Lindsay and Baba Ana stand close together in a kitchen with their arms around each other. Lindsay is holding a pie.

First-person perspective: The war on Ukraine

Lindsay Stamsos is PSU’s International Admission Counselor & Coordinator for Global Graduate Recruitment and Outreach. She lived in Ukraine for 1.5 years teaching English, volunteered with UNHCR Ukraine, and received her MA in Russian and Eurasian Foreign Policy from European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. She also volunteered with IRCO for two years, working within the Slavic community of Portland.

What would you like people to know about Ukraine and what this war means for the people there? 

Ukraine is so much more than simply a former Soviet republic that’s been caught up in this horrible war. It’s history is tragic, sure, but you wouldn’t know this when you meet a Ukrainian or stroll along the streets of Kyiv. 

Ukrainians are not overly political; they strive to live in a sovereign nation where they can continue to modernize their government, infrastructure, and world presence. They’ve made huge strides in building up civil society, reducing corruption, and creating a more democratic nation.

Lindsay Stamsos stands with her close friend’s babushka, Baba Ana, who survived the Nazi occupation of Ukraine.

Something that I think many people may not realize is that Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, is a very modern city of cafes, breweries, world-renowned restaurants, universities, and gorgeous architecture.There is a tremendous amount of sadness from my friends that all the hard work to make Ukraine a modern European country has been for nothing.

One thing I’ve been hearing a lot is that the situation doesn’t feel like the 21st century, that it reminds them of something from World War II. The start of the bombardment on Wednesday was absolutely shocking to the majority of Ukrainians. 

Where should people go to find accurate information about the war in Ukraine? 

This is a tough one, because a lot of news can be very polarizing and biased especially on the topic of Ukraine and Russia. I have the privilege of being able to read and understand Ukrainian and Russian, so I use many websites and platforms in these languages. In English, I like Moshesh, who is on Instagram. 

I find that he includes many different sources I wouldn’t normally see. I also follow Christopher Miller, who is a reporter for Buzzfeed who has lived in Ukraine for more than 10 years. As the bombardment has continued, I’ve started following photojournalists, such as from Agence France-Presse (AFP). Especially when I’m trying to track which specific neighborhoods in Kyiv bombs have fallen. Pod Save the World is a really great Podcast to understand the perspective of American Foreign Policy during this war. 

How do you reconcile your relationships with both your Russian friends and Ukrainian friends during this conflict?

I lived in Russia, as well as Ukraine, so I have an interesting perspective. Even though there are very public disagreements between the Russian government, Ukrainian government, and the U.S. government, we all know that we are just citizens of our respective countries. I have never heard my Russian friends make disparaging remarks about Ukrainians and vice-versa. Simply put — we don’t let politics get in the way of being humans, which means we can provide empathy and understanding to each of our specific problems. 

Russian citizens and Ukrainian citizens overwhelmingly want a peaceful resolution. 

Where should PSU students go for support as events unfold? 

The Center for Student Health & Counseling and Veterans Resource Center are great places for support. I also recommend taking a walk, hugging a pet or friend, or just removing yourself from the constant news.