UKRAINE: What an exchange student in West Seattle wants you to know

(Photos courtesy Rada Myroshnychenko)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is very personal for some people here in West Seattle.

16-year-old Rada Myroshnychenko is one of them. She is from Mykolayiv in southern Ukraine [map] – 5,700 miles away – and has been here about half a year as an exchange student at Chief Sealth International High School.

After hearing about Rada from her host family, we asked if we could interview her. She answered our questions via email.

What’s it like trying to stay in touch with your family when your home country is under attack? “I’m texting my mom every day because I’m worrying so much about them, every time I’m checking the news I’m texting my family back there right away to make sure if they’re okay. It’s really scary to hear the sirens or sometimes even shooting noises in the background of her voice messages that she’s sending me and of course they’re scared as well. They’re trying to convince me that everything is pretty much alright so I will not worry so much and as I know they’re doing everything possible to be safe in there.”

What should people here know about what’s happening? “What the Ukrainian nation values the most is freedom, that’s why our country is fighting for so many years with those who want to take this freedom away from us.” Rada also thinks it’s important for you to grasp the “scale” of what’s happening: “To understand the scale of what is happening: Imagine it being like 9/11 every day for 11 days straight in every city of every state – that is what is happening in Ukraine right now.”

She is heartened by the support for Ukraine here in the USA and around the world – including a downtown rally this past weekend.

“I actually really like to see all the support from other countries, no matter what it is. I already saw a lot of Ukrainian flags around the West Seattle area and Seattle in general and I also am really thankful to my host family, friends, and just to everyone who went to the rally on Saturday. Everything that the government and the people of each country are doing for Ukraine is what I appreciate to see the most these days. I like that people from different countries are interested in what is happening in Ukraine and trying to help as much as they can, I like that people understand how valuable the freedom and safety for our country is and that they’re trying to help us protect it.”

So if someone wants to help, we asked, what’s the best way, in Rada’s view? “The best thing right now is to donate to our medical centers and hospitals who are saving those who already suffered from the war, also you can donate to our army and volunteer defenders who are protecting our land.” She suggested these two links: Army – and Red Cross –

Will the war affect Rada’s plans to return home? She’s not sure yet – her exchange program is still in wait-and-see mode. She “always wanted people to get to know my country – Ukraine … how beautiful our culture, traditions, language, nature, and cities are.” She is sad that while her homeland is a subject of intense interest right now, “all you see … is ruins, fire, bombs, and people who are hiding from the war.” She hopes for a happy homecoming: “I really want to see all my favorite streets in Ukraine when I come back home, I want to meet with my family and friends in the places we love in safe and happy Ukraine – as it was before all of that started. I just want all that aggression to stop, and your donation and support is the best thing that can help us!”

6 Replies to "UKRAINE: What an exchange student in West Seattle wants you to know"

  • Christina P. March 7, 2022 (10:23 pm)

    Stay strong, Rada! We’re with you and Ukraine, and praying for this war to end soon! We’re very happy to have you as our guest here in West Seattle! Thank you for recommending where to donate :-) God Bless you and your family! Glory to Ukraine! …… WSB, thank you for this post, this is very nicely done! 

  • bolo March 7, 2022 (10:41 pm)

    Not exactly sure this is how the exchange student program works, but does it mean there’s a West Seattle-based student currently staying with her Rada’s family in Ukraine?

    Could be interesting interviewing them, if so.

    • Cricket March 8, 2022 (12:12 am)

      I highly doubt it

    • Ly March 8, 2022 (9:46 pm)

      Exchange programs like the AFS program just means a student comes here or a country of choice where they spend a year learning about the culture and in turn, educating their host country about their native country. There isn’t an actual exchange of the students living in those homes.

  • HS March 8, 2022 (9:45 am)

    Thank you for the interview Rada. You helped bring a more human perspective to the news I’ve been watching and your voice is much appreciated.

  • CJ March 9, 2022 (9:18 pm)

    Thanks for the story and to Rada for sharing.  With all of the tragic stories, we see the pride and strength in your country.  It’s beautiful, we stand with you, and we pray this ends very soon.  Thanks for the donation information.  

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