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Picture of hands folded into a heart along with a link to the Help for Ukraine 2024 campaign PayPal link.

"We are not alone"

Upholding a Promise to a Ukrainian Partner

In May of 2023, Clark University hosted visiting scholar Svitlana Ustychenko, the executive director of the Lingua Hub Language Center at Cherkasy State Business College in Ukraine. During her stay, Ustychenko led the presentation “Teaching During Wartime”, in which she shared first hand experiences of how Ukrainian students, teachers, staff, and their families had been affected by the invasion of Russia. When asked how the Clark community could support the students, Ustychenko expressed a wish for online classes and lectures to be available to her college students. She said that this would not only distract them from the horrors of war, but also help them continue to learn life skills despite their interrupted education and to improve their English for future international opportunities. “Show them that we are not alone-that there are people who support us”.

In the year since Ustychenko’s visit, the situation in Ukraine has only worsened with the civilian death toll now passing 10,500 (as of Feb 2024). Yet in spite of this incredible darkness, Cherkasy State Business College has become a beacon of light, using the resources it has to help organize volunteer efforts for its entire community. The efforts include organizing vehicle repair services, assembling care packages of necessities and candies for wounded soldiers in hospitals, and being a hub of communication to deliver messages and provide aid to family members of students and staff fighting on the front lines. Their courage and resilience in the face of inhumane circumstances are beyond inspiring, and though online classes are far from sufficient aid for what the students and people of CSBC need, Clark University is upholding its promise to continue to support our partners overseas through virtual education.

This February, the American Language and Culture Institute held a series of educational workshops for both the students and staff of CSBC based on the questionnaire responses of what each group wanted to learn. From their responses, the plan was to divide the lectures up into one session for the staff and two sessions for the students.

For the education staff, Director Ercan Balci led a talk about how to best support students in their international applications and how to navigate the world of AI. Special attention in this workshop was focused on how to write effective recommendation letters and to better at international programs and scholarship opportunities. For the students, Academic Assistant Nico Gareca led a discussion about life as an American university student and how to navigate issues of culture shock and identity. It was an engaging series of workshops, with students and teachers participating fully and intently in the discussions despite the at times inconvenience of the medium of video call.


Picture of a zoom call between Ercan Balci and the staff of CSBC

Picture of a zoom call between Nico Gareca and the students of CSBC

The feedback afterward was very positive from both students and faculty. The students in particular expressed curiosity to continue with additional sessions, hoping to speak with current students at Clark and learn more about traditions at Clark (next time we discuss Spree Day?).

In her follow up with the ALCI staff, Ustychenko closed her praise by saying “In my opinion, this is one of the really good examples of how international cooperation in education matters for the development and improvement of both teachers and students.” We look forward to future meaningful discussions with our friends and colleagues in Ukraine, and hope that we can continue use our resources to support them however we can.

To learn more about Svitlana Ustychenko’s first visit to Clark University, please read this ClarkNow article to see photos, more quotes, and links to more resources about the War in Ukraine.

If you are interested in learning more about Cherkasy State Business College and their continued organizing efforts to support the war effort in Ukraine, please visit their website here where you will find many articles in written in English and Ukrainian. One article in particular that the community of Clark University may find interesting features a discussion on genocide led by our very own Ken MacLean of the Strassler Center of Holocaust Studies. That article may be found here, and thank you to Dr. MacLean for sharing your expertise.

If you are interested in donating to help CSBC in their efforts to support their community, any and all monetary donations are welcome through PayPal through their email .


Promotion of the Ukraine 2024 Paypal link.

Finally, we thank the students and faculty of Cherkasy State Business College who participated in our talks. To the staff Svitalana, Irina I, Alyona, Maria, Elena, Alexandra, Irina P, Tamila, and Oksana, and to the students Roman, Daniil, Dmytro, Fedia, Maria, Max, Sasha, Igor, Matvii, Michael, Oleksandr, Vlada B, Vlada H, Sofia, Yevgeniya, Ivan, and Yuriy, we thank you.

Slava Ukraini.

Slava Ukraini.