One year into the war in Ukraine, the United States is sending more weapons, sparking concerns about the conflict continuing into a late spring offensive. More than 1,800 Ukrainian students are studying in the U.S. according to recent Institute of International Education data, including Tanya Kotelnykova and Anastasiia Vasylaki.
These students face uncertainty and challenges, starting when they travel out of their country and apply for a visa. Many are constantly worried about their families and experience loneliness and homesickness after coming to the United States. Still, according to Kotelnykova, more Ukrainian students are planning to come and get education in the U.S. and take their knowledge back to their homeland to help rebuild the country in the future.
Kotelnykova, a Columbia University graduate student studying Human Rights, is a founder of the MentorUkraine project. MentorUkraine aims to provide mentorship for displaced Ukrainian students from students in the U.S. and Europe. Kotelnykova connects Ukrainian students currently studying in the U.S. – mentors – with Ukrainian students in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities – the mentees. Apart from helping to address professional hurdles, the program tries to address personal challenges that Ukrainian students are facing including language barriers, social integration and networking.
Since starting the project, Kotelnykova has helped 20 new students get admitted to U.S. colleges with various degrees of financial aid. She plans to continue with her work and support more Ukrainian students like herself even after graduation.