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Ukrainian students at Michigan State University concerned about family back home

Ukrainian students at Michigan State University concerned about family back home
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 10:22 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 11:08 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s plan to take control of eastern Ukraine is in full swing Monday.

Read: Zelenskyy: Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun

The announcement came after airstrikes in Lviv, which was once a place of refuge early in the war. The area is now filled with damage and rubble.

Ukrainians in Michigan watched the destruction in their homeland unfold, many of them being students at Michigan State University.

At least one student has immediate family in Lviv. They’re asking for people to keep the situation in Ukraine at the top of their mind.

“I woke up to my mom saying Lviv was bombed and then having this horrible, horrible gut feeling,” said Neonila Kossak.

She’s a law student at MSU whose entire family is in Lviv. Monday morning, Kossak received a message that startled her out of bed. Luckily, everyone was OK, but the constant worrying still plagues her.

“There are days when they don’t pick up and those days are scary. We just have to kind of convince ourselves that they’re probably just away from the phone or they’re in a shelter and they can’t pick up,” Kossak said. “So, it’s just having those mental conversations with yourself time and time again for these past 50, I think, 54 days it’s been now?”

“Thankfully, from what I know so far, my family is OK,” said Tina Deychakiwsky.

She’s another Ukrainian student dealing with the stress of war. While most of her family has fled the country, she still has some relatives in the middle of the conflict. She stands with Zelenskyy and believes her people should never go along with the demands of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“There’s been a lot of tragedy, but it’s almost a chance to finally take back everything that is Ukraine’s,” Deychakiwsky said. “If we give up our eastern part of Ukraine, it’s just going to keep getting worse and that’s what Russia wants.”

Kossak and Deychakiwsky are asking for Americans to support the Ukrainian people, regardless of how big or small.

“Wearing a little Ukrainian pin, putting ribbons on your car, little things go a long way to spread awareness and keep people talking about it because we can’t look away,” Kossak said.

“I’ve had some people reaching out to me saying, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ or ‘I don’t know if I’m overstepping,’” Deychakiwsky said. “If you’re showing support in any way or reaching out to a friend and asking how they are, you are not overstepping. The most you can do is ask questions and educate yourself.”

Kossak said there are more students just like her at MSU dealing with loved ones caught up in the war. Many of them have banded together to be there for one another as the war rages on.

A dance is being held at the Meridian Mall to raise money Saturday for Ukraine. The event runs 4-10 p.m. There is no admission charge, but guests are asked to donate money.

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