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Students Document Ukranian Unrest, Student Involvement

Andriy Shymonyak (left) and Neel Mandavilli interview a priest who was working with students in Ukraine.

Two Humanities and Social Sciences students — both Park Scholars – spent their spring break in Ukraine, interviewing students there about their participation in the protests and upheaval roiling the country. Andriy Shymonyak (History and Political Science) and Neel Mandavilli (Political Science) are creating a short documentary about the role of students in the Euromaidan protests.

“We wanted first-hand exposure to the situation in Ukraine,” says Shymonyak, a native of Ukraine who emigrated to the United States when he was five. “We interviewed students, activists and professors in Lviv and Kyiv, where the largest numbers of students were active and in communication with one another. We were looking for  new insights on the protests and a better understanding of the role students are playing.

“We encountered students who had become  keenly aware of their potential for change. These were individuals who said they saw their future being taken away before their eyes, but would not sit idly by and accept such a decision. We learned that the maidan [demonstration] of late November was created and maintained by students — students who refused to leave until their government acknowledged their grievances.”

Shymonyak and Mandavilli hope their project will remind all students of their capacity to generate lasting political change. “We live in a world of unparalleled interdependence,” says Mandavilli. “Sharing the choices of our Eastern European classmates is critical to fostering an understanding of our generation’s potential.”

Raleigh news station WRAL interviewed Shymonyak before the trip.

While Shymonyak came back to NC State after the ten-day trip, Mandavilli traveled to Prague, where he is studying abroad. Think the distance might pose a problem for editing their hours of footage into a short documentary? “We see it as a challenge,” says Shymonyak. “And we like a challenge.”

Stay tuned.