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UCalgary students given a moment to remember

From war-torn Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy answers student questions, and implores Canada to keep helping
University of Calgary students attend a virtual video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Photo: UCalgary/Riley Brandt

A minute to ask a question, and a lifetime to recall the experience.

For University of Calgary student Faith Moghaddami, it was a memory-making moment on Wednesday, as one of a handful of Canadian students chosen to ask Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a question over live video.

“With the availability of social media, much of the war has become publicly accessible unlike ever before. How do you believe the Internet has shaped how the world perceives the war on Ukraine?” asked the UCalgary nursing student.

“(Social media) is almost like a weapon, showing the world what is going on in Ukraine — it means freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of thought,” said Zelenskyy, speaking through a translator.

“For us, the Internet is a kind of weapon through which we can show what is going on in Ukraine, who conquered us, how many victims and casualties we have and what has this aggressive Russian operation left behind.

Zelenskyy was speaking to post-secondary schools across Canada, in an event organized by the University of Toronto in support of the war-ravaged European nation. His full speech can be seen here.

Nearly 200 UCalgary students joined post-secondary audiences across Canada to hear Zelenskyy’s plea for more international support in his country’s attempts to repeal the four-month-old Russian invasion. 

"Please, don’t allow anyone, somewhere on the hierarchy of bureaucratic corridors to forget about what’s going on in Ukraine, to forget about war," he said.

The charismatic president, who has become the international face of Ukraine’s struggle, fielded questions from a handful of universities, including UToronto, UCalgary, University of Saskatchewan, Université de Montréal and University of Alberta, with his responses ranging from humorous, to stark and serious.

At one point, he compared Ukraine’s war against Russia to the Toronto Raptor’s NBA championship season, “when you win when no one is expecting you to win.”

For Moghaddami, whose mother is a refugee from Iran, the opportunity to speak with the president directly left a deep impression.

“He painted such a clear picture of what is happening in Ukraine. I’ll never forget this moment,” said Moghaddami, who worked with Yazidi refugees during her nursing placement in 2021.

For Canada, and for Alberta in particular, UCalgary International senior academic director Dueck said the relationship with Ukraine is a long-standing and important one. Students care about supporting the values of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine, and are also set to welcome many of their peers who have been displaced by the conflict.

“The Russia-Ukraine war is reshaping geopolitical relationships as we speak, and our students will remember their discussion here for a lifetime.”

Article courtesy of University of Calgary