Gustavus celebrates Ukrainian culture

Amelia Dewberry-

“Cuisine & Courage: A Celebration of Ukrainian Spirit” will be taking place today, Friday the 23rd, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the CIE. The event aims to spread the truth about what is happening in Ukraine and give Ukrainian voices a platform to be heard.

Assistant Professor of Business and Economics Vita Faychuk said that one of the purposes of this event is to “… share Ukrainian food and talk about the courage of Ukrainian people… These past two years Ukraine has been an inspiration. It has demonstrated that underdogs can stand up to bullies, even enormous ones. Tyrants make up big lies to justify their acts and force others into submission through terror. Ukrainians have shown that lies can be exposed and terror can be resisted. This gives hope for all the oppressed or mistreated people everywhere,” Faychuk said.

First-year Dasha Shyroka came to the United States as an exchange student when she was 15, and couldn’t go home because of the war, so she now goes to college here. For her, it’s important to share Ukrainian culture and this part of herself with others. Shyroka wants to “remind people that the war is still going on and our people are still dying.” Since the news coverage of the war has slowed down, many people no longer know or care about what is happening in Ukraine anymore.

“For me personally, this event is an opportunity to honor the courage of the Ukrainian people and contribute to the global effort to uphold the core values of humanity.” Faychuk said. “The Russian government is lying all the time and the degree of their propaganda is unthinkable for most Western observers so one of the purposes of this event is to spread awareness”.

To share the truth, the event will feature “firsthand accounts of what different Ukrainians have experienced over not just the last two years, but ten years,” Annalise Rivas, Visiting Assistant Professor in Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures said. Shyroka and Faychuk will be sharing their stories and Rivas will be reading on behalf of a Ukrainian colleague. These heartbreaking stories will bring awareness to the inhumanity faced by thousands in Ukraine.

There will also be three different recipes of homemade borscht, cheese blintzes, Ukrainian kielbasa, Ukrainian bread, salad, and candies available to try. Rivas commented that Gustavus musicians will play songs of hope, songs calling for justice, and songs from Ukraine as a different way to tell a story.

Before coming to this festival, people should know that they will be talking about the war, traumatic events, violence, and difficult realities. Mental health resources will be shared at the start for people to access during the event.

Faychuk shared a few ways that people can support those affected by the war: “First of all, educate yourself about the history of Ukraine, the true history and not the one that is spread by Russian propaganda.” Secondly, people should recognize that “evil is not somewhere far, far away” and Russian poison is here in Minnesota. People can support Ukraine with donations, advocacy groups, or by telling their U.S. representatives to vote for the bill giving aid to Ukraine.

It’s important to “be aware and understanding that there are members of our community who are affected personally every day by this experience,” Rivas said.

The organizers of the event would like people to take away inspiration for action, not just for Ukraine but for any kind of injustice “because if they choose to ignore something, it can turn against them,” Faychuk said, “Evil thrives on ignorance and indifference.” Faychuk likes Immanuel Kant’s philosophy to act as if your action became the universal rule.

“We need all work to restore justice, punish the evil. If we don’t punish the evil, it will spread, dictators and all perpetrators around the world will feel emboldened. And we have already seen a surge in violence around the world in 2023,” Faychuk said.

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