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Students lead Vigil for Ukraine in the midst of creating Bowdoin for Ukraine club

March 1, 2024

Alex Spear
BOWDOIN FOR UKRAINE: eo Bondar ’27 and Volodymyr Zadorojny ’27 led the vigil for Ukraine to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the war and two years of increased violence.

Last Friday, the Bowdoin community gathered to commemorate both the ten-year mark of the war in Ukraine and the two years of war since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, as well as to honor the lives lost during the war. The anniversaries of the beginning of the war and the full-scale invasion occurred on February 20 and 23, respectively. The vigil was planned and hosted by Yeo Bondar ’27 and Volodymyr Zadorojny ’27 and was sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Life.

Bondar and Zadorojny separated the vigil into three components that each emphasized an emotion: sadness, anger and hope. A selection of poems were recited in both Ukrainian and English. They were chosen to reflect the three emotions and guide the attendees as they processed their own thoughts during moments of silence.

“All is not lost. There is still plenty of hope. Ukrainians—both civilians and the military—continue to fight. But now with each passing day more people are dying, and more territory is ceded because of the dwindling resources,” Zadorojny said.

While Zadorojny and Bondar agree that it is important to give people the space to reflect on and learn about the war in Ukraine, Bondar in particular hopes that people also leave with “pointed hope” and invigoration to take action.

“The main goal was to give people an opportunity to gain some clarity on what is going on, how they feel about it and what are the things that they sort of wanted to consider more and dive into more,” Bondar said. “And also [to] get a sense of having some agency and having some ability to have an impact. Especially, that’s why we were ending on a hopeful note to leave people in the end with this hope, but especially hope that’s an active hope.”

And action has been taken. Bondar and Zadorojny, with a group of 15 other students, are working toward developing the Bowdoin for Ukraine Club, in which they can offer more educational experiences to learn about the war, how art has evolved in the midst of conflict and more about Ukrainian culture and language. They have been working closely with the Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies department, including faculty members like Senior Lecturer in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies Reed Johnson.

“[We want] to give people sort of an introduction to [the dynamics and influence of this war], and then diving into more specific nuances, for example, the foreign aid and funding [of] the war, especially how it relates to the US, which is relevant to a lot of people,” Bondar said.

Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Director of Multicultural Student Life Eduardo Pazos, who attended and whose office sponsored the vigil, views it as a much-needed reminder to the campus community of the realities of the war and how they have affected individuals within the Bowdoin community. He also credits Bondar and Zadorojny’s orchestration of the event and their leadership in planning the vigil.

“[Bondar and Zadorojny’s] leadership and bringing that event together and bringing the campus together … I think it was really special,” Pazos said. “I think with everything that’s going on, we can so easily lose sight that there is an active war going on right now over Europe, that we have students who are Ukrainian or have Ukrainian family members, so members of our community are actively affected.… The poetry they read and the words that they had were really meaningful. I thought that was really special. Congratulations to them for putting all of this together.”

The Bowdoin for Ukraine Club is still in the midst of the club approval process, but they are looking forward to what’s in store. They hope to be a fully approved organization by the end of the semester.

“There were only a few people who came [to the vigil] but I was still very happy with the turnout … it’s a start, it’s a step.… I’m excited to see what happens,” Zadorojny said.


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