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  • Kendall Wright

Student Spotlight: International Relations Major Travels to Ukraine to Explain Situation to Them


uiowa student in ukraine

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is something everyone is aware of, though everyone’s level of knowledge about the subject differs. Some know the ins and outs about the crisis, and others only know that President Zelensky is a hot military daddy and Vladmir Putin looks like Voldemort’s (somehow) uglier brother.


Junior International Relations major Zach Ataque has claimed to be an expert on what is happening overseas. Recently, he completed a three-page essay on the history of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia and he’s sure that his knowledge is something that Ukrainians lack. About a month ago, Ataque decided to pack up his things and provide Ukraine with what they desperately needed: a lesson from a C-average American college student on something that uniquely affects them.


When Ataque arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, he went up to the first Ukrainians he saw. He explained the crisis in its entirety, in English, and showed them a picture of Vladmir Putin with a red X through it, so they would understand who the enemy was despite the language barrier.


“I just kept telling them, ‘This is the bad guy. Man very bad’. it was hard to get them to hear me over all the explosions; the Russians could have paused to let me speak. When I was done talking, they thanked me in a very aggressive manner and spat at me. That must be how they show their appreciation; there was obviously a big cultural difference there.”


Somehow, Ataque snuck into a Ukrainian military base and gave them the same lecture he gave those individuals earlier. Troops escorted him off the base, and he was fined 1000 Ukrainian Hryvnia (33 US dollars).


Ataque commented on his removal from the base, saying “They really missed an opportunity to learn. It was obvious they didn’t have an idea about what was happening there and I’m sure they’d have benefited from the plethora of insight my education at Iowa’s finest public college has provided me. If they lose, they’ll wish they’d have listened to me.”


Ataque has requested to use his venture to fulfill his experiential learning requirement, to his academic advisor’s disapproval.

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