.”