The reasons for war can be complicated and one might ask who is really the good and the bad guys. However, the war in Ukraine is not as complicated when it comes to who is the aggressor and the Goliath of the battle. This war would not happen unless Mr. Putin himself wanted a war, for reasons only he could understand. The preparations for war have been clear for all to see.
The Russian people has slowly and piece by piece been robbed by Putin’s regime for basic freedom and civil rights. Now it is forbidden to call the war in Ukraine a “war” or to express opinions of opposition against the war. Freedom of speech, anyone?
Norway has previously been exposed to an unprovoked assault from an aggressor as well. Our sympathy, thoughts and prayers go to the people of Ukraine, both as an emotional response – and of course also based upon international law, and simply how to behave.
In this dark hour for the people in Ukraine, we do hope all kinds of support can bring some comfort. As well as from a small university college in a country located at the outskirts of the Atlantic.
At Volda University College, there are few students and employees from Ukraine. Students are invited to get in touch with their academic supervisors or others if they need assistance or just someone to talk to, on a general and emotional level, or due to the war is affecting friends or family directly. We are here for you.
We also have employees and students from Russia, as well as other countries in the region where the largest war in Europe since 1945 is now taking place. I will feel surprised if people from these countries doesn’t feel uncertainty or stress in the current situation.
It’s important for me to state that all employees and students at Volda University College are to be treated well, no matter what country they are from. Our points of criticism are definitely not directed towards the Russian people, only towards Mr. Putin’s regime.
Currently, Volda University College has no partner universities in Ukraine. We were looking into possible candidates for an exchange agreement as late as Monday last week – then came the war. We don’t know when it’s possible or advisable to make new agreements. Just in a matter of hours the world changed, maybe for decades to come. So quickly did options for mutual learning exchange disappear.
We do have exchange agreements with three Russian universities. For now, the Norwegian government has not changed its policies toward Russia regarding research and education, but I will be surprised if any students really want to travel to Russia in 2022 for exchange, and nobody knows for how long Russia will stand out as a pariah-country in the world.
In days like this – look for the small, good things that is happening. For me, a small but good thing happened last Thursday at Pangaia, our international meeting ground. When I was approaching, I could hear guitar chords from a famous tune; three international students were discussing, playing, and piecing together a song – a real popular classic. The song was written just a few years after WWII by an Italian, a former prisoner of the war in Ethiopia. The song was written in Neapolitan dialect and performed by a very international band who also would go on a world tour. The band and the song show music can bring together people from different countries and cultures, across time, and across generations. This is what international cooperation should be about, to learn new things from each other, sharing cultural experiences and hopefully as well: sharing smiles and happiness.