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Speaker with family in Ukraine talks to Ray High School students

Posted at 6:19 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 19:19:07-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hearing about the Russia-Ukraine crisis on TV or the internet is one thing, but listening about it from someone who has family living through it can be more immersive.

Students at Ray High School in Corpus Christi got the chance to listen to Dr. Khrystyna Holynska talk about the conflict in Ukraine. Holynska lived in Kyiv, Ukraine for 20 years and moved to the U.S. in 2020. She is currently an assistant policy researcher for the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California. The RAND Corporation is a political think tank that fights for worldly public policy solutions.

“Russia is not prepared to lose. This has to be taken into consideration. Ukraine is not prepared and will not concede in any way,” she told Ray High School students in the International Baccalaureate Club.

Once a month the World Affairs Council of South Texas brings a guest speaker to the International Baccalaureate program.

Twelfth-grade student in the program, Laura Li, said the crisis feels like it’s happening far away, but said Dr. Holynska really humanized it and helped her understand it more.

“I think that we’re sheltered enough that like it doesn’t really compute and doesn’t really process as an impactful thing,” Li said.

“It’s very hard to see people who were building their lives just leave with nothing,” Holynska told students during her speech.

She said people in Ukraine don’t necessarily know whether they’ll go back and under what circumstances.

“The people lost their understanding, their feeling of time. They just count their days and their days of conflict,” Holynska said.

Holynska said cyberattacks were not as persistent as many had predicted and also touched on other topics like Russia’s military, their potential use of biological weapons and their spread of misinformation to their own citizens.

Twelfth-grade international baccalaureate student and student body president, Roopa Bindingnavele, said she was especially shocked to hear about the misinformation Holynska said the Russians are spreading in their own country about the conflict.

“It was super interesting to hear more about the propaganda and like kind of the way that Russia is selling what’s happening to their own people,” Bindingnavele said.

Senior, Daniel Gardiner, said he has a friend in Ukraine, but unfortunately he lost touch with him because of the crisis. He said he is learning about how Vladimir Putin’s intentions relate to Joseph Stalin’s in history class.

His message to those in Ukraine, especially students that are his age, is that it may be hard for students in the U.S. like him to understand the conflict, but they are trying their best to understand and help.

“We feel for you, we support you, and above everything else we want you to be okay,” Gardiner said.