This blog post was written by Tom Tokovyi, a final year biochemistry student. Tom was brought up in Bila, Tserkva , Kviv region, Ukraine, and spoke at a recent event – War in Ukraine: past, present and future – held at Bristol SU in March 2022. The aim of the event was to help us understand more about Ukraine, the current situation and how we can offer support.
“Perseverance – this is the first word that comes into my mind when I think about my home country.”
It is hard to find a person nowadays who has not heard about the current situation in Ukraine. Nevertheless, not everyone knows about the deep-rooted history of the Ukrainian nation and the major events that led to the full-scale war with Russia. As a Ukrainian studying at Bristol, I felt a strong sense of duty to inform my friends and peers about the current situation at home, and share my knowledge of Ukrainian culture and history.
Together with my friends, I organised a large-scale event War in Ukraine: past, present and future which was attended by more than 250 students and staff. The event was divided into several parts which consisted of the talk – Past and present of Ukraine – a discussion panel with professors about The future of Ukraine as well as a Q&A with the audience.
The main message I wanted to deliver was about the strength and perseverance of my beloved nation. Ukraine has faced many challenges looking back at its history. Repression, artificial famine “Holodomor”, two World Wars, the explosion of the Chornobyl reactor and many others. Always being a part of another country, it took more than a thousand years for Ukrainians to fight for their own independence. Despite all the difficulties, the Ukrainian nation managed to preserve its unique culture, language, and traditions. Most importantly, Ukrainians are very patriotic and have a strong sense of community that will allow them to overcome many other challenges including the current war with Russia.
The second part of the event was a discussion panel with Professor Edmunds and Professor Juncos from the Global Insecurities Centre at Bristol about the future of Ukraine and what the world can do to support Ukrainians. Before the event, we asked the students around the University about the topics they wanted to hear in the discussion which included questions such as ‘How and when do you think the war will end?’, ‘Should we be worried about Russian nuclear weapons?’, ‘What are the risks of spill-over effects to other countries?‘ and others. The Professors provided thorough answers, highlighting their expertise in civil-military relations and the EU’s conflict prevention. The event ended with a Q&A from the audience with more insightful questions about the conflict.
The main takeaway from the event was that everyone can make a difference to the current situation in Ukraine. Be it volunteering in your local communities, donating goods, hosting refugees or simply speaking the truth. It is important to fight the inequalities together and stand up for what is right.
Glory to Ukraine!
Tom would like to thank all his friends who helped him to organise this event including Carlos Shanka, Freya Gill-Stevens, Muazam Tahir, Krystina Hynda, Issac Aoki, Olga Nechyporuk, Sofiya Pizyur, Mike Holkins, Professor Tim Edmunds and Professor Ana Juncos.
Find out more about how the University is supporting staff and students affected by the war in Ukraine.