Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics
newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Leave your feedback
The crisis in Ukraine is reverberating across the U.S., including in a rural town in northern New Mexico. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports on how the war in Ukraine is impacting teenagers who are thousands of miles away.
The crisis in Ukraine is reverberating across the U.S. even to a rural town in northern New Mexico. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery has the story.
Maksym Sosnowski, Polish Student:
That's even better than we do at home.
Decorating eggs with multicolored patterns in wax is an Easter tradition for Maks Sosnowski. The 16 year old is from Poland with Ukrainian roots.
We call them pysanky. It's a name that is there both in Polish and Ukrainian. We celebrate the new life with a bright new hope, which I guess it's really important right now.
Max and others here at the Armand Hammer United World College are paying close attention to the war 6,000 miles away.
230 students from 90 countries attend this high school. It's home as a former 19th century resort. They call the castle nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, about an hour east of Santa Fe.
This is one of 18 United World colleges spread across five continents. The first opened in Wales in 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the aim then and now remains the same.
Victoria Mora, President, United World College USA:
The mission is to make education a force for peace, and a sustainable future. Let's look at it together.
Victoria Mora is the school's president.
So what happens here is that anything you see in the headlines, there are human beings here who not only have really strong views, because they come from the places that the headlines are addressing. But they also have deep, deep connections.
One of those is 190-year-old Masha Novikova. Her parents and three younger siblings live in Cherkasy, southeast of Kyiv when air raid sirens blared, they hunker down in a bomb shelter near their apartment.
Masha Novikova, Ukrainian Student:
Whenever I call them, I just want to make sure they're alive and safe.
The family has a summer home in Irpin, which miraculously survived heavy Russian shelling there last month. The city has since been liberated by the Ukrainian military.
All houses around our house in Irpin are completely destroyed. There just dead bodies on the streets. Irpin was very developed city. Now, it's a living hell.
Images of war prompted Sophia Pavlenko, born in Moscow, but now living with her family in New Mexico to do something with her Russian and Ukrainian friends.
Sophia Pavlenko, Russian student: I thought to myself, you know, it might be a good idea to have a little fundraiser here with some good food because people love food on this campus, and I am a good cook.
Together they made blini is a typical Slavic treat.
Maria Gomberg, from a Russian Jewish family living in Mexico City joined in.
Maria Gomberg, Mexican Student:
We're young and we are able bodied. And we're fresh minded. And we all really just want to do our part. So far we have made close to $500.
It's money they'll donate to Ukrainian hospitals.
This is not going to buy you a tank. This is not going to buy you a whole hospital. This going to buy maybe a couple of bandages. It's good to feel that you're at least you're doing something no matter how slow.
I can educate people, I can fundraise. I can make people aware of what's happening.
Raising awareness is why Maks spearheaded an effort to plant sunflowers later this spring.
We actually want to count them up here so that people when they go up to the castle, they can see both the blue sky and yellow sunflowers, which altogether it makes up the Ukrainian flag, the Ukrainian colors.
Back in Poland, Maks' parents host evacuees who have told the family Ukrainian forces carry sunflower seeds as symbols of hope.
There are so much stories about soldiers having sunflower seeds in their pockets, so that if they don't make it at least some flowers would one day grow from the independent Ukrainian ground. There's so much of meaning to it, this is my idea to inspire people this way.
Coping with crisis and conflict isn't new here. Zahra Ahmadi came to California from Afghanistan in 2016. She understands what her Ukrainian classmates are experiencing. Several members of her extended family evacuated from Kabul last August.
Zahra Ahmadi, Afghan student: It's really scary and sad. And that's the same as how I felt when the Taliban took over Afghanistan. They are far away from their family. They don't know what is going on.
I'm really worried like there was a really huge chance of mining people I know, they just dies. They would get killed. And I don't think I would be able to process and survive it. And it could be a massive loss.
After graduation, Masha will attend college in the United States. She doesn't know when she can go back to Ukraine.
For "PBS News Weekend," I'm Kathleen McCleery in Montezuma, New Mexico.
Watch the Full Episode
Support Provided By: