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Respite for Ukrainian students through collaboration with Lund

The on-screen lecture looks like any other digital seminar. But this is no normal session. The audience lives in the university town of Zhytomyr in Ukraine, and they are taking part in a series of online seminars organised by around ten researchers and teaching staff from Lund.

Jessika Sellergren – Published 21 February 2023

Skärmbild av Zoom-möte. Foto.
Samtidigt som de ukrainska studenterna ­lever med kriget ger webbinarierna med LU inspiration och välbehövlig återhämtning, menar dekanen Oksana Chernysh.

One of the organisers of the knowledge exchange is Oksana Chernysh, dean of the Faculty of Pedagogical Technologies and Lifelong Learning at Zhytomyr Polytechnic State University. She describes the collaboration as a moment of respite for the students:

“While the chaos of war continues, and we make daily efforts to rescue our families and help refugees, we are also fighting day-to-day to ensure that our students can continue to get an education.”

Despite electricity outages, and air raid alarms that force students to leave their screens and shelter in the basement, the online seminars provide inspiration and much-needed respite, Oksana Chernysh argues.

Respite in the chaos

One of Lund University’s researchers taking part in the collaboration is Ulrika Sandén. She obtained a doctoral degree in innovation technology at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) a year ago and has since continued to explore how active choices such as being hopeful and accepting life’s changes can help people find security in the face of serious illnesses like cancer. She calls it finding contentment in the present. She is sharing the mindset of finding hope even in darkness with the students in Ukraine.

“Many of our students were so inspired by Ulrika’s seminar that we had several long discussions afterwards. She showed us all the power of hope and how important it is not to give up,” says Oksana Chernysh.

Contact before the war

Another person who has contributed hope and knowledge is Lars Harrysson from the School of Social Work in Lund:

“Even before the war, Oksana and I had an academic collaboration, but when the invasion happened I asked, ‘What do you need?’ and got the answer ‘We need knowledge and respite.’”

In addition to the online seminars, mainly organised by LTH on topics such as energy and water solutions, electrification and alternative fuels, Lars Harrysson has held a course on social policy for both Swedish and Ukrainian students:

“The students worked on joint projects on the theme of freedom, equality and justice, and as part of their examination they recorded short videos with their campaign messages.”

Very motivated

Oksana Chernysh says that it was exciting to follow the exchange between the students:

“My students were really motivated to express their ideas. The collaboration with the Swedish students also allowed them to practice intercultural skills that are vital in a globalised society.”

Oksana Chernysh feels fear and uncertainty when she thinks about the future, yet she has hopes of one day coming to Sweden:

“I need to meet all the people I am now working with – without their commitment it would have been difficult to see the light in the darkness.”

The article is published in Lund University Magazine 1/2023

Panel discussion about rebuilding Ukraine

Around ten researchers and members of teaching staff from LTH and the School of Social Work are participating in the exchange of knowledge. On 28 February, they will host a panel discussion with colleagues in Zhytomyr with a focus on the rebuilding of Ukraine. Everyone is welcome.

Rebuilding Ukraine in the calendar

Porträttfoto av Oksana Chernysh.

Oksana Chernysh at Zhytomyr Polytechnic State University in Ukraina. Photo: Jana Gladyshuk