Feb. 24, 2022, was a normal day in the lab for me, with a proposal critique panel and meetings – nothing incredible. I direct a huge team and have a management role with the UCI National Fuel Cell Exploration Middle, so every single hour of the working day is accounted for. But this “regular” day for good changed my lifestyle – along with the lives of thousands and thousands of people today about the environment – as Russia invaded Ukraine, shelling its major metropolitan areas Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Instantly following looking at the surprising news on Television, I messaged my cousin in Kharkiv to consider to understand what was occurring on the floor there. It was 4 a.m. in Ukraine, and her family was collecting belongings to relocate to a safer put. Disoriented and unprepared, they had not observed the war coming, just like a lot of of us in this article in the U.S. My cousin expended the future four months hiding in a basement when staying shelled each working day. Her spouse was in Russian-occupied territory with his mom and dad for that interval, and their daughter managed to escape to Poland 10 days later. They still have not noticed each other. This is a standard scenario for several people who have managed to survive the Russian war on Ukraine.

Throughout the first 7 days, I went to mattress and woke up looking at and looking at information in disbelief: looking at cities remaining wrecked, civilians killed, young children displaced, men and women obtaining shelter in basements and prepare stations. It all felt surreal. I had visited Ukraine in August 2021 in advance of the festivities marking its 30 yrs of independence. It was a superb time looking at the money, Kyiv, making ready for the celebration seeing the churches and other 1,000-12 months-aged historical destinations all renovated hearing the Ukrainian language just about everywhere and just enjoying the very good climate and enjoyable for the duration of a tranquil time.

Being with each other with household and buddies in western Ukraine reassured me that times were very good in the country and that individuals have been hopeful for a shiny long run. At the time, there was a controversy around a armed forces parade that the president had planned to celebrate Independence Working day, as we Ukrainians do not look at ourselves a militaristic country, and getting a parade to showcase all our armed forces machines seemed out of area. In August, couple of predicted that the war in Luhansk and the Donbas initiated by separatists and backed by Russia several years earlier would distribute to other components of Ukraine.


“As the days handed by, I felt the

will need to do one thing to help fellow

Ukrainians, and an strategy arrived to

head to host lecturers here at UCI.”

– Iryna Zenyuk


I am Ukrainian American. I immigrated right here at the age of 15 and turned a U.S. citizen soon thereafter. I done all my bigger instruction in the U.S. Until my early 20s, I lived in a Ukrainian diaspora local community in New York City, participating in routines this kind of as yearly festivals and church retreats. My mother and brother however stay there, and I get to take a look at them a number of occasions a calendar year. I have not misplaced touch with my Ukrainian roots: I speak the language fluently and try to take part in Ukrainian actions anytime attainable.

This war, like no other, has managed to unite Ukrainians all about the planet. In the previous a number of weeks, I have satisfied a lot more Ukrainians at UCI than through the whole three several years I’ve been right here as a professor.

As the days handed by, I felt the will need to do a little something to help fellow Ukrainians, and an thought came to head to host lecturers listed here at UCI. Tiny did I know that the college is a chief in this spot and has a heritage of this sort of humanitarian work.

I was launched to Jane Newman, a UCI professor of comparative literature who founded the campus Students at Danger program back again in 2017. Considering that then, the UCI faculties of schooling, humanities, law, social sciences and pharmaceutical sciences have hosted a Turkish scholar and are at present web hosting two Cameroonian students and three Afghan scholars, with a fourth scheduled to arrive in June. Together with the students are some 13 dependents (companions/spouses, young children and, in just one case, a young sister) who were also provided sanctuary.

Scholars at Risk is an international software that, according to its site, “protects scholars suffering grave threats to their life, liberty and effectively-becoming by arranging short-term investigation and training positions at establishments in our network as very well as by providing advisory and referral products and services.” The system helps more than 800 students and researchers all over the world for each year.

Considering the fact that Professor Newman was continue to chaotic receiving the Afghan students settled at UCI, we determined that I would lead the Ukrainian work less than her mentorship – launching a fundraising marketing campaign, soliciting programs as soon as the funds are lifted and, last of all, aiding the displaced scholars when they arrive.

The fundraising involved a direct inquire of UCI management as properly as setting up a crowdsourcing marketing campaign. And so significantly, with the help of the provost, the vice chancellor for exploration, nine deans and campaign contributors, we have gathered far more than $200,000 and are all set to host two scholars! UCI’s Claire Trevor Faculty of the Arts also held a productive fundraising live performance (#StandWithUkraine), structured by Ukrainian American pianist and UCI teacher Yuliya Minina. Considering that the quite beginning of the work, a focused campus cohort has greatly served encourage the crowdsourcing web site and UCI’s Ukrainian scholar initiative: Vladimir Minin, professor of data Kevin Bossenmeyer of the KUCI radio station Dan Cooper, professor of pediatrics pupil volunteer Jose Alberto Jr. Castaneda Montejo and Maria Tkachuk from Beall Used Innovation. This core group has met with me and Professor Newman to coordinate functions on a typical basis. I am fortuitous to perform with these a fantastic staff and grateful for all their contributions.

UCI has been very supportive of the Ukrainian result in. People have proven great generosity. We are all set to transfer to the next phase: picking the academics and bringing them to campus. (We by now have several candidates.)

For decades, I have known UCI for its excellence in education and investigate. But this knowledge has taught me that UCI is a lot more than that: It’s a wonderful local community, and it’s a loved ones.

Zenyuk is an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. She is also associate director of the UCI-primarily based Nationwide Gas Mobile Exploration Heart.

By AKDSEO