Wisconsin News

Ukrainian student shows concern for family's safety in Kiev

Exchange student gives perspective on the tension in her country

Ukrainian student shows concern for family's safety in Kiev

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) - The tensions that continue to rise in Ukraine are happening half a world away, but for one foreign exchange student it hits really close to home.

Seventeen-year-old Yuliya Kulynych is a student at Onalaska High School. She has physically been in the United States since last August, but she admits that her heart and mind are back home with her family in Kiev, Ukraine.

Kulynych said the protests in Kiev are nothing out of the ordinary.

"It wasn't a big surprise. My family was talking about something like that would eventually happen," said Kulynych. "It happens a lot. I am not going to lie. In 20 years, it has happened three times, so we never really paid a lot of attention."

Many didn't pay attention to the protests until now because they've recently turned violent.

"I know that both of my siblings were not going to school for some days because it was scary, people were shot on the streets and the cars were broken and burned and a lot of people are missing," said Kulynych.

Now the eyes of millions are focused on the tension between Ukraine and Russia, but Kulynych's eyes are focused on her family. Her parents and two sisters live in Kiev.

"About 3 p.m. here, I can read something about this night could be the most bloody night in history. It scares me so badly," said Kulynych.

Kulynych used to talk to her family about once a month using Skype, but now she Skypes with them more often. Her sister says the situation isn't getting better.

"Sometimes it seems like the war is going to happen any time or any minute and of course I am afraid. I'm living in Kiev in the centerof all events. Sometimes I am afraid for my family, for my home, for my life and future," said Kulynych's sister.

"You don't even know what will happen in the next second. It's like really scary," said Kulynych.

Although Kulynych is enjoying her time in Onalaska as an exchange student, she is finding it hard to be so far away from her family.

"It's kind of not fair that I am sitting here in America, safe and sound, while others are going through that," said Kulynych.

However, her family reassures her that they are safe.

"They're going to school, to university, to work, but it's just something that consumes their thoughts on a daily basis," said Kulynych.

With no end in sight, Kulynych can't help but think about it on a daily basis too, but she said the support in Onalaska has made it a little easier.

"I have my host family and I have really good friends. I learned to trust those people and they are supporting me a lot," said Kulynych.

Kulynych said the situation back in Ukraine will not impact her plans in the United States. She still plans on graduating from Onalaska High School in June and will return home shortly after she graduates.           

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