March 26, 2022
When a Haverford College student from Moscow took a class on “transitional justice” and learned about war tribunals and genocide, she said she didn’t imagine that she would one day be watching her own country carrying out such crimes.
“I never really thought that I would find myself to be on the side of the perpetrators of genocide,” the 22-year-old comparative literature major said, her voice filled with emotion.
Sitting next to her at the table in the college library one night last week was Oleh Shostak, 21, a Haverford sophomore who is from Ukraine.
“I don’t think you are on the side of perpetrators,” Shostak said. “You come from that side, but by taking a stand, you are not there.”
And that’s how it’s been at the 1,435-student, selective liberal arts college on the Main Line, the small group of Ukrainian and Russian students supporting each other and uniting against a war ravaging one of their countries and dividing the other. They have been volunteering and raising money to support Ukrainians back home and lobbying their college to bring more Ukrainian students to the school, teach more about the country, its language and politics, and take a strong stand against the war.
They also have formed a group with their counterparts at Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr Colleges. And Shostak and the Russian student, who asked not to be named because Russians may face persecution by their government for speaking out, recently addressed a Haverford class, “The Politics of Violence,” where they were able to share what they were feeling and what their families were experiencing.