Slovak exchange student studying in Craig keeping wary eye on Ukraine
Even though the Russian invasion of Ukraine is happening on the other side of the world, the effects can be felt by some in Craig — in more ways than speculating on rising fuel and energy prices.
Hana is an exchange student visiting Moffat County from Slovakia, which shares a western border with Ukraine, and has had to watch the conflict in her home region while being here in the United States.
“It’s scary, I am not going to lie,” said Hana, who asked not to publish her last name due to confidentiality and safety agreements with her host exchange organization. “No one from Slovakia expected this. There was a problem in Ukraine for a long time — but I don’t think we expected what is happening now.”
While the conflict is currently contained within Ukraine’s borders, the reality of the conflict in the region is deeply felt in Slovakia and surrounding countries.
“I feel bad. People are dying, a lot of people are dying,” Hana said.
Hana said she is still able to communicate with friends and family in Slovakia, and right now most people are able to continue living their regular lives. The main thing that has changed is that they are now tuned in and keeping a close watch on the situation.
“It’s in every newspaper and every TV show in Slovakia. It’s very intense,” Hana said.
There are a lot of different opinions about the cause and possible courses of the conflict in Ukraine, but no one can predict with much certainty where the situation will go from here. Most people are paying close attention in anticipation of what is going to happen next.
“It can be one bad move, and it can come over the border from Ukraine. Everyone is checking the situation. Everyone in Slovakia is living their own life, except for the people who are trying to help,” Hana said.
Hana herself found it too hard to be constantly checking in with the news and had to unplug from it to stay calm. She had been following the news on a national level while also following social media accounts of individuals who were posting updates from urban centers in Ukraine, where many people were having to flee to safety.
“Beautiful buildings have been destroyed, people’s houses have been destroyed, hospitals are destroyed,” Hana said.
Residents from Slovakia and other European countries who are able to help are aiding in getting women, children and animals out of Ukraine safely. Initially Ukrainians were being told not to leave but many more vulnerable individuals sought safety in surrounding countries. Both residential and agricultural animals are being transported out of the county by volunteers and rescue agencies.
While vulnerable populations are seeking safety elsewhere, many from Slovakia and surrounding countries are traveling to Ukraine with supplies and emergency relief efforts. In the midst of the turmoil, communities are coming together to help one another.
“Just be kind and help,” Hana said.
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