Distance? Barchuk proves that everyone can support Ukraine

SUPPORTING+UKRAINE.+From+reading+the+news+to+donating+to+participating+in+marches%2C+Barchuk+believes+that+support+doesn%E2%80%99t+need+to+be+hindered+by+the+distance+that+lies+between+St.+Paul+and+Ukraine.

Elle Chen

SUPPORTING UKRAINE. From reading the news to donating to participating in marches, Barchuk believes that support doesn’t need to be hindered by the distance that lies between St. Paul and Ukraine.

Eighty-one hundred and twenty-two kilometers feels distant. Distant enough for peace and war to feel disconnected, distant enough for St. Paul, Minnesota, and Kyiv, Ukraine, to be separated. But for senior Davyd Barchuk who was born and raised in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, eighty-one hundred and twenty-two kilometers is too close to home.

Although Barchuk has only returned once to Ukraine, at the age of twelve, after moving to the U.S. thirteen years ago, the recent Russia-Ukraine events haunt him in horrific ways. On brief FaceTime calls with extended family back in Ukraine, the reality of war is especially intense and aching.

Barchuk said, “I don’t know too much about what happens with them [his extended family]. I know they mostly stay in the basement for safety. One of my cousins has gone off, he’s fighting now. I think he’s away from the East front right now, which is good.”

Even away from his family that he holds dear to his heart, the irreversible damage that Russia has inflicted on Ukraine also deeply impacts him. While reading the news is bearable for Barchuk, the videos and photos of live events are not.

One of my cousins has gone off, he’s fighting now. I think he’s away from the East front right now, which is good.”

— Davyd Barchuk

“The videos, the pictures of what has happened to people… torture, rape, everything. Everything that has happened there is truly horrific. There was one video of this one family that was trying to drive away in their car. They had a white flag on their car roof and the Russian soldiers opened fire, and they killed the father. The son is crying out for his father, and then they killed the son and the dog,” Barchuk said.

While the distance between home in Ukraine and home here in the States poses challenges, Barchuk has nevertheless stayed active in showing his support. Even before the ongoing conflicts began, Barchuk had planned to give his senior speech on the 2014 Russo-Ukrainian War and the then-current Russia-Ukraine relationship. However, as the tides shifted unexpectedly, the tones and emotions within Barchuk’s speech also changed drastically; on Feb. 23, the night before his speech, Russia’s first missile strikes hit Ukraine.

Barchuk said, “I was watching that and watching the news, and so I was kind of rewriting my speech while I was looking at Twitter and seeing all the videos of people. It was nighttime in Ukraine as well, and people were watching the explosions and stuff. And so it [the speech] changed in tone because it [war] started again and happened again.”

Still, the strong emotions of confusion and pain that carried throughout Barchuk’s speech were only a starting point. Further using his voice, Barchuk also started participating in fundraisers, volunteering and marches. Most local to St. Paul Academy and Summit School, Barchuk and his Global Issues class opted to host a school-wide fundraiser for Ukraine from earlier to mid-March. A total of $815 dollars were raised.

We sing Ukrainian songs, and it’s a little hard for me to sing the songs because I’m not that good at speaking Ukrainian, but it still feels really great.”

— Davyd Barchuk

Outside of school as well, Barchuk and his family have been actively involved with events at the Ukrainian American Community Center in downtown Minneapolis. From Sunday marches to Friday fish dinners, Barchuk has dedicated his hours to supporting his home, his Ukraine.

“It’s been great. I get to carry flags and stuff. We sing Ukrainian songs, and it’s a little hard for me to sing the songs because I’m not that good at speaking Ukrainian, but it still feels really great. I’m not as involved as my mom, but she keeps having meetings and stuff. They just secured a speech at the landmark center, so I’m really excited for her,” Barchuk said.

In similar ways, small or big, Barchuk hopes that everyone at SPA, despite the eighty-one hundred and twenty-two kilometers, can be engaged too. “If anything, stay informed. It’s a good activity to show support,” Barchuk said.

From reading the news to donating to participating in marches, Barchuk believes that support doesn’t need to be hindered by the distance that lies between St. Paul and Ukraine.

For ways to support Ukraine, check out the sites below:
1) Mspmag.com
2) Twincities.com
3) Minneapolisfoundation.org
4) Ukrainian American Community Center