Ukrainian Students Visit Maple Grove, Recall Daily Bombings
It’s been more than six months since the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, students from the war-torn country shared perspective on their homeland while being able to tour Maple Grove and ask questions of civic and business leaders.
The Maple Grove visit is part of a five-week business and entrepreneurship program sponsored by St. Louis Park-based nonprofit Global Synergy Group. The goal of the trip is to help students bring back ideas to Ukraine to help the country build its future.
“Ukraine has struggled over the years to transition from post-Soviet Union systems to a more democratic way of being,” said Irina Fursman, president and co-founder of Global Synergy Group. “The people are hopeful and fighting for the democracy and for the freedoms. And we need to worry about the next generation of leaders to actually live in peace in a democratic way.”
Eighteen students, ages 13 to 18, made the trip from Ukraine to Maple Grove. For the students, expectations are high. Many of them plan to be future leaders.
“For these kids, they came here with a mission, they’re as young leaders who want to get experience and then bring it back to Ukraine,” said Natalia Etten with Global Synergy Group. “Everything they see, everything they do, everyone they meet, they are kind of trying to process it internally and see how do I apply this.”
‘This day was very important for us’
The Ukrainian students who spoke to CCX News say they’ve had to endure daily bombings and hide in basement bomb shelters during the day and at night. Some of their loved ones are on the front lines in the battle to fend off the Russian military invasion.
“When war started, I was shocked. It was dangerous for my family and we were in basement all the time, all night all day. It was very bad,” said Daria Bozhko, a 17-year-old student from Boryspil in northern Ukraine. Bozhko said she and her family have been displaced seven times during the conflict.
“We’re here because we want to improve our country,” said Bozhko, who is being hosted during her stay by Maple Grove City Administrator Heidi Nelson. “This day was very important for us.”
In addition to meeting and asking questions of Maple Grove city leaders, the Ukrainian students also visited Upsher-Smith Laboratories and Great River Energy.
“We will go back to our Ukraine and rebuild our Ukraine,” said 18-year-old Olesia Kichuk. “We will share our knowledge with Ukrainians and we are very grateful to Global Synergy Group, to our American friends for this opportunity, amazing opportunity. Glory to Ukraine.”