WASHINGTON, DC – Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska expressed her gratitude to Georgetown University during a recent visit, acknowledging the university’s support and drawing attention to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Zelenska’s Sept. 21 visit presented an invaluable opportunity for Georgetown students to hear directly from her about the current war in Ukraine and the  humanitarian crisis following Russia’s 2022 invasion.

Members of the Georgetown Ukrainian Society, myself included, were privileged to attend this significant event. It gave us a platform to shed light on our homeland’s situation and stress the importance of sustained international support.

Zelenska embodies the resilience and leadership of Ukrainian women. Honoring figures like her is a source of empowerment for women around the world who are facing conflict.

The primary focus of Zelenska’s visit was the “Ukrainian Bookshelf” project, a collaborative effort involving 40 countries to distribute the best Ukrainian publications to leading global libraries.

Riggs Library at Georgetown University now proudly hosts one of such bookshelves. In her speech, Zelenska expressed hope that these books would deepen Georgetown’s understanding of Ukraine’s people and their rich cultural heritage.

The effort gains added significance as it offers a second life to books from Ukrainian libraries destroyed during the invasion.

Georgetown University students with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. The First Lady is in the back row at the center, with a white top and black skirt. The author, Tanya Tkachenko, is at the right of the First Lady, in the front row wearing a plaid skirt and blue blazer. (Photo from The Presidential Office of Ukraine.)

Beyond the bookshelf, Zelenska’s visit served as a reminder to the global community to sustain its support for Ukraine, particularly as the war approaches its second year.

It is vital for globally impactful institutions like Georgetown to actively engage with the security, humanitarian, and economic challenges faced by Ukraine and Eastern Europe as a whole.

International support, especially from the United States, is crucial for Ukrainians.

It is important to continue talking about Ukraine in the media and continue supporting the warriors who – sometimes at the price of their lives – protect the peace in their home. 

Students from the Georgetown University Ukrainian Society at the event with Olena Zelenska. (Selfie by Kyryl Myronenko, used with permission.)

The First Lady also highlighted the Olena Zelenska Foundation as a way to support Ukraine.

This foundation focuses on humanitarian and educational initiatives in Ukraine, providing invaluable civilian assistance in the wake of extensive destruction.

Everyone is not just welcome, but encouraged, to contribute to the Olena Zelenska Foundation, supporting its efforts in healthcare, education, and humanitarian aid.

For me, having the chance to personally engage with Zelenska during her visit was incredibly inspiring and significant. In that moment, she stood as a representative of my country, and I couldn’t help but feel pride for her and everything the Ukrainian government is doing to confront the ongoing war and safeguard our people.

Her visit served as a strong reminder that the conflict persists, and our citizens are suffering daily. But it also underscored our unwavering determination to win, and we remain grateful to everyone who supports Ukraine.

Tanya Tkachenko is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.


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