Daniil sees Ukraine war a long ways from home | Vinton Newspapers

VAN HORNE — Being on a student exchange program is supposed to be fun, exciting and memorable. It’s supposed to be an unforgettable experience. For Daniil (we won’t use his last name), who is attending Benton Community High School this year, it will be memorable but for the wrong reasons. […]

VAN HORNE — Being on a student exchange program is supposed to be fun, exciting and memorable. It’s supposed to be an unforgettable experience.

For Daniil (we won’t use his last name), who is attending Benton Community High School this year, it will be memorable but for the wrong reasons.

Daniil is from Zaporizhzhia, a city of about 800,000 in southeastern Ukraine. When he left last summer for his year-long experience in Iowa, he never imagined that his nation would be plunged into the horror that now grips it.

“So we have war in Ukraine with Russia since 2014. So it already eight years, so everyone is already used to these activities like war,” Daniil said. “And when in November, everyone started talking about military activity of rushing the borders of Ukraine. No one like was really surprised, because we have that for eight years. And no one thought that it’s gonna like, be like that.

It’s already happened a lot of times from Russia, just like look, there are military troops near Ukrainian borders, and nothing happened, right?” he added. “So no one no one really thought that it’s going to happen.”

Daniil said that his family is in a safe house and he has been able to communicate with them and with some of his friends back home. His mother is a cosmetologist, while his father is a truck driver.

“They are safe as it’s possible right now,” Daniil said of his family. “So they live in private house, but it’s not close to a bomb shelter. It’s too far. So they just like go to house basement if they need to.

“On Tuesday, my Mom said she saw in the sky two fighter jets. And my mom has never thought that she will see them like in real life like when it’s happening. is still pretty safe in the home city,” he added.

The face of the war in the Ukraine from Day One has been that of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Daniil said that he was not really a supporter of Zelensky, but that has changed.

“So, in my family, my dad voted for last President Petro Poroshenko, and my Mom voted for Volodymyr Zelensky. And I did not support him (Zelensky),” Daniil said. “I didn’t like how he’s doing his job, I did not like that.

“But when these things started, he is doing a great job,” he added. “He is making people believe in our country, he is showing that we have to believe in our country, he is doing good job abroad policy with all the countries. And what would I say to him? I’ll tell him, do not stop doing that. And do it always.”

Weaving through the halls of Benton Community High School, it is evident that Daniil is popular there as nearly every student passing by at the end of the day said hello. Daniil said that the BC community has been supportive throughout the entire surreal situation. But right now Daniil is facing a rather scary deadline.

Daniil is scheduled to return to the Ukraine May 24 — two days after graduation — but he is hoping to be able to stay. He has — at his family’s urging — applied to the United States State department to be granted Temporary Protective Status which would allow him to stay in the United States for the time being. But it would also mean that he will be here indefinitely without his family.

“My mom wants me to get TPS, because it’s the most like safe,” he said, “but because my grandparents cannot live anywhere because their health. My dad can’t leave the country because he’s fight age,18 to 60 he have to stay in the country, right? And my mom said like she won’t leave alone. And, you know, I’m okay. And we decided, like to get TPS is going to be possible, but I’m still awaiting answer from Exchange Program because I cannot change my visa type to any kind of another visas.

“So, yeah, well, it’s still in the question mark, what am I doing after my school year,” Daniil said.

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