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Ani Kokobobo
Department of Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies

KU welcomes Ukrainian scholars following fundraising efforts

Tue, 11/22/2022

LAWRENCE — Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the University of Kansas began working on several initiatives to support academic peers in Ukraine. One such endeavor, led by the Department of Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies, sought funding to support graduate students and faculty whose education and work were disrupted by the invasion.

The fundraising efforts during March and April 2022 were aided by KU Endowment, KU International Affairs, KU Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES), the Department of Theatre & Dance, the School of Music, Kansas Public Radio and Maceli’s Catering and Banquet Hall. Those fundraising efforts and the subsequent matching funds from the Office of Research, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Office of Graduate Studies and CREES allowed for four graduate students and one faculty member to be funded for the 2022-23 academic year.

“It has been a real pleasure to welcome the Ukrainian graduate students and our colleague Dr. (Olga) Kyrylovna, based in film and media studies. From teaching Ukrainian at Fort Leavenworth to helping us decolonize the curriculum around our gateway course to the region, to assisting with our existing lecture classes on a number of topics (from Soviet cinema to the Slavic vampire), these Ukrainian academics have brought tremendous energy to the work we do at KU,” said Ani Kokobobo, chair of Slavic, German & Eurasian studies.

KU has a long history and relationship with Ukraine from the early days of what is now the Department of Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies. The department has regularly offered Ukrainian language instruction as well as study abroad in Ukraine. The department has hosted numerous visiting scholars, Fulbright teaching assistants and graduate students from Ukraine. The department is also host to two tenured Ukrainian professors, Oleksandra Wallo and Vitaly Chernetsky.

Kokobo said the department is thankful to everyone in the Lawrence and KU communities who helped contribute to this effort and have helped support these individuals while they are in Lawrence. Below are insights into the students and the faculty member who have joined the KU community this fall:

Andriyana Baran

Andriyana BaranI come from the little town of Novoiavorivsk in western Ukraine. I got my undergraduate degree in Ukrainian language and literature and master’s in applied linguistics from the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv in Ukraine. I am especially interested in learning about effective teaching approaches for both first and second languages and developing language literacy in bilingual learners. 

Before coming to KU as a graduate student, I taught Ukrainian to foreigners at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv as well as Ukrainian and English languages at a secondary school in the Dnipro region of Ukraine as Teach for Ukraine fellow. I spent the 2020-2021 academic year at KU as a Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant. During that year, I had a chance to learn a lot from the professors I worked with. I am delighted to continue studying at KU and grow professionally.

My first impression of KU in 2020 was, "Wow, this school is so welcoming!" This impression has stayed the same so far in 2022. I still experience KU as a very professional, welcoming, proactive and supportive school. I am grateful for every day I spend here!

Marta Puhach

Marta PuhachI am a researcher from Ukraine. I have been studying social and political science at Ostroh Academy, which is historically considered to be the first institution of higher education in Ukraine. Also, I earned a master's degree in East-European studies from Warsaw University in Poland.  

My fields of interest cover a broad spectrum of topics, such as the Ukrainian revolutions of 2004 and 2014 and the main factors of authority change in both cases, international aid to Ukraine and the course of reforms in my country, the refugee and IDP situation after 2014, etc. In 2018 I co-authored a book on Russian propaganda, “Wars and Words. Ukraine Facing Kremlin Propaganda.” Currently, as a GTA at the University of Kansas, I teach the Ukrainian language course and co-teach a course titled “Understanding Russia and Eastern Europe.”  

I believe that after the unprecedented violence of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there is a need for reevaluation and restructuring of the field of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies in Western countries. I reckon that one of the primary tasks today is creating a new paradigm for research and teaching about the region. Developing a critical approach and shifting from the Russian perspective toward studying the diverse cultures and societies in Eastern Europe and Northern Eurasia will help the public and policymakers perceive the region differently. Further analysis of Ukraine's strategic importance and remarkable resilience is vital, as well as an evaluation of the consequences of war. 

I am grateful to the University of Kansas for involving the Ukrainian specialists in the processes mentioned above. I am confident that with the combined efforts of the academic community, Russian, East-European and Eurasian Studies in western countries would substantially contribute to developing new approaches to safety and policymaking in the region.

Oksana Vykhopen

Oksana VykhopenI come from the village of Zhovtantsi in the suburbs of Lviv, Ukraine. I did my undergraduate studies at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, where I graduated from the Translation Studies program. My main focus of interest is in linguistics and translation studies. In particular, I am interested in how machine translation works and how Slavic languages are incorporated into that process. For now, I plan to focus on further learning about Slavic linguistics and literatures to better understand how these languages work and have been formed throughout the ages to come to the present stage of development. Yet, in the future, I would love to focus more on translation theory around Slavic languages, but there is still much more to learn! Thanks to KU, I believe I am on the right track since the professors here provide the means to become a professional in the field.

Antin Zaiarniuk

Antin ZaiarniukI am 22 years old and am studying Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the University of Kansas. I got my undergraduate degree in international relations at Lviv National University of Ivan Franko, where I was also studying for my master’s degree. When the war in Ukraine broke out, I was in the Netherlands on an Erasmus+ exchange program. Since I couldn’t go back to Ukraine, I saw that KU was offering GTA positions for students from Ukraine and I decided to take that opportunity. I’m really glad that I received the position, because I like this university a lot. The campus is cozy and beautiful, and the professors are good and pleasant people. In the future, I would like to work for international organizations, such as a branch of the UN, OSCE or the EU. If I don’t succeed there, I could try working as a political analyst.

Olga Kyrylova

Olga KyrylovaI come from the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, where I was born and spent most of my life, from BA to the full professor. My home university in Ukraine is the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, which was the first liberal arts educational institution in Ukraine from 17th century and was revived in the post-Soviet era based on the American educational system.

I had also spent time in the United Kingdom where I earned my master's degree from the University of Cambridge. I am a cultural researcher and a film scholar. While at KU, I am proud to join the team of regular stars in my current department, which is film and media studies. From the very beginning I collaborated with the Slavic, German and Eurasian Studies department and CREES, which are both doing immense work in support of Ukrainian studies and Ukrainian scholars. The KU academic community seems incredibly friendly and helpful. The most unusual thing I have loved about Lawrence and KU are the carillon concerts at Campanille (World War II memorial) every Sunday at 5 p.m.



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