MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — Kyiv, Ukraine and Madison, S.D. might not seem like they have a whole lot in common at first glance. But a college student at Dakota State University connects them.
19-year-old Alex Rachynska is studying biology at DSU; she’s originally from Kyiv. Her family is in Ukraine, and Friday afternoon on DSU’s campus she shared with KELOLAND News how it’s felt to be here while war unfolds there.
“I would say the first few weeks I didn’t go to classes because I just could not concentrate, I was feeling really bad,” Rachynska said.
A Ukrainian flag is featured on the campus of DSU in Madison. It’s common for college students to stay in touch with family when away at school. Rachynska makes sure her family isn’t dead.
“Every day I wake up and the first thing I do is to check if they’re alive because I never know, I read the news, like I’m trying to keep in touch with everyone,” Rachynska said.
So far, Rachynska’s family has survived.
“Usually I’m calling them, and they’re trying to calm me down, and they say, ‘Hey, we are doing okay,’ like don’t worry about us so much, so but still like, it’s complicated because you never know what will happen tomorrow,” Rachynska said.
On Friday in Washington, D.C., the Ukrainian prime minister met with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We’re really grateful to you and to your people, to your country for support of us before the face of this bloody war from Russian side,” prime minister Denys Shmyhal said. “So they really make atrocities, they make war crimes in our country, but we have support of all civilized world. We feel it.”
“I would say I’m angry,” Rachynska said. “I’m angry for the things that is going on, because what Russia is doing is just terrible.”
According to the high commissioner for human rights with the United Nations, there has been “a horror story of violations perpetrated against civilians.” Here at DSU, Rachynska puts the struggle in an international context.
“I think it’s important for people to know that Ukraine is not fighting only for itself,” Rachynska said. “Ukraine is fighting for the whole world, for the whole humanity.”