Remembering the Anniversary of the Ukraine Invasion

February 24, 2023
Remembering the Anniversary of the Ukraine Invasion

Dear students, alumni, faculty, and staff:

Today marks one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.

It’s been 365 days of overcoming doubts, despair, and fear. Although no words can describe what the people of Ukraine have been through, over these 365 days we – the AUBG community – have been more united than ever.

Over the past year, AUBG has welcomed into its home and extended its hand to hundreds of Ukrainian people affected by the war.

As we were holding placards under the blue and yellow flag, we stood with and for the people of Ukraine at the peaceful anti-war demonstration.

Together, we assisted in the evacuation of our online students from active military zones. Through sleepless nights, we have driven thousands of kilometers across Bulgaria and beyond to meet the families and friends of our Ukrainian students. Having established volunteer groups, we cleaned empty apartments, bought essential supplies, and offered help settling down in Bulgaria. We collaborated with one another and the local community of Blagoevgrad to find new homes for those who had to leave theirs behind.

We made sure that the Ukrainian kids were entertained and taken care of, while their mothers and older siblings were studying Bulgarian with tutors from the South-Western University. Thanks to the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, throughout the spring and summer seasons, we organized English courses at our English Language Institute in Blagoevgrad.

With the help of students, alumni, faculty, and staff, we organized multiple fundraising events, like the Give Peace a Chance auction, and thus, gathered more than $330,000. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni, donors, and AUBG friends, we managed to secure scholarships for 53 entering, current and ELI students affected by the war.

From February 24, 2022, life has changed. The world has changed. We have changed.

What one day was planned to be an exhibition for International Women’s Day has turned into a charity event, donations from which went to Ukrainian families in need. For some of us, the spring break vacation turned into a week of volunteering at the Polish-Ukrainian border, while others had spent their holidays cleaning apartments and meeting families and friends of our Ukrainian students and alumni.

The past year has shown me and, perhaps, many of you how sympathetic, generous, and caring our community is. Together, we not only successfully accomplished all these initiatives and many others but also created a stronger bond between each other and expanded our AUBG family. While it was always ‘we’ who cared, helped, and spoke up, it is ‘you’ whom I wholeheartedly thank for the resistance, compassion, and devotion.

Just like one year ago, on February 24, I would like to encourage you – the AUBG community – to, once again, come together and offer support and prayers for the people of Ukraine. In commemoration of their resistance and strength, I kindly ask each and every one of you to join me in holding a minute of silence today, at 12.30 PM EET.

Beyond this brief yet important moment, on behalf of the Ukrainian students at AUBG, I kindly invite you all to the screening of “Winter on Fire” that will take place tonight in BAC Auditorium at 7.30 PM. In addition, make sure to stop by ABF lobby to check out the “Unissued Diplomas” exhibition that will be on display from today until March 10, 2023. Thank you to all of you for your support of our Ukrainian friends, old and new, during this past year.

Best wishes,

David Evans