Ukrainian Members of the Otterbein Community Reflect on Independence Day

Posted Aug 26, 2022

This week, Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day, marking the young democracy’s independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. This year, there was a dark cloud over the day, as it also marked six months since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Megan Chawansky In Ukraine
Associate Professor Megan Chawansky in Ukraine

“As the daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant and a proud Ukrainian American, this Independence Day brings many emotions,” shared Associate Professor Megan Chawansky, Department of Health and Sport Sciences.

Marina Ourshansky Eller ’98 was born in Ukraine and graduated from Otterbein, where she majored in nursing and sociology. She also taught nursing clinicals for Otterbein from 2009-2012. She still lives in the United States.

“I feel like it’s kind of symbolic since the Independence Day marks independence from the former USSR, and Russia was a huge part of. Hopefully this Independence Day will be the last celebrated under the Russian invasion,” Eller said. “I hope that the Russian invasion will be over soon and the world will help Ukraine rebuild and reestablish.”

For the people of the Ukrainian diaspora who must watch the war from abroad, their friends and family who live in Ukraine are never far from their thoughts.

“I have distant family and numerous friends there,” said Eller. “It’s very disturbing especially when I am on the phone with my friends or distant relatives, and they have to hang up and go in the basement to hide because they hear the warning sirens.”

 Chawansky traveled to Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Poltava in Ukraine as part of a group of Americans on a sport diplomacy trip in 2019. She recently connected with the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio and two Otterbein alums of Ukrainian heritage to find kinship as she worries for her friends.

“As the local host for an Otterbein exchange student from Ukraine in 2019, I am worried about her safety as she has been forced to flee Kyiv once again. As someone who was able to travel to Ukraine in 2019, I am worried about many friends who are unable or unwilling to flee,” Chawansky said.

Eller asks people to “support the efforts of Ukrainian military, support the businesses, large and small, that are trying to survive, and support the civilians who have to continue living and raising their children in this very unstable situation.”

“Please keep Ukraine, the Ukrainian diaspora in central Ohio, and these members of the Otterbein community in mind,” said Chawanksy.

What can you do? 

Chawansky said supporting Ukraine through actions as small as a social media post means a lot to the people of Ukraine. If you want to share your support on social media, Chawansky has offered some ideas:  

  • If you are in central Ohio, follow the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio on Facebook, Instagram, or online to stay up on events. 
  • Share the words Slava Ukraini or Слава Україні, which means “Glory to Ukraine!” It is a Ukrainian national salute, a symbol of Ukrainian sovereignty and resistance, and the official salute of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 
  • Popular hashtags of support fir Ukraine include: 
  • #StandWithUkraine 
  • #SaveUkraineNow 
  • #IndependenceInMyHeart 
  • #USLovesUA 

Featured Image: Flag of Ukraine. From Wikimedia Commons. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.