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Students gather on Founders Green in solidarity with Ukraine. Photo by Sofia Malaspina '26

Vigil for Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Russian Invasion

On Friday, around thirty students, faculty, and staff gathered on Founders Green in solidarity with Ukraine. Vigil organizer and Ukrainian international student, Dan Shudrenko ‘26, stood on Founder’s steps, greeting his friends and professors. 

“Tomorrow will mark two years since the full-scale invasion,” Shudrenko explained. However, he stated that the Russo-Ukrainian War started 10 years ago with the annexation of Crimea, and the “ethnocide and genocide of Ukrainians was happening over centuries.” 

Shudrenko highlighted the repression of Ukrainian artists and public intellectuals, hundreds of whom have been killed for writing and singing in Ukrainian. He then recited “Testament,” a poem by prominent Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, in both his native language and English. 

Vigil organizer Dan Shudrenko ‘26. Photo by Sofia Malaspina ’26

Russia annexed Crimea when Shudrenko was just ten years old. Refugees sheltered in his hometown. Then, two years ago, the war forced him to leave Ukraine. 

“On February 24th, 2022, I woke up from the sound of the bombs and my apartment block shaken. I left my home and all of my childhood memories, never seeing it again.” 

Shudrenko explained that almost every Ukrainian knows someone who has been killed or severely injured by Russian forces. His friend was killed by a Russian missile in a public square representing Ukrainian freedom, which Shudrenko would regularly visit. 

“Yet,” he acknowledged, “my story is one of the brightest in Ukraine; I’m privileged to be here and fortunate to be safe.” Shudrenko expressed gratitude towards the support he’s received from Haverford faculty and staff as a Ukrainian student. However, he wished more of the Haverford community joined the vigil. “As a school in general, I’m not sure how people are really concerned about Ukraine,” he remarked.

This feeling of neglect was expressed by multiple Haverford students. When asked if Haverford is doing enough to support Ukraine, Viktor Merkulov ‘26, replied, “Definitely not. Absolutely not. Everyone completely forgot about it after a couple of months.” 

Merkulov, a Russian immigrant, said he helped organize the event to “show support for the right side of this in history, which is for the Ukrainian people who are being constantly oppressed and taken over by the Russians.” 

The best way students can support Ukraine, Merkulov stated, is by being aware. “Talking about it is the easiest step. Continue showing up.” 

A table with Ukrainian flags, sweets, and nonprofit resources. Photo by Sofia Malaspina ’26

Adhya Satish ‘26 echoed Merkulov’s statement, advocating for Haverford students to perform small, doable actions in support of Ukraine and Ukrainian students. “Dan is a good friend of mine, and I would always come and support him. But also, the fact that there are so many terrible things going on in the world, and there’s no direct way [students] can support or help, but being able to come show support to a friend and come donate, even a few dollars, would make a big difference.”

A table set up in front of Founders Hall was lined with Ukrainian flags, bags of traditional Ukrainian sweets, and QR codes with links to donate to a nonprofit providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine. After Shudrenko spoke, attendees gathered to taste Ukrainian chocolates and candies, thanking Shudrenko for his work. 

Putting the war in perspective, Shudrenko reminded Haverford community members, “The war is not just some sad, distant news. It’s the broken life of average people, like you and me.”

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