Effects of the Russia-Ukraine war felt thousands of miles away


As the war in Ukraine continues to rage, the lives of many students are disrupted. With families from all over Europe represented in the student body, a battle within the hearts of many students is also being waged while the fighting occurs in Ukraine.

Families flee in masses, overwhelming nearby countries. Messages are monitored and media censored as Russia goes off the grid. Childhoods explode into shrapnel and ugly, devastating craters as bombs tear through beautiful landmarks throughout Ukraine. The war is here. And the truth is devastating. 

“I used to go [to Ukraine] every summer,” Anastasia Karasev (12) said. “My mom’s whole family is up there, and it was honestly amazing, [but now] every time I see it on TV, it’s like I’ve been to those places and seeing it destroyed and hospitals bombed and children’s schools being bombed, it just really hurts.”

Feb. 24, 2022 — the day the world erupted into chaos. While nations scramble to decide how to help Ukraine and punish Russia’s actions, one effect is clear: although this war is over 5,000 miles away, it still grips the hearts and futures of many in the student body, especially those with family in these warzones and the surrounding areas.   

“I have pretty much over three-quarters of my family in Poland right now, and currently, they’re receiving a lot of refugees from Ukraine,” Hugh Ferguson (11) said. “The whole situation has been kind of stressful to my family in Poland because they’re worried [that] if Russia’s going to take Ukraine and they’re mobilizing on the Polish border too, then what are they going to do next? Who says they’re going to stop at just Ukraine.”

However, even Russian citizens cannot escape the dangers of the war, even in the United States. Those with Russian family or citizenship now have limited communication with friends close to them — even if they can speak with their loved ones in Russia, there is a constant danger that one misspoken word could land them in prison or blacklisted.

“My mom has some Russian friends, classmates that she grew up with, but they’re not allowed to talk really, especially over text, because they are probably, by the Russian government, being watched, and if they’re found out communicating … about the war, they’re going to be persecuted for up to 25 years and fined and blacklisted,” Jacqueline Krupinski (12) said. “It does scare [my mom] because she still is a citizen of Russia, and she does want to make sure that she’s being safe still … she definitely does still have to keep a mind out because she’s still a U.S. citizen and Russian, so she wants to still obey both sides.”

As Russia threatens the security of families even in the United States, it devastates those in the forefront of the conflict. Each day, students with family in Ukraine remark on a lingering fear — the impending doom from every call, every text, wondering if this could be the last moment their loved ones live. 

“It’s been really strange; we have a family group chat, … so it’s really strange when they wake up every day, they’ll update us and be like, ‘Oh, well it’s quiet,’ or ‘Oh, I heard some bombing,’ Karasev said. “[It’s] a constant dread of just people I love being hurt.”

While this conflict looms overhead and many students fear the lack of control they have over the situation — whether the war continues longer and more lives are lost, whether Russia decides to push further into other nations’ territories, whether a larger war erupts starting from this one — one of the best and only things to do now is to stand united and support each other. Whether having family in Poland flooded by refugees, fearing each conversation in Russia capable of bringing years of prison or living in the midst of all the terror and violence going on in Ukraine, fear still looms over the heads of many, but one of the greatest combatants to fear is unity.  

“I would say for the people of America [the best thing to do is] to help out and come together as a country ourselves and not bicker within it [and] start pointing hands and fingers … because when we can’t unite that’s when it starts harming everyone else,” Krupinski said