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We asked our TAM graduate, Mackenzie Chang ’16, to share his thoughts on the situation in Ukraine. After TAM, he spent two years in Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer. From his current location in Prague, Mackenzie sent us these reflections:

During my overseas semester with TAM in the Spring of 2015 in Prague, I came across this protest in the middle of the main square:


I had been captivated by the Maidan revolution the prior winter, and my time in TAM expanded my geopolitical understanding around what would or might be done to ensure peace. I interned with the Czech Helsinki Committee, which was born out of the Helsinki Accords and its detente for peace. However, Russia’s full-on invasion of Ukraine has shattered my understanding of the international order that Europe had created to ensure peace following the horrors of two World Wars. Economic co-dependence, or making war far too costly for any country to partake in, has backfired and led to the exact situation which Europe sought to prevent. All of us in TAM have studied and learned this European order, and when this war is over, when Ukraine wins, a new order will be voted on by Europeans in their respective countries. And Ukraine must win, let there not be a mistake about that.

I went to Ukraine after my semester in Prague as an intern with the US Embassy in Kyiv and spent a further 2 years in the country with the Peace Corps. As a tourist, you could ignore that the country was still at war, but in getting to know the country well, the scars were readily apparent. One of my favorite moments during the Peace Corps was hearing a big Ukrainian man who was a volunteer chaperon, emotionally tell me during a hiking trip for children that these moments made the horror of fighting in the Donbas worth it. I cannot do justice to the pain and emotion that many of my Ukrainian friends and colleagues feel now.

It is so immense. However, they are more united around their country than ever. When I asked my former Ukrainian teacher how he and his family were doing, he defiantly proclaimed “we will fight and we will win. кляті москалі захлебнуться кровю”. Every Ukrainian I know fights in every way they can, online, fundraising, donating, documenting, and taking up arms. They also know they cannot do it alone. Ukrainians understand that if the West forgets about Russia’s war and thinks more about its gas, which leads to aid and supplies stopping, then everything will be lost. Ukraine must win, we cannot forget, Slava Ukraini!

Mackenzie Chang

TAM class‘16

Currently back living and volunteering in Prague

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